I Can Count On One Hand The Friends I Lost

They say you find out who your real friends are.  I’m not sure that’s right.  I have found that some friends, even if they were close, don’t know what to do when disaster strikes.  Any number of reasons for this, and I am sure I have been guilty of it myself.  And then there are the supposed real friends, some of whom emerge from the role of mere acquaintance, not because they are truer, but perhaps because they are nosy, rubber-neckers, do-gooders or just more interested in getting involved in someone else’s drama.  It takes all sorts and I try (though often fail) not to judge those who don’t stay the course.

I can count on one hand the friends I have lost through this sorry saga.  Maybe one finger.  Certainly only one rankles.

When my ex walked out on us, she was the friend I called.  She asked whether I’d like her husband (I would say at that time the only friend my ex had) to ‘reach out’ to him.  I said I would appreciate that.  I was worried about my ex’ state of mind (I didn’t know the half of it).  Over the next few days she was all about ‘not taking sides’, hoping we would get back together, and staying friends with both of us.  But she stopped calling.  I suppose all the crying was too much for her and I don’t blame her.

Other than not taking sides the only thing I remember her saying was how terrible it was that she’d had to tell her children about us.  This had shaken them because we’d seemed so solid as a couple.  Rather than thinking about how my children might be feeling, she resented the unsettling effect that this had had on her teenage sons, and the fact that she’d had to reassure them that their own Mummy and Daddy were definitely not separating.

I can sort of understand that.  I remember having to tell my own children when they were very small and their aunt and uncle divorced.  All my reassurances turned out to be untrue, because my kids’ Daddy, who was to all appearances honest, loving, kind, loyal and all that, was actually a liar and a cheat who didn’t give a shit about any of us.  As it turned out.

However, I did find all the hostility directed at me for my role in her children’s distress more than a little hypocritical.  Not only because I was not the perpetrator.  Pinkie and I had been friends for many years, ever since our husbands had met at work.  Over that period we’d both had opportunity to moan to one another about our menfolk.  But she had seriously shocked me with all her talk about leaving hers (who seemed like a nice bloke to me, but what do I know?)  She had delivered blow by blow accounts of his failings (to recognise her achievements) and, as a result, she had been secretly planning for a long time to leave him.  She told me about the ‘running away fund’ she was amassing.  I should have paid more attention.  It never ever occurred to me to leave the bollockhead I was married to.  And far from having a running away fund of my own, I unwittingly allowed him to make one out of every penny we had and squander the lot on his secrets and lies.

On Facebook Pinkie and Perky post their anniversary photos and profess their love for one another.  Online I see them posting messages to my ex and discussing social arrangements.  ‘Looking forward to seeing you!’  So much for not taking sides.  Pinkie knows of course that one of my children has gone to live with my ex.  Does she ever wonder how I, nothing if not a mother (my bad) am feeling about this?  Does she ever wonder at all about her old friend?  Is she still growing her running away fund?

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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

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