In the often challenging world of female friendships, there are times when, even though you have a lot in common with another woman, and you are, on the face of it, friends, you just don't feel like you measure up.
To use the well worn cliche, it's not them, it's you.
I have (or rather had) a friend. I'll call her "B".
A couple of years older than me, she had held a high ranking position in the HR department of a manufacturing firm. I, at the time was Marketing Director of a law firm but, nevertheless, there was no comparison in the authority our roles carried.
She was eventually made redundant but reinvented her working life by becoming CEO of a new Welsh company.
Whilst I left work to become a stay-at-home mum, she became a single parent, giving birth to a little boy in her late forties.
But, unlike me, "B" returned to work and continues to build her professional reputation whilst juggling all the challenges that single motherhood throws at her.
This she does with spirit and a certain amount of "gung-ho-ness" that makes me feel like I have no 'coping equipment'.
For a while we met up regularly.
We would go out for meals and discuss our children - who all played well together.
During school holidays, we would take the children on outings. I would invariably forget something basic - like plasters or a change of clothes for the kids, whilst "B" would have everything prepared - medication, clothing changes, food, snacks, you name it, she had thought of it and, thoughtfully, provided it.
We even had a week's holiday together one summer which seemed, on the face of it, to go smoothly and to be enjoyed by us all.
Just occasionally though, I would sense her frustration with me.
I am quite quiet, occasionally lack confidence and am rubbish in large groups.
I always preferred to organize events rather than network at them.
"B" could walk in anywhere, from business conferences to shops or the restaurants we ate at and take charge.
She had a way of getting others to do her bidding whilst remaining charming and confident at all times.
I began to feel 'lesser'.
If was as if she unwittingly held up a mirror to my imperfections, reminding me of all those social quirks and inadequacies I had fought so hard to quash (or hide) in my often wobbly climb in my marketing profession.
So, being rather cowardly, I stopped calling.
Weeks drifted into months and now it is almost a year. I know that I should call but I can't quite bring myself to do it.
I figure that friendships should not feel 'forced' or make you feel as if you don't quite measure up.
The irony is that these thoughts are in my head and have never been expressed by "B".
My kids often ask after her and her little boy and I'm hard pressed to know what to say to them.
I think the story also highlights what happens when you give up work to become a stay-at-home mum.
The effect it has on your confidence and sense of self-worth may well affect more than your immediate relationships with your partner and family, but impact upon your wider circle of friends as well.
It is like watching the ripples from a stone thrown into a lake getting bigger and bigger.
I know I should pick up the phone and have an honest chat but I will have to be in a stronger place than I am right now before I do.
Have you ever experienced this?
Perhaps you have found friends mysteriously avoiding you and wondered why?
I'd love to hear your stories.
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