I've hesitated to write much about this, because I know some people may see it and I wasn't sure if I wanted them to see it.
But since I don't think they'll be offended, and since I do think they'll tell me if they are . . . here goes.
I've been part of a message board for over 5 years now. A group of women who all planned their weddings at the same time. There is a long story there, but suffice to say after much drama, we found our way to our own little space and carved it out, long ago. As with any group (ours has been about 15-20 people, depending on the era), there are highs and lows. As with any group of disparate people brought together by tenuous links, people have grown apart and interests have changed.
These women are women I consider very good friends, women I feel I can rely on through whatever happens to me and for whom I would drop a lot to try and be as supportive as I can be from miles away. We've seen each other through marriages, through separations, through job loss, job change, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, new babies, toddler-hood, and tons of other things. People have come and gone - and each loss has been painful. We've had big fights, hurt feelings, and we've also had some of the most awesome exchanges ever - showers from distances, get-togethers when possible, and just some damn funny stuff shared through out the years.
Recently, a couple of people have elected to leave. Through misunderstandings, through life pressures, through personal issues . . . I think a lot of us have had to take a step away at some point or another, you know? I'm having trouble myself some days, with a new baby and four other pregnancies, it's hard for me to be there on a bad day. I don't want to be jealous or negative, I only want to be supportive, and so some days, I don't even open the board.
These losses have made me think. There were some hurt feelings but I can't say I wasn't a tiny bit relieved. In one way, it felt sort of like pretending - the love and affection are not feigned, but there were growing distances. It was a chasm that seemed to keep expanding, despite our efforts to avoid it. It isn't that person, and it isn't me. It's just something in between us.
I think online or irl (though this is my real life - hell, one of these girls was my bridesmaid and one married us - that is irl), sometimes things just happen. People change, people grow, people don't grow. Interests change, focus shifts and suddenly the common ground is gone and you realize . . . affection just isn't enough. There isn't enough room left to build a relationship, and the foundations of the old relationship are crumbling.
It makes me sad. It makes me examine myself and wonder if I could be a better friend (the answer, of course, is yes). But . . . some differences can't be resolved and I think this is one of those cases. If it's better off left at memories, then let's leave it there, rather than keep trying to force it, you know?