DIARY OF A FAILED FRIENDSHIP
- HOW IT STARTED
How did we meet? A Facebook group. The children of military fathers.
The lifestyle we shared: … Frequent moves. … Leaving friends. … Leaving homes. … Conformity. … Perfect wives, perfect children. … No room for deviation. … It was security, ……. or suffocating, ……. depending on your temperament.
Because our childhoods were similar, … she saw me as a potential ally. … I was safe.
She sent me a message. “Maybe we could talk on the phone?”
“Not tonight,” I said. I was dealing with a family crisis, but didn’t explain it. It wasn’t a good time, … was all I offered. “Maybe another time,” I messaged back.
The next day she posted something very sad on Facebook. Her life was in the toilet. I messaged, “You need a friend. I will be your friend.”
She gave me her number and I called. It was late. … Even later for her. …… Different time zones. But she stays up late. So do I. Women of the night.
That’s how it began.
Bit by bit she poured out her life. Each time, just a little more. She was testing the water.
“Do you mind that I swear … a lot?” … she asked.
“No, I don’t mind.” She wasn’t going to shock me.
She told me about her father. He didn’t agree with her politically. He cut her off completely.
And her mother was dead.
Almost immediately, I realized I was her parents’ age. Before she could confess more, I had to tell her so. She thought she was talking to a potential friend/sister. … Which might have changed what she was telling me.
Was she going to disclose so much to a parental figure?
I understood her. … But, being a generation apart, … we were not going to be sisters.
Once that fact was out there, … I let her know she could still tell me everything. I knew she needed someone to talk to. She’d been saving this up. She was in pain. Yes, I would listen to her. Yes, I understood her childhood in ways her other friends did not. … Because they didn’t know our culture.
She had so, so much to say. A lifetime of shit to say.
So it began. … The late night phone calls, accompanied by cigarettes and alcohol … (hers, not mine.)
What I learned.
Her father had been controlling. He kept her away from her friends. She wasn’t allowed to go to parties.
Her mother was an alcoholic and addicted to prescription meds. Some days she wouldn’t get out of bed. Other days she did, … but she was so mentally out of it, she was an embarrassment. She was not the ideal military wife. … And that mattered.
My friend’s family was massively dysfunctional. … But to protect her father’s career, it was hidden. … Or so they hoped.
Maybe those around her family did know something was wrong, but they wouldn’t or couldn’t intervene. … They had their own careers to protect. … And her childhood friends didn’t come to her house. … She lived a hidden life.
She was emotionally isolated. She had no one to turn to. Her parents abandoned her during crises.
So she dropped out of college. Got pregnant. Had an abusive husband. Left him, but had three kids to raise. Got cancer. Became suicidal. Struggled as a single mother. Family was no help. Then they shunned her. Then, her children shunned her, too.
She still had her friends. … But either they didn’t know how bad it was. … Or they didn’t do much to help.
So that l left me. I couldn’t turn my back on her, like everyone else had. … Not after she poured her life out to me. … I’m not that kind of person.
- WHO SHE WAS
She never had a life of her own. … First she took care of her parents. … Then she got pregnant and married.
Three children, … but he beat her when he was drunk.
She left him.
Struggled financially. Creditors after her. Served with court papers. … If she ignored them, she could go to jail.
Was suicide a way out? … She had tried twice before.
She’s been trapped her whole life.
There was a pattern. … As soon as something good would happen, something bad would happen. She couldn’t get a break. She was living on the edge to such an extent that her luck could go bad quickly.
Her world is small. She’s lived in the same area for 30 years. … Except for two short moves to escape the husband.
She’s been living in her high school bubble. … For 30 years. The same friends. The same clothes. The same music.
Her life is frozen.
She has adult responsibilities, … but she’s 19 emotionally: … Still the rebellious teen.
But she’s also what her mother trained her to be: the hostess. … To give good parties. … Cook good dinners.
And her father praised her for it.
Her apartment looks like her middle class childhood home. … But she invites grungy guys into it. … They have sex. … And then she serves them gourmet meals in the morning. … They don’t know what to make of her and don’t come back. … A disconnect.
She wants to simultaneously be rebellious and a re-creation of her mother. She is a hostess with tattoos and grunge clothing, surrounded by objects her mother loved.
She desperately wants to be understood. … But doesn’t know who she is.
