Yesterday on my Facebook, myself and three different friends of mine (who don’t know each other and are not connected with each other in any way other than the fact that they know me) posted a status or article about ending a friendship. I don’t believe in coincidences, but rather in synchronicity. It seems, the Universe wasn’t just speaking; it was yelling.
I have two stories of losing long-term friends.
One wasn’t so much of a surprise. This was my friendship with a girl I’ll call Annie. I had actually met Annie in nursery school when we were 3 years old, and we became instant friends. All through elementary school we were best friends, the original BFFs, the only two in our small class who didn’t wear neon colors in the 80’s and listen to pop, but instead loved 80’s hair metal and worshiped bands like Motley Crue, Cinderella, and Poison. (Yes, I’ve always been this cool). When we got to Jr high, we were in different “levels”, meaning we no longer had any classes together. We both met new friends (I met K, who is still my BFF and like my sister, 25 years later), we drifted apart, it happens. But we still sometimes hung out and we never hated each other. In high school we ended up in the same homeroom and by our Sr. year we were hanging out again. We even shared a limo to the prom with our dates.
After HS, we went separate ways, and we lost touch, as it tends to happen. We’d run into each other occasionally at a concert or the mall, or she’s see my Mom or I’d see her sister somewhere, and we always said we’d get back in touch, but as you probably already know, we never did. Until 2009. I had just moved back to the area and we ran into each other. This time we really did follow up with the “I’ll email you’s” we exchanged, and in a matter of days, our friendship was back, like it had never ended.
We got very close again very quickly. We rebonded over my breakup with my boyfriend of 4 years and then my dating adventures; we bonded over her infertility; we bonded over both of us loving food and being over 350 pound each. And then I got Weight Loss Surgery, and our friendship changed. Suddenly, she was “forgetting” that I didn’t eat bread or pasta anymore and messing up my order when we got delivery for dinner. She started to become obsessed with us only going out to eat when we hung out, which was fine with me, but we HAD to have Chinese food, which was hard because at the time there wasn’t much I could eat. She invited me over for Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patty’s Day (her hubby and I are Irish, she’s Portuguese), then make pasta because she didn’t think we “seriously” wanted corned beef and cabbage! I wasn’t being invited over for Sat night’s around the firepit anymore, or to game night.
When we went to a mutual friend’s Halloween party, she got mad at me for talking to her husband. For the first time in 3 years, I wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving. That year, her hubby turned 30 on Xmas Eve, and she was planning to throw him a surprise party. I had started to help her plan it that summer before. But his birthday came and went and I never got invited. In fact, after the day after Thanksgiving, I didn’t hear from her until the middle of January when she finally returned my phone calls. She told me she thought I would just show up for Thanksgiving and his birthday, she didn’t think I needed an invitation. She told me she hadn’t returned my calls because she didn’t know I was upset or mad. She told me we’d hang out next week. That was over 2 years ago, and I haven’t heard from her since.
I gave up on trying to keep or reform that friendship pretty quickly after the holidays. I had reached out to her several times to offer help or advice or a shoulder to lean on if things weren’t going well for her, and she slammed the door in my face every time. She obviously didn’t want my friendship anymore and I didn’t want hers, if it was going to be a shitty one. I was ok walking away from that friendship, and even now, all I have it pity for her.
My other decades-long friendship that ended is a little different. That friendship was with a girl I’ll call Lisa. I met Lisa in 7th grade, at the same time I met K. The three of us were actually in the same “level” which meant that from 7th – 9th grades, we had all the same classes together. Lisa and K were my 2 BFFs, and while they were “friends” with each other, they didn’t ever hang out with each other.
Lisa and I had some ups and down over the years. In 8th grade we got into a fight and didn’t speak for a while. I don’t remember how long it was anymore, but I know it was a significant enough amount of time to stick in my head. Several months, at the least. Me, K, Lisa, and a couple other girls were in Girl Scouts together (told you I was cool) so eventually, Lisa and I started talking again. By our first year of HS (10th grade, our Jr high was 7-9, HS 10-12), we were BFFs again. Although my friendship with Annie got stronger in HS, Lisa and I stayed BFFs through HS and until almost the end of our Freshman year in college.
I went to college in RI and Lisa went to college in NH. She came down to visit me near the end of our Freshman year. At the time, I was close friends with, and crazy about, a guy named Charlie. We had met the previous fall and after he came back from Xmas break single, our friendship had started to become a little more “friendly”. No sex or anything like that (I was unbelievably innocent in my 20’s), but long glances that were held too long for just friends, moments of almost kissing before embarrassment took over, him bringing me flowers for no reason…the innocent sweet things most people experience in Jr high that I didn’t have until college.
As my BFF, Lisa knew about all of this. This was at the beginning of email (late 90’s…yes, I’m old) but I had kept her up to date in regular letters. Oh, Lisa and I could put any letter writer to shame back then! At one point I have over 100 pen pals (Ok, fine…I may have been a dork).
Point is, Lisa knew everything about me and Charlie and how I felt about him. Yet… yet when she came to visit me that weekend, she still decided to hold his hand during the movie we were watching (but they put their hand under a blanket so I wouldn’t see…how considerate), and she still decided to kiss him. Even better, although she went to college in NH (and he lived in NJ when he wasn’t at school in RI) she thought becoming his girlfriend was a great idea.
