A few years ago now, I discovered quite by accident that a few of my friends were organizing a girls weekend away with some other women we had gone to school with. While I was probably only an acquaintance or casual friend with the other women, I had always considered myself a part of that friendship group, so it came as quite a hurtful surprise to learn that I was not included in this particular event.
What hurt even more, was that my closest friends, who were going, seemed to have deliberately withheld this information from me. Clearly, I was hurt that they didn’t want me there, but more than that I felt that they had lied to me. Omission is grey like that, not a direct lie, but not the whole truth either. I am sure I had discussed upcoming plans with them, and while I can’t recall specifically if they had lied and said they were doing other things, or just vaguely said they were having a quiet weekend, either way I felt they had chosen to deceive me.
Of course, many years later, I can see now that my friends may have had good intentions. Naturally they hadn’t mentioned it, because my exclusion would have been painful, and seemed mean, so it felt kinder, not to mention easier, just to keep the information from me. Basically they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, and it’s pretty hard not to say I understand that, because honestly, I do. I also understand that they didn’t want to hurt me, by telling me the hurtful thing that they knew they were planning to do to me. They knew their actions were hurtful and they didn’t want to make a different choice to spare my feelings.
I knew my friends had stronger friendships with these other women in our group, and I knew they saw them outside of me, separately. I guess I just didn’t realise that there were group events happening to which I wasn’t privy. I had other friendships outside of this group. I had taken to going on girls trips with at least one of these friends, so perhaps my friends thought it was no big deal – if I could go without them, why were they not allowed to do the same? However, I never lied to my friends about these other friendships, I didn’t expect to invite them as they did not know these other women, they were not mutual friends. (That’s not to say they agreed. Perhaps they were hurt not to be included?!)
The expression “what we don’t know can’t hurt us” comes to mind....and maybe if I’d never known, I’d never have been hurt. I cannot say that I have never lied to a friend by omission, for lots of different reasons, I have. The reason this particular omission felt different is because it felt like the omission was our friendship - that they forgot to inform me I was no longer a part of it!
Those friendships ended after that, and although that was the catalyst, I can see now, in hindsight, that they’d been heading in that direction for a fair while and I guess I just didn’t want to see it.
So, if I didn’t appreciate the omission, despite my friends best intentions, would it be fair to say I’d have preferred if my friends had sat me down and explained why I wasn’t invited? Ironically, not long before this, one of my friends did just that. She was having a housewarming dinner party and she’d sat me down to explain that she thought I’d be more comfortable not being included as she was inviting my ex fiancé and his new wife.
That conversation didn’t go well either, leaving my friend unable to express why she’d chosen to invite him over me (because she was friends with his wife.) I ended up in tears, which made my friend feel terribly guilty. I shouldn’t have done that, although it wasn’t my intention to make her feel bad, I was genuinely hurt.
Anyway, my point is that telling me hurt no less than not telling me. The message was clear either way - I wasn’t wanted. There was not going to be an easy way to give me that message and either way, I should have accepted and respected my friends choice quietly and graciously. The reason I didn’t was because I made it about me being excluded rather than about the group dynamics, which would have been compromised had I been included. I understood that, I just didn’t care. If I’d cared about how my friend was feeling, I’d have shown more consideration for the delicate position she found herself in. Unfortunately, as is human nature, we both cared more about our own feelings, wants and needs than each other’s.
So, that brings me back to the question - is omission an omen? Yes, I do believe it is. An omen that your friends don’t feel they can talk to you without you making it about you.... An omen that they don’t think you can handle the truth, and an omen that although they knew they were going to hurt you in some way that they are going to do it anyway. It could even be said that it’s an omen that they wanted to avoid accountability for shady behaviour or choices that didn’t reflect well on them as friends or as people. If they are doing something that may change the way you view them, they are unlikely to divulge.
That said, remember, life isn’t black and white, it isn’t simple. It’s ok to feel your feelings, but I’d advise against defining people or friendships as good or bad based on choices that made you feel a certain way. What is it they say “everybody hurts you, it’s just about who’s worth hurting for.”
Generally speaking people don’t walk around thinking of ways to hurt you, but sometimes you’re collateral damage, and sometimes it bees like that! Nobody’s perfect... not even you.... or me!! Lol I can think of at least one instance in my own life, whereby if my friend hadn’t told me something that changed the way I viewed her, and felt about her as a person, we’d still be friends. I guess that’s an omen too though, that she couldn’t be her true self around me, which is sad, but ultimately true. In which case we are better off this way.
The biggest issue with omission is the expectation that we were entitled to certain information. As I wasn’t invited to the weekend away in the example here, it really wasn’t any of my business I don’t suppose. I should have stayed focused on what I was doing and not what they were doing without me, as I would have been doing had I not known. Ironic. Lol
These days I do my best to take a hint, if I’m not wanted, I wont be around, if you tell me or not. If there’s something someone isn’t saying, then I’d probably rather not hear it! The end.
Your Best Friend ForNever