'My Best Friend Ghosted Me When I Had Kids'

Tracy* and I became friends in our first year of high school. We had quite a few things in common: we both enjoyed music and fashion, but were studious, quiet girls who'd write poems or help the librarian at lunchtimes rather than trying to catch boys' attention.

We were inseparable. Every weekend would be spent at each other's houses or meeting in town, and most evenings we'd chat on the phone for as long as our parents would allow—and we looked out for each other. Due to undiagnosed autism, I'd always found socializing difficult, but when we were together, none of that mattered: we were just friends.

Even when her family moved out of the U.K., where we both lived, when we were fourteen, we stayed in touch—no mean feat in the pre-internet mid-'80s! We'd write long letters, talking about the things teenagers do, and meeting up when she'd come back to England for one week a year to stay with her aunt.

Our friendship continued into our twenties, at which point she decided to return to England to study. This was when our friendship as adults really began. We'd go out partying, have all-night chats and our shopping trips could now be rounded off with a glass of wine, rather than the pot of tea and two cups in a dingy cafe, bought with the last of our allowance.

When Tracy finished her studies and needed to find somewhere to live, I didn't have to think about it. I had a three-bedroom house, so I was happy for her to move in, asking only that she pay her share of the bills as I would never have charged her rent.

Being roommates was great. We felt free, in control of our lives and as though we were living the dream of every rom com we'd watched. I honestly thought nothing would ever change that.

When, after a year together, I married my partner and moved in with him, our friendship didn't change much. Tracy continued to live in my house until she found somewhere else, and although we would now see each other at weekends for our chats over coffee, our relationship seemed unaffected.

Then I had my first child, a boy, in 2007. That's when I began to notice changes.

Tracy had always been open in her dislike of children, and admittedly, I'd never planned to have any myself. Although I love my children dearly, I've never been an obsessive mom, one of those people who thinks the world revolves around their baby and who makes being a parent their entire personality. The one time I tried going to a mother and baby group it felt like my personal idea of hell.

Friendship Breakup
Stock image. Getty/iStock

My second boy was born in 2010, and my attitude remained the same. I loved leaving both kids with my husband when I'd have one of my weekend meetups with Tracy: it was my chance to feel like a normal person for a few hours, to remind myself I was still there under the nappies and piles of washing. When we'd meet, I wouldn't talk about the kids and would always ask Tracy how she was doing. I might have been married with children, but we were still best friends. That hadn't changed. Not for me, at least.

She'd start to say she couldn't meet up at the weekends because she'd be doing something like a trip with her walking club or a Zumba class. I understood that a single person might want to meet new people by joining groups and classes, but I began to feel as though she was blocking me out.

A few weeks of Tracy being too busy to meet up with me turned into a couple of months. During this time, my husband lost his job and I was suffering post-natal depression after the birth of my second child. Of course, I understood that she wasn't just there to meet with me whenever I wanted—she had to live her own life—but as the person who'd dropped everything for her whenever she'd had a problem in our 28 years of friendship, to find my loyalty wasn't returned when I needed someone was probably the worst pain I've ever felt.

In the end, I tried to call her to talk about it, but she never answered.

Sue Bordley Lost A Friend After Children
Sue Bordley and her friend Tracy were close throughout their lives, until Bordley became a parent in 2007. Sue Bordley

In a brief email, wiping back the tears, I wished her well for the future, and said goodbye. I may have sent the message, but I don't feel I was the one who ended the friendship. It was already over.

Of course I regretted it. Maybe I should have just stopped calling her, instead of sending the email. Over the years I have wondered about getting in touch with her, but what would I say? And, she has never gotten in touch with me.

If I could ask her anything, I guess it'd be: Why? I was still there, still her friend. Just because I had kids, did that have to change?

Ten years later, at the age of 50, I'm over it. But it took a long time. It's ironic that, as an author, my books feature strong friendships between women, often a best-friend double act, yet it's not something I can write about from experience anymore. Still, these days, whenever I feel hurt or wonder whether I should tolerate a particular behavior from anyone, I tell myself: You got over losing your best friend. You can do this.

Sue Bordley is an author from the Wirral, UK. She lives with her husband and two children and has written four novels and a bestselling book for children. Her books include Rescue Me and Sort Your Life Out, Laura Bishoprick.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

*Name has been changed.