Are Weddings The End of Friendships?

I recently saw this article “Why I Won’t Be a Bridesmaid” and loved the honest take on weddings from a non-bride perspective. Let’s face it, the wedding is all about the bride and rightly so. I love weddings, but there’s a lot I hate about them, too.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been a bridesmaid almost as many times as Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 DRESSES. I’ve had so many dresses and shoe styles and must-wear hair that finally, a few years ago, I decided I would never stand in another wedding again (unless of course it was my little brother getting married before me). There are multiple reasons I said I wouldn’t stand in another wedding again: the rules, the chaos, the Bridezillas, the selfishness of it all, the money, and of course, because I was starting to feel like I’d stood in far too many. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” everyone loved echoing in my ear.

But a close college friend got engaged so I said yes. I couldn’t imagine not standing in her wedding and was so happy she’d asked. And then a close family member got engaged, so of course I said yes. Another friend actually didn’t ask and it was (to me) a sign she just didn’t care about our friendship anymore. Our friendship was over shortly after that.

Weddings are fun and they’re a great ritual in some ways, but this quote below strikes an all too familiar chord with me–about the fact that bridesmaids are expected to stand next to our friends as we begin to step aside and sometimes lose our friends. Things aren’t ever the same, regardless of whether our friends try to keep them that way:

I can’t be your bridesmaid because I think bridesmaids shouldn’t exist. l think it’s cruel to expect your fellow besties to invest considerable funds and time into proving we’re your friend…at the very moment you’re entering a union that, by definition, means we’re stepping aside for your new “best friend and partner.” – Faran Krentcil for ELLE

I speak from experience. Always having been the bridesmaid, it feels like some people use marriage as their cue to forget their old life and friends and forge ahead with someone new (and great) into a space where single friends aren’t as welcome. Especially single women. We aren’t a threat; we’re your friend. If your husband can only hang out with couples, might that be his issue? Or is it that you’re threatened by me, your friend? Why is it that men usually keep their friends but women sometimes abandon them?

I get that I’m the oddball and not chained down. But still, have you ever been a bridesmaid? If not, hear us out. We said yes because we love you and are happy for you. We wish you nothing but every happiness in the world. But after the wedding is over and your gifts are packed away, we will miss you. We’ll miss the nights we drank together, the trouble we got into and the laughs we had before this moment-that-changes-our-friendship. And even though we want to stand by you to celebrate the change in your life, we’re faced with the fact that things won’t ever be the same and the older we get and the more married you become (and the less married I become), the less we have in common.

I’m not advocating for the no bridesmaid law, but I am just telling you this: If you are married or “consciously coupled” and you feel the Stink Eye coming from your friend, consider that maybe it’s not jealousy or resentment but the pain of slowly losing a friend she will greatly miss.

At the heart of the “bridesmaid” concept is an inconvenient truth: If you’re getting married, you’re gaining another half…and also have less time for people who aren’t your One and Only.

 

Losing Friends

A few years ago, when I first moved back to the LA area, I got another job in another office, but this time my boss was Jewish and he was not a big fan of Christians and their “killing a living thing to celebrate the birth of Jesus”, aka Christmas. It was great. I had just started my blog and he loved talking with me about fundamentalists. When I had my first radio interview, he was so accommodating, let me take time off to do the interview and even set me up in an office.

Around that time, I was a new blogger and very similar to a new mother, I wanted to coddle my blog and be with it every minute of the day. I had to feed it daily so it got big and strong and I had to clean out the spam-germs so it stayed disease-free. ha! Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away with my metaphor here. My point is I woke up early to blog nearly every morning and then I blogged daily at lunch. When I wasn’t blogging, I was working on my manuscript, but the blog was a writing exercise for the manuscript so they complimented each other.

I got a little burned out after year one of that schedule and then my second year I decided to slow down, maybe write daily for 3 months and then take a month off and repeat the pattern. I was flexible with myself and forced myself to rest. I also had anxiety so nearly every day I would log on to my email and see a new “You need to get saved” or “Are you saved?” or “I’m praying for you to get saved” email and I’ll be honest–I spent most of that year in tears. Over the course of time, and with the support of a lot of great non-religious friends and some very nice religious family members, I realized that the issue I needed to just brush it off. All of it and all of them. Sometimes that meant losing old friends, like the other day. I won’t go into it too much but someone who used to say she loved me and I was her hero went bat-shit hostile on me the other day. I personally think it was my lack of religion (and lack of respect for pseudo-intellectual fundamentalists) that did her in, but it might have to do with the fact that her dad believes pharma companies planted AIDS in the world and I just think that’s a bit insane.

Even when I act tough or hide it with humor, losing friends hurts. Even when I know they are stupid or weren’t that supportive of me in the first place (or when I know it was bound to happen).

Have you lost friends or family members? How did you cope? Or are you coping now? If you need to talk, email me at mycultlife@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Reza and MJ make me miss my gay bestie

It’s not often that reality TV makes me cry, but Reza and MJ’s fights make me miss my gay best friend.

