And in turn, my depression
I've had a lot of friends in the past, but I can't say they were close. They were more like casual friends, if anything. The kind of person you can call up to play some video games and share a meme or two, but you couldn't sit down and have a serious conversation with them. You couldn't talk about your hopes and dreams. They were filler, and I didn't mind it for some.
But when it concerned friend groups, I always felt like the odd duck out. That awkward tag along you invited out of pity, not because you desired their company. I was, as I have come to realize, just a “background friend”. I knew the feeling for years, but always struggled to really put a name to it. I recently came across this article, and was relieved to see that many others felt the same way. I've seen a lot of this first hand, and most recently with my last friend group.
Now, falling out of friend groups is nothing new to me. As that background friend / floater, I've watched people pair off and / or bond en masse, while I'm left to awkwardly fiddle with my phone in the corner. But I always had another group or friend I could slip back to. But what happens when your friends have friends and groups outside of you? And you've got no one to turn to? Well, I'm going through something like that right now. I will say that I'm fortunate enough that my best friend is also my partner, but they're also my only friend.
I decided to split from my last friend group a few months ago. These are people I've known for years, going back to 2013. We met on a role-playing forum for a popular anime franchise. We wrote together, but we also gamed, and even watched shows and movies, via online stream sharing services. At some point, we started playing D&D. It was one of the best times of my life. But things changed.
They began splintering off into a separate chat to play games with other friends, games I wasn't particularly interested in. I stopped getting invited to things long before that, but I still had other “friends” and groups to keep me entertained. But even those friends and groups started to fall off, leaving me with the empty shell that was once my main friend group. But even within the group, I noticed one guy stopped chatting at all, only showing up for our weekly D&D game. It was around that time where I also started to see the D&D meetups as something we did out of habit, not true enjoyment.
Apparently I was the only one who felt like this.
“It's just one person,” you may say. But aside from me and two others, everyone else was in this other group chat. They'd even tried pulling me into it, after an estranged friend claimed to “miss” me and wanted to speak to me more...but couldn't be bothered to actually DM me for some reason? Naturally, I declined. I'm an introvert, I'm shy, and most importantly, I greatly dislike meeting new people. It's rarely fun for me, especially when I'm the only one who doesn't understand what's going on. But after that, chats in our main group started dying off altogether. We'd only talk when it came time for D&D, and even then the chat was almost exclusively focused on the game. There was little time to catch up with everyone and see what they'd been up to over the course of a week, during this time of corona.
Of course, they didn't have to play catch up. And why would they? Most of them were in the same chat, after all. Gaming and laughing and getting all the socialization they needed. Even the other two not in that group chat had their own friends and groups to fall back on, so I can't imagine they felt as isolated as I did. But again, I didn't have anyone but my partner to fall back on. Overall, I felt really isolated and increasingly lonely. Why wasn't anyone asking me to hang out and play games? That kind of thing.
So I left and stopped talking to most of them. Every now and then they'll drop me a line or vice versa, and they'll give me a lazy “lol” in return. But that's instant messaging for ya. I think I'm just done in general. I don't want to be that person who only talks, and I mean actually hold a conversation, to their friends twice a year. I don't get how people can even make a friendship work that way. Maybe I'm not so insanely busy or careless to afford to do so, but that's not a real friendship in my books. Nor is me being able to disappear, transfer ownership of a server to someone else, without anyone noticing until the day of our weekly session.
Like, check up on your friends, please. As someone who once actively did so to stay relevant in my friends' lives, it's really depressing to go unseen and feel like no one gives a damn about you. This is why I've got trust issues and have a hard time letting people in, or believing them when they say they care about me.
Because they simply don't show it.