She sees herself as vulnerable and authentic. … Which is true, …… as far as it goes. But it isn’t enough to get her what she wants/needs.
So she has constructed an image. She’s pretty, but wears too much makeup. … Like a mask. … Like a LA matron trying to look flawless. … Too superficial. … Still, the look gets her attention. … Posing. Always posing.
The same with her clothes. .. She dresses to turn heads. … Peacocking. … She wants people to stare. … Maybe they’ll think she’s a celebrity.
But she hangs out in dive bars. … Who’s she really going to impress there?
She posts a lot of selfies. Often semi-nude … (showing as much as Facebook allows). She admits she does it for attention. It’s also a compulsion. Late at night, when she’s alone and feeling bad, … she posts provocative photos of herself. … Every single time. Some women eat. She takes boudoir photos and shares them with the world.
But then she wonders why men think she’s easy. She says she isn’t, … but meets guys in bars and brings them home. After a night of sex, … she dumps some of them, … especially if they can’t deliver.
Others dump her. … Their curiosity satisfied. … A one-night stand was enough.
She’s a germaphobe … yet never uses protection.
She wants a permanent relationship. … But not with just anybody. … He has to look the part. … They have to be “the” couple. … So people will be envious.
She’s very judgmental. … Sometimes she admits to this. … Sometimes she doesn’t.
She remembers when she was 19. She was part of the cool crowd in her little town. … People wanted to join. … But not everyone got in. She had made it then. It was the high point of her life.
Then she got pregnant. Life went downhill after that.
- THE PHOTOS
We’d talk. She’d be drunk. Sometimes she’d randomly hang up. … No warning. … The phone would just go dead.
Or she’d say she was tired.
Then a hour later she’d post a seductive photo of herself on Facebook. … Sitting on her dining room table, … or in her bathroom, … or in her bed. Revealing as much as Facebook would allow.
She wasn’t that tired. … She just wanted to get off the phone to do this.
It was like an addiction. Or a compulsion.
She did it for attention. But it was always the wrong attention. She never got a meaningful relationship out of it. But she did it anyway.
Like bingeing on candy. Empty calories. But she did it anyway.
Her family wouldn’t approve. But she did it anyway. Or maybe she did it BECAUSE they wouldn’t approve.
Her sons don’t speak to her. But she did it anyway.
The families who gave her their babies to watch would have wondered. But she did it anyway.
Where was her judgment? Was she defiant? Was it like cutting herself? Was it the only way she could feel?
Was it liberation or exhibitionism?
- THE CRAZY FRIEND
She was lonely. Her family had rejected her. I had time to listen. Each revelation was worse. A father who never supported her. Her mother so taken over by pills and alcohol, she couldn’t get out of bed. A husband who beat her when he was drunk. Two sons who refused to speak to her.
The child support stopped. She was self-employed, but kept losing clients. So she was broke every month. The rent was due. There wasn’t enough money for food. Lawyers were sending her summons for court appearances for unpaid debts. She was thinking of suicide. … She had already tried twice years before. I lived in another state, so I couldn’t be there during this, or any other crisis. But I wasn’t supposed to call the police to check on her. … It couldn’t be on her record. …… No one would hire her. … People couldn’t know how unstable she was. … And without income, she’d be out in the street. …… Evicted.
I got her through without intervention. But it was a train wreck. I was in over my head.
Yet, how could I desert her?
But she kept threatening to end the friendship. Her other friends were better, she told me. … Even though they didn’t help as much as I did. They were her “true” friends. She told me they didn’t like me, … even though I had no connection to them whatsoever. … I had never met any of them. Whatever they knew about me came from her.
She wanted me gone. … Or so she said.
She wrote me angry texts.
I got to the point where I knew, … at the end of a long conversation each evening, … when she was drunk or stoned, … she would either tell me something I did wrong, … or she would challenge me to respond to something she said. If I didn’t say what she wanted … (even though I often had no clue what she was talking about), … she became enraged. … Even asking her what she meant set her off.
How, she demanded, could I not love her tastes in music? In movies? In TV shows?
My ambivalence about her recommendations threatened her sense of self. She was the expert. … Or so she thought.
If I said nothing, she was angry. If I said something, she was angry.
Each night she wanted me to comment on her latest Facebook post. … So the algorithm would kick in. … Which would get people to see it.