A long time ago, before there were Egyptian pyramids, I fell in love with a man we’ll call Ted (not his real name). Ted was a writer like me and he was tall and yummy. One small issue: he was gay. Okay, so I’m not one to stay in love with someone who clearly doesn’t want me, so I moved him to the friend zone and he quickly became one of my best friends.

Ted and I hung out all the time. We he ate salads together and we got coffee together. And we talked about boys. All the time.

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At some point even based a character in a play about me and I acted in that role. And so our friendship blossomed. I was writing poetry at the time and he was writing plays, but we worked around it. Coming from a small college, someone (not me) started getting a big head when his plays were being produced in our very small theater department.

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Unfortunately, besides writing, Ted and I also had the same taste in men. Exact. Same. I mean, down to the “Omg, Ted, you will never believe the hot guy I noticed in class!” and he would say “No way!” because as I described him, we realized it was the same guy.

Fortunately for me, the men we liked were usually straight, so I slept with them all (except for the gay ones). In my defense, they asked me out and I don’t think they knew he liked him. Except for one who made out with him and me in the same night and then denied making out with him the next day, but we won’t go there because I think I already beat that horse to death.

I’m not surprised, really, that our friendship unraveled considering all this. I mean, the men he went after all fell for me (and were terrible lays). It was bound to happen.

But the thing is, I wasn’t the only guilty party in this breakup. It seemed like Ted and me were both becoming divas pretty quickly, but I started taking my diva to the back of the bus when he was around so he could shine and that’s when it all went to shit. Pretty soon I started realizing he wasn’t really as concerned about me as I thought he was once. I noticed myself constantly making excuses for Ted to my other friends when he wouldn’t show up at parties I planned and they all told me “Lisa, you deserve better than that in a friend.”

Being a pastor’s son complicated things, too. I was going through my “I think I’m not a Christian” stage and his parents were telling him that they knew he was gay (even though he had tried very hard to hide it) and that his being gay was killing his father (true story). Obviously, it pissed me off when he would call me crying because that is so very damaging to a child. All the churches I knew were full of douche bags like that, but (deep breath), they were his parents and he was close to his family like I was close to mine. He was starting to go through his first gay crisis though. He was starting to out his actual feelings for men and loving it, yet his family was about to lynch him or sell him off to the first available fat chick at church.

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With time it seemed like everything just started going to shit. It was like a really messy breakup. One minute I was giving him blow job tips and the next minute he was angry at me and always hanging out with our friends without me and I was of course, hurt. When he would forgive me, I would hold a grudge. The cycle continued.

Just like Reza and MJ, a wedge started forming between us. When I moved to LA, I started feeling resentful of him when he asked to hang out only when I said I was having drinks with my actress friend or my boyfriend  (at the time) whose father is a very famous songwriter. Not being one to feel comfortable with networking, I started feeling like he was using me and my friends. He was, in fact, just networking but I felt used. I wanted to hang out in our pajamas and have a sleepover. I didn’t want to plan big networking events just to get him to visit.

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Watching Reza and MJ fight, I started tearing up and then I really lost it when MJ said that she knew, no matter how mean Reza was to her, he loved her. I guess I just don’t feel that way anymore. I doubt he does love me anymore. Ted and I haven’t talked in years, and he doesn’t look me up anymore when he comes home or comes to LA. I don’t know. I know things were a certain way when we were younger and in college and they won’t be that way ever again. I’ve changed. I’m old. I have a job. He has changed. He moved away to Singapore to get an MFA.

Either way, I still love him and I miss him. A lot.

 

I Am Not A Robot

I lost quite a few friends over being overly political and outspoken about being atheist. Not wanting to lose all my friends (or fight with everyone) I worked on being more diplomatic. Diplomacy isn’t a bad thing, especially for an activist. I’ve been doing well but I’m still navigating this complicated space of someone who has major reasons to detest organized religion and the stories that could make some belief systems crumble. Even when I word things well, people get all irate. All people get irate. I don’t always feel I’m wrong but I’m not always right. There are more global concerns someone like me needs to consider when discussing religion and I’d rather bite my tongue than speak in a way that miscommunicates my concerns. In fact, I’m not even sure I want to continue what I do, but you’ve heard this before.

Ironically, I recently lost a friend over being too moderate. I was attacked by someone I care about for that. Why do people put politics and religion before people?

I’m going to continue to be myself and I am going to put people first in my life who respect that. You won’t always agree but I will always treat you fairly as long as you do the same. I’m not going to change who I am because of political mobs of people who act more fundamentalist than Pat Robertson. I am not a robot and I feel that as humans we should be able to grow past labels that confine us and move beyond stifling constraints. We should be free, especially our minds. If that means we’re lonely, then fine.

I’ve been taught so many lessons about people in my life and I’m not finished learning. All of these people’s reactions prove that very few people (including myself) are actually open-minded and friendships are more fickle than I thought. People will worship you when they need you and discard you when you don’t conform to who they want you to be. I care about those people…to a point. But in the words of my friend Brenda, I don’t need people like that in my life. And neither do you.