They lasted 3 months and they saw each other twice (including the time they met). My friendship with Charlie was never the same, and I mourned the loss of him for over a year. He was my first real heartbreak.
That was the second time Lisa and I stopped talking.
I know now that that also should have been the last time Lisa and I ever talked. 17 years later I can look back on that weekend and say I should have learned my lesson then: Lisa was not a good friend and she was never going to be worth the effort. But letting go is very hard for me, and although I can let go and walk away now, there was a time when I couldn’t do it until I was beaten and bloodied beyond hope. So two years later, at a Girl Scout reunion/Xmas party, we exchanged some polite words. Then she wrote me a letter apologizing. When grandmother passed away, I baked brownies and brought them to her house. Our friendship began again.
And from there it lasted for a long time, through grad school, job changes, boyfriends (I made it a point to never introduce her to any of mine again until I was done with them), my MS, new friends, moving, etc. When I was with Healy (the guy I lived with for 4 years), and she was single, Lisa would come out to dinner with us on Valentine’s Day or New Years Eve sometimes, so she wouldn’t be alone. I always assumed she’d do the same for me.
Nope. Healy and I broke up after 4 years and I found myself very alone. By this time, Lisa was dating a guy she really liked. She was sure he was The One. She spent a lot of time with him, and I didn’t see her much or even talk to her much, but that was Ok, because we all kind of push our friends off when we get into new relationships.
Lisa lived about 40 minutes from me. I found out one day that she had been coming to my city every single Friday night for A YEAR to watch her boyfriend bowl, and she not only never told me, she never asked me to meet up with her or join them. He bowled on a league, so I wouldn’t have bowled with them, but um, hello? You’re spending 3 hours every Friday at the bowling alley 10 minutes from my house for over a year and you never even tell me, yet when we do talk, you talk about how it’s been soooo long since we’ve seen each other and how we have to get together soon. WTF?
I confronted her about it, and we had a semi-argument. One of those where we each say what we are thinking then get it out of the way and things are good. I did tell her she had been a bad friend the last year or so. She said I had, too. We both apologized. Over and done with.
Another year, same things happened. I know I didn’t put any effort into the friendship at this point, and neither did she. I felt like if she was going to lie to me, why bother? I always tell people, no matter how bad something is, tell me the truth. Don’t lie to me. That makes it ten times worse when I find out, and I will find out.
Then Lisa got engaged. And this was where she began to actively cut me from her life. I didn’t expect to be a maid of honor. I was hoping to be asked to be a bridesmaid, but I doubted I would be. She told me neither me nor her other best friend was going to be in the wedding; family only. I asked about helping with the wedding. She said her and her Mom were going to do it all, but maybe I could help with flowers. I said great, I love stuff like that! When I mentioned her bachelorette party, she said her Mom wanted to plan it. O…K…
Lies, lies, lies.
Her other best friend was maid of honor. Her other best friend got the “honor” of planning the bachelorette party (best part – she emailed me and asked me to help he since I knew all the places Lisa liked around here. Her other friend lived several hours away. Um, do all the work for you to get all the praise? No, thanks.) She never mentioned me helping at all again. I got an invitation to the wedding, and RSVP’s me plus 1. At the time I was dating The Knight, but with his work schedule he wasn’t sure if he’d be on the road or not. But no worries, I had other people who would go with me, or I’d go alone. I had no problem going myself.
After finding out about the lies, I didn’t go to the wedding shower. Or her bachelorette party. I knew if I didn’t go to the wedding, that would be the end of our friendship, and for the last time. I thought about it for a long time. I made myself sick over it. Literally – I had such a bad anxiety attack I ended up having an MS attack. This was an over 20 year friendship. It had good and bad times, like all long term relationships. Did I want to end it for good? Did I want to sever it, or just let it fade out of existence? Was it worth trying to save? And the one question that helped me make my final decision: was this Lisa even the same Lisa I’d been friends with all those years ago?
And in some ways, yes, she was. She has the same sense of humor, the same work ethic. I’m sure a lot of the same qualities. But the base of who she is has changed, which, considering I’ve known her so long, is to be expected. The problem I have with that, however, is that I don’t like the person she is now. She’s sneaky. She tricked him into getting her pregnant. She doesn’t value friendship or people. She put everything in her life aside for a guy, to the point that she now has a husband, a kid, and one friend left. She’s selfish. She’s… pathetic.
So no, I didn’t go to the wedding. And I haven’t spoken to her since I called her to tell her I wouldn’t be there. Every once in a while I think of her, but I don’t miss her. I don’t miss her pseudo-friendship.
And all of this is what I was trying to explain yesterday to people who were saying friendships we worth keeping, no matter the cost. Some friendships just aren’t worth it. Some need to be ended, or else they will fester long after their expiration date and make the people in them sick. That’s not to say they weren’t good friendships at one point, or that they never should have been formed. On the contrary, every friendship, every relationship, good or bad, can teach us something. But the trick is knowing when something is worth saving and when something has turned to trash. That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding the strength to take out the trash.
I’ve done it twice, and I can honestly say I’m happier now.