But when I did, she would say: … “NO!! Wrong comment. … We can’t be friends. … You don’t understand me!!”
She desperately wanted to be understood. Her way to do this was to share what she loved. But the wrong reaction sent her into a rage.
I wasn’t allowed to post anything on my own Facebook page, … if it made her feel bad. …… Even if it was factual. If it unsettled her, I was supposed to know better.
Anything could set her off. I never knew when it was coming. But usually it came as she was drifting into drunkenness.
I tolerated it for months. Then I snapped. I ended the friendship.
Yet I am still troubled by it all.
Why did I put up with this? … Because I knew she had issues to work through. … Maybe I could help. But it got worse.
She needed to view me as an elder who knew nothing. She was trying to recreate her childhood and teen years … and grew frustrated when I didn’t respond the way she wanted.
I was being shunned by a crazy person.
She is the first really crazy person I have known since college. Never a dull moment. But I wish I could make her less crazy.
She accused me of things I didn’t say. … She lashed out like a rebellious teenager talking to her parents. … She was sending me texts she must have composed in her head decades ago to tell them, …… but dumped it on me. It was crazy talk, but I was patient because I knew she was working things out. Emotionally she was still nineteen, … vacillating between finding a connection with parents no longer in her life, … and breaking away from them.
She was stuck and she was crazy. She needed a therapist, but didn’t have the time or money for one.
Since I knew she invented what I said, … I began to wonder how much of her life story was false. … Maybe it was true in her mind, but not based on reality.
Her family, even her adult children, won’t speak to her. They seem happier without her. Has she always been a loose cannon? Was she living in a world her mind created? Do they, too, think she’s crazy? She got so mad at me and pushed me away. Did she do that to them, too? Was she impossible to live with?
Her false accusations could have put my reputation on the line. … But our networks don’t overlap. … So she can’t do much damage. What her friends think of me, false though it is, doesn’t matter to me. Her world is smaller than mine. The people who know me wouldn’t care what she says about me.
Outwardly she is that sweet, vulnerable, caring person. Her self-image is vulnerability and authenticity. But with me, she was getting increasingly abusive. I was her punching bag.
She fought the friendship because I came to know her so well. When I voiced her own doubts, she got mad at me rather than admit I had touched upon what she was thinking. I threatened her carefully constructed life, one she wasn’t happy with. Her insecurities led her to anger.
I try not to blame the victim, but she lashed out at me.
Who was she, really?
I’ve never had a friend like that. The red flags were waving. I’ve been so careful in my own life. … I couldn’t let her take me down. Rationally I knew I had to get out. But she needed me. … I thought.
People told me to be careful. Set boundaries. Walk away from toxic friendships. Avoid narcissists like her. They never change. They use you and then reject you.
She was starting to scare me. She was becoming a burden. I was afraid this would go on forever. Tending to her was taking me away from other relationships, … but I wasn’t going to ever let her down. …… Everyone else in her life had. … I was going to show her she could count on at least one person.
I assumed that she would get over these hurdles and be okay. How naive to think my friendship would make a difference. It just got worse.
Finally she attacked me one time too many.
I saw my chance and got out.
I still think about her. How long do you stick around to help a crazy friend? I have other relationships that need my attention. It wasn’t sustainable.
I have no one to talk to about this because I will have to explain why I was friends with this person in the first place. … Didn’t I see the red flags? … Didn’t I understand her problems? … Didn’t I understand about boundaries? … Didn’t I understand there are better people to invest my time into?
Of course there was covid. We both benefited in that we didn’t need to see each other. The long distance friendship did serve its purpose. I will look back on it fondly at some point, … especially when I have writing to show for it.
- MY FIRST BFF
This friendship was intense. For the first time in my life, I had a friend who told me everything and wanted to talk to me daily. I never had that before. I wanted to know what having a BFF was like. So I had the experience. And now it’s over.
Well, I did have such a friend in college. Our birthdays were two days apart. We met the first week in the dorm. We hit it off. Then we dumped our assigned roommates and became roommates ourselves. We were inseparable.
But then I decided to marry, and I moved to another state. … Back when it was too expensive to stay in touch with long distance calls. Losing her in my life was profound. She was more fun than my new husband. But rejecting his proposal, … to hang on to a friend, …… no matter how close, … didn’t make sense. If I was going to get married, this was the man to do it with.
