I used to pride myself on being a really good friend.
Then the circumstances of my life changed, and I became less good at keeping in touch with friends. And it got worse and worse when I began to struggle with depression, and picking up the phone started to feel like a climb up the Everest, and trying to arrange to meet up with a friend was just… no way… even though I knew in my head that meeting up with a friend is good for me, still it felt impossible to gather up the energy required for arranging something and getting up early enough and somehow managing to get the other stuff done which needs to be done – there was a stage when getting the shopping and cooking done was pretty much all I could do.
So in recent years I have definitely not lived up to my expectations of myself as a friend. People I was communicating with online did still hear from me, but anyone who was not on the social networking sites where I hang out – they mostly got left out in the cold, maybe getting a newsletter once a year and maybe just a card or maybe not even that.
The plus side of all this is that it has changed my own expectations of other people. Because I’ve seen in my own life how you can’t always live up to that “ideal friend” standard, I no longer expect others to always be there for me, I understand now that if I don’t hear from someone for a while, it doesn’t automatically mean they don’t like me any more, it doesn’t mean they don’t care, it may simply mean they have a lot else going on and simply can’t – learning that I am weak and flawed (not that I didn’t know that, but you know, we sometimes need reminders, we need the truth reinforced in our minds) has helped me to be more accepting of other people’s flaws and weaknesses.
I realise I am not, after all, SuperFriend, so I’m no longer expecting others to live up to that either.