To The Friends Who Go Weeks Without Responding To My Texts
And so I say to the friends who go silent for days, weeks, even months, I get it.
Before I was a mom, I used to send people texts or call them and then start worrying when they didn’t get back to me immediately. I’d spiral and start to wonder if I had done something wrong or if they were ignoring me.
Then I had kids and I got it. Suddenly, I didn’t always have the energy to return phone calls. And even if I did, I wanted to spend some of my downtime doing absolutely nothing, or getting into a book or a show without any distractions because it seemed to be the only way I could recharge. It wasn’t about the other person at all. It was about where I was in life.
When I was going through my divorce I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to respond to texts or calls. My mind constantly raced, worrying whether I could make enough money to stay in our home. I was always handling things independently now that I was a solo parent. I wasn’t in the mood to talk, and I didn’t have the energy to fill anyone in on the progress I was or wasn’t making.
It was nothing personal, of course. My friends and family wanted to check on me and see how I was doing. But there was a big part of me that didn’t want to share my life because it felt like work. And when you are struggling with something heavy, everything can feel incredibly difficult.
We all have times when life is slower, then blocks when we are knee-deep in something: Taking care of a sick loved one, dealing with a death in the family, struggling with our kids’ behavior, and feeling stressed about work. These are the times it takes more energy to do things like answer texts and phone calls because we have so many other things on our minds.
I understand now that my reactions when I felt people weren’t getting back to me soon enough — or even when they’d go weeks without responding to a call or text — were purely selfish. I wasn’t able to take a step back and realize their reaction to me reaching out had nothing to do with me. It was about them and what they needed at the time. Sometimes self-care means tuning everything extra out and only focusing on the absolute necessities in life. Sometimes you have to give people the room they need.
My best friend of over thirty years is struggling. Her mother is sick and she’s homeschooling her daughter. We haven’t talked much since before Thanksgiving. But while I miss our weekly chats and daily text conversations, I understand. Her silence isn’t about me. She needs to save every sliver of energy she can to get through her days.
I still send her a weekly text to let her know I’m here, I’m thinking of her, and I love her. Sometimes she responds and sometimes she doesn’t. That’s ok.
And so I say to the friends who go silent for days, weeks, even months, I get it. I’ve been there and I know it’s nothing personal. Not hearing from one of my loved ones will never make me love them any less. Sometimes the best way to be a friend is to be patient and understanding and just leave the window open for whenever they do come back.
Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.