Miriam said she forgave me, but there was a layer of mistrust wedged between us that made me feel sick
ver the next few weeks, an interesting thing happened. Although I was in constant contact with Ahuva, I was suddenly feeling lonely. The sense of connection we’d developed started feeling less close and more forced.
I tried making sense of it. Ahuva hadn’t changed. She was sharing every detail of her life with me, too much even, to a point that often made me feel uncomfortable. And because I was feeling less comfortable, my instinct was to share less about what was happening in my own life. As a result, although we were spending many hours shmoozing, I still felt lonely.
Coming to this realization made me feel horrible — and guilty. Ahuva continued being the loyal friend she’d been before, but I… wasn’t. I was cautious. I picked and chose what and how much to share, which, I had to admit, began to cause a rift in our friendship. It started to feel dull.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision to share less. It was more of a natural development, something dictated by my gut. It was as though my psyche was resisting, fed up with my unhealthy social diet.
Things started changing. In the past my heart would leap with excitement every time Ahuva called; now, my heart dropped.
I wouldn’t admit it. Not to her, not to myself. It bothered me immeasurably. I missed the way things used to be.
To fill the void, I slowly, carefully turned to Miriam. It wasn’t simple. What did I expect Miriam to say? Oh, hi, Devoiry, so glad you’re back, perfect, let’s be friends again, just like before? Seriously, I had hurt her deeply. Whether intentionally or not, I had distanced her from my life, to a point where we hardly spoke anymore, hardly knew what was going on in each other’s lives.
I tried explaining myself to her. I understood that the only way to repair our relationship would be to come clean, tell her everything. Rather than whitewashing the whole saga, I acknowledged everything that had transpired, validated her feelings, and sincerely apologized for all the pain I’d put her through.
It wasn’t fun. And it didn’t work like magic. Miriam said she forgave me, but there was a layer of mistrust wedged between us that made me feel sick.
It was during this time that exciting things were happening in my life. A shidduch that had been mentioned a few times got serious, and things were moving fast. A date, another date, another. Meeting his parents, another date, and before I could digest what was happening, we were making a l’chayim and shrieking and calling the whole world to share the great news.
Miriam burst into my house, flushed and panting, waving an enormous bunch of balloons. She ran over to me and hugged me tightly, tears streaming down both of our faces as we laughed and cried. I was so grateful to her for accepting me back, for laughter and balloons and shared excitement. Grateful for the ordinariness of our friendship.
Then Ahuva showed up.
From her position at the door, I caught her squinting eyes, the air of drama and mystery that always surrounded her. I felt that familiar and uncomfortable clenching in my stomach.
She wasn’t holding any balloons — it wasn’t the way she did friendship. She walked over to me and looked at me intently. She didn’t say anything — just gripped my hand, trying to transmit her excitement over my engagement.
But the same gesture that had been so warm coming from Miriam just made me feel distant from Ahuva.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 768)