Failed at friendship
I'm not the fat friend anymore
When you spend quite a bit of your life evolving in friendships; you can unknowingly assume certain roles. For me, this consisted of being the fat friend. This position was earned gradually. Constant neglect of my body and poor eating habits helped me earn my crown. Surrounded by beautiful friends, I accepted my title willingly.
I enjoyed celebrating every milestone with my entourage of girlfriends. My friends were there to support every change in my life. They listened to my daily ramblings, laughed at my absurd stories, shared in my happiness and cried with me when it appeared my life was falling apart. It was as if these ladies had entered into a contract to support me at all times.
In addition to being caring they were also my cheerleaders. They encouraged me to make improvements and to champion my own personal needs. I amped up my makeup routine… took my wardrobe up a few notches and started to care a little more about my appearance. I made time for trips to the mall to buy perfume and other items that allowed me to stride confidently amongst the group.
My bff's were oblivious to my weight. They were drawn to my quirky humor and quick wit. They couldn't get enough of my advice and practical nature. My girlfriends were fun. I wanted to spend all of my time with them whether it was in person or by phone. I looked forward to our outings and phone calls. We contacted one another daily.
I valued each and every woman in my inner circle. At times, they seemed like the perfect complement to my life. They helped me to restore balance and keep my sanity. Their compassion and wisdom motivated me to find myself. I never imagined anything in our lives being capable of uprooting our dependency on one another. With such a mutual understanding of each other’s needs, our identities started to co-exist as part of a special relationship. We had exceeded the level of friendship and become like family. Our voluntary alliance seemed like the perfect alignment of destiny.
As time progressed, these friendships started to suffer from distance and falter on their own. Some of my friends had been transient in nature. As military spouses, they would come and go as the armed forces dictated. Sometimes the friendship was stagnant because one of us was growing while the other seemed content with the current state of her life. We started seeing eachother less. Conflicting schedules, constant needs of children and marital concerns widened the gap between having time and making time. Slowly we drifted away from lunches, shopping trips and making future plans and relegated ourselves to a different position. In essence, we demoted our roles in each other's lives. The daily demands of life had taken over.
It was at this time, that I experienced a drastic change in my life. I lost a substantial amount of weight. Suddenly I was not the fat friend… I was "a" friend. Although I was still the same woman, I imagine there were subtle changes in my attitude. A more confident and self-reliant woman emerged from the cocoon in which I had buried myself. Now, my friendships, already strained in their individual ways, would begin to deal with the new me. Suddenly there was a shift in the conversations with some of my friends. The subject matter seemed to center around my efforts of obtaining an ideal weight. There was interest in my healthy lifestyle. Some of my friends wanted to know my diet, my workout routine and my clothing size.
Never one to shy away from sharing my life with others, I was eager to answer questions. It took me awhile to realize that these conversations weren’t always helpful. What I assumed was a newfound interest in how my goals were attained was actually the beginning of a disconnect in some of our relationships. Naively, I had never considered my weight to be a factor in my friendships. My friends had not berated my choices when I was overweight. They did not discourage me from eating fast food. They had been silent bystanders… often times co-conspirators. I admit these women did not have the same struggle with weight. They did not need to limit their food choices or make the same concessions and they chose not to interfere with this part of my life. They had refrained from being critical.
Weight, I suppose, was a taboo subject. Perhaps, my friends thought that the mere mention of it would be perceived as them casting judgment. For whatever reason they had chosen to abstain from the topic entirely. Now, inundated with constant remarks regarding weight loss, I found the conversations mundane. It started to feel like our hours long gabfests were lacking sincerity. It was, as if, our interactions were forced. The days of discussing random issues at length were gone. Overnight, some of my friends quit caring about the childlike pursuits of my youngest, the mature decisions my oldest child was making or the ways in which my husband was aggravating me.
Attempts to steer the conversation away from weight failed miserably. It appeared as if the only subject I was associated with was weight. It felt as if a barrier was being constructed before my eyes. It was like these women that had known me didn’t get me at all. Where was all this hypercritism coming from? It was at this point that I realized I had been living in some of their shadows. The changes occuring within me were unsettling. Now confronted with some of their own insecurities my friends comfort levels were being jolted. They were seeing me with new eyes and I was unearthing fragments of their personalities that I had not known existed.
Although our friendships had been tested before, this emerging concern over my new identity was the final nail in the coffin. It was hard to listen to the constant comparisons. I did not need to know their bra sizes in relation to my own. I quickly tired of hearing about how many miles they ran at the gym. I felt like I was auditioning for a new role in their lives. In the absence of our relationships being nurtured by something other than this new fixation; we found ourselves in unfamiliar territory. We were struggling to relate to one another. Our friendships were no longer serving our needs and we were neglecting each other.
Suddenly our pact to be lifelong friends was in jeopardy. I was discovering areas of myself that were more than numbers on a scale. I absolved myself of any guilt and began to let go of what was no longer healthy. My soul was moving on. My friends were no longer able to teach me new things. Some of my friendships had become one-sided. I was starting to exist in a space outside of our relationship and shifting away from friends that ceased to be reflections of my new self. The biggest threat to our friendships had been change and I had changed. I needed more than lackluster communication and feeble attempts at expression. I longed for riveting conversations, in depth calls at all hours and souls that wanted to listen. I desired them to be responsive. I felt betrayed by their disinterest.
Letting go was incredibly difficult. Parts of me wanted to mend the broken pieces of our friendship. We had consisted of so many complex layers. It was hard to see it reduced to shreds. Feeling abandoned hurt alot. It was tough watching myself be replaced by new friends. If I had been the same person they had met.. their total acceptance of me would have been moot, but because l had evolved in an unexpected way...my friendships were fading. I felt more like an acquaintance than someone who had known all the intimate details of their lives. I felt rejected. I had taken it for granted that we would make a lifetime of memories together. Suddenly we were drifting away from the pretense that our relationships would be forever and the polite rules of etiquette no longer applied. Our loyalty changed. It didn't matter if we were sharing in each other's success. These friendships had lost their closeness.
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