All three of us … my college friend, my recent ex-friend, and I … had military fathers. It was an instant connection I had with each. Our childhood cultures were similar: … Rules. … Living on bases. … Most importantly, military families move every two years, …… more or less. … Friendships are always cut short.
But unlike them, I was an only child. My childhood isolation was particularly acute. Still, I got through. And I always had friends. … But they were temporary. … Because of the moves.
This was an on-going cycle that continued into adulthood. Find a friend. Lose a friend. Never enough time to develop deep friendships that carry through life’s up and downs. I was gone before the friendships evolved.
I was guarded. Landing in a new place. Followed by sizing up who could be friend material. … Who looked approachable? … Who looked interesting? … Who was cool enough to hang with, …… but not so cool they would blow me off?
I negotiated this world. I could survive. But I craved intimacy. I had no siblings. I had no soulmates.
Then, this future BFF came into my life. She found me. On a Facebook group. She thought I would be a kindred soul.
She had a sad story. I reached out.
Within days … she told me everything. The soul connection was there. At least at first.
Well, it was one-sided. It was all about her. She had no interest in my life.
She called every night. She didn’t call to find out how I was doing. … Ever. She called because she needed an audience. I said so little, … mostly just “hmm” and “I understand” …… that I could have been anyone.
But that was okay. She held my attention. Great stories. Lots of drama. Tennessee Williams could have written about her family.
Over time, I heard the same stories. … But that, too, was okay. I assumed it was necessary for her to tell them, … again and again and again.
“Yes,” I would say. “Yes, I am listening.” I provided the “hmms.” … The “ahs.” … The acknowledgments. … Sympathetic listening.
She gave me what I wanted. Someone to tell me everything. I felt like I mattered.
But I didn’t … really. I didn’t really matter.
I could have been anyone. I could have been a robot. I could have met her on a train. … Heard her stories and then said goodbye. Maybe it was just a 1 ½ year train ride. It was time to get off. Maybe I should have gotten off sooner.
She was bored by anything I had to say. She would hang up without warning. Or get mad if I didn’t track her thoughts exactly. … Even when I didn’t know what she was talking about.
Anything could set her off. I never knew it was coming. But usually the anger came as she was drifting into drunkenness.
We went as deep as we could go. I had never done that with anyone before. I knew every detail of her life.
Toward the end, there was nothing left. … The same stories. … The same feelings. Nothing new on the horizon. Except her anger. … At me.
In truth I was ready to unload her. … Not because of the repetition. …… But our friendship was stalling out. … There was going to be no new growth. … Nothing new to share. … I’d seen the same movie nightly now.
Toward the end there was nothing to look forward to. … She wasn’t going to start a new career. … She wasn’t going to move to a new town. … She wasn’t going to get a new love affair or renew an old one. … She wasn’t going to grow.
There wasn’t enough value to keep me around.
It was an intense friendship that played itself out. She poured out everything to me. Then she was done. I was done. And it was time for it to be over. We used each other until we used up each other.
It could have lasted. If I had accepted the anger. … At me.
Finally I couldn’t.
I had gotten what I wanted. … The experience of a close friend. Now I knew what it felt like.
Being someone’s confidant makes you feel important. … Until you realize the burden is on you. My survival instincts said to get out. We were either going down together, or I was going to say no.
I still wanted the friendship. It still had its moments. But not where it was headed.
And the anger.
So I said enough.
She’s out of my life now. As if she died.
Once you get really close, … the potential for it to break permanently is there. I didn’t understand that before. If it is casual, you can drift in and out. If it is deep, … but then breaks, … there’s nowhere to go with it. You know it’s really broken. There’s no pretending it isn’t.
All great relationships are ultimately temporary. People change or they die. There will be loss. We learn how to fill the void. Or live with it.
I will never have another friend like her.
I don’t need one.
I had my BFF experience. It will last me a lifetime.
I have lost something, … But I gained the experience. The friendship will become a script in my head.
I will package it up. It will become a “thing.” A source of creativity.
I can take it out. Tweak it. Put it away. Take it out again and add some words. The friendship had to end to open up my life.
- THE STORYTELLER
We don’t share the same taste in music.
We often don’t share the same taste in movies or TV.
Mostly we don’t read the same books.
We don’t dress alike.
She’s showy. I’m more introverted. I don’t seek people looking at me.
So what was her appeal?
She had fantastic stories. Her family was straight out of a Tennessee Williams play. A drunk mother who couldn’t get out of bed, … or was falling down, … or throwing things, … or talking inappropriately.
A controlling father.
And her day-to-day saga was a real life reality TV show. … Endless drama. Did I want to be in the middle of it? … Not really. … Having some distance would have been better.
But I was available, … twenty-four hours a day, … for those calls.
Was I relieved to have it end? Honestly, yes.
But what I miss are the stories. She had them and told them well, with dramatic effect. She could have done a great podcast, … which I encouraged her to do, but she was afraid.
So that’s what it boils down to. I felt needed, and I loved the stories. But I guess I can find the stories in books.
- THE ENERGY
She was an energy vortex. … More than mere coincidence. … She did pull things in.
And yet, how could she have misread me? Was that energy just for her? Was it only her own universe? And if she had it, why didn’t she control her own destiny?
For our friendship, maybe she was a black hole? She needed so much.
She was a time, … emotional, … energy, … and financial sink. I know that now.
It was exhausting. But I wasn’t going to let her down.
But it’s over now.
- THE ANGER
She had anger. … At parents. … At failed relationships. … At government bureaucracy. She was a victim her whole life.
And she was surrounded by angry people. … Her father was angry. … Her ex-husband was angry. … Her children were angry. That’s what she knew.
She was never the right friend for me. Our fathers had the same job, … so I understood where she came from. But we couldn’t share ambitions. We couldn’t share creativity. We couldn’t share happy thoughts. What she cared about, I didn’t. Her default was anger. … Not creativity.
Still, I knew she was alone.
After months of listening to her on the phone for hours everyday, … she started accusing me of staying things I never said. She was writing me angry messages as she if was talking to her father: … “You don’t understand me.” … “You aren’t my true friend.” … “My real friends don’t like you.” …… (Even though I’ve never interacted with them. It was her fantasy.)
She kept picking fights. Ridiculous ones. She was testing me to see if I would give up on her.
It was crazy talk, … but I was patient because I knew she was working things out. Emotionally she was still nineteen, … trying to make a break from her parents. … Arrested development.
She didn’t have good parents. … I did and I was a good parent to my own children. … I tried to replace what she never had. She needed to know she could count on me. … Or at least someone.
She overwhelmed me. But I seemed to be her only reliable friend. … The others didn’t help her. … They had their own problems. … They weren’t there for those frequent late night crises. …… I was.
She praised her core group of friends, … though I did more for her. But that’s the way it always was. … No matter what I did, she took it out on me.
I talked her out of suicide. I got her through.
But she attacked ME.
I grew quiet. I didn’t want to trigger anger. … But she was still angry.
Anger was her way of control. She thought she was punishing me. That’s one reason I can’t go back. … I don’t want to reinforce that in her.
She needs to break through her boundaries. Rejecting people is not a life. … It makes her feel like she has control, …… but she would be better served to talk it out.
She needs at least one on-going adversary in her life. … It was Trump and her father. … Now it’s me. … I got tired of being attacked.
And why me? What on earth did I do to catch her anger?
Our friendship was a mix of crises and anger. I never knew what to expect. The future looked like it would be more of the same. She was draining me.
Finally I ended the friendship.
- MIXED FEELINGS
We could have worked it out. … But did I want to?
Sometimes I am over the friendship and sometimes not. … I don’t know why not. Other people stimulate my mind more. Once I heard all the stories, and once I realized there would be no new stories in the future, I was starting to get bored. … I valued her, but if there was no intellectual stimulation and I was getting attacked, why did I care anymore?
Her tastes in everything were banal. … Which could be forgiven, but she insisted I love what she loved. Having mediocrity forced upon me was not fun.
There will be more crises. Was I going to be only one to help? I feared that burden. It was going to drain me.
She was an angry train wreck.
But how could I say no if she needed help? … I wouldn’t.
So I was looking for an out. Each time she became angry with me, … I grew closer to saying goodbye.
At first I tried to see her side. Then she continued the attacks. … More frequent than before. … They escalated.
I stopped trying to respond.
I was going to let her disappear from my life without saying anything.
But then I hit my breaking point when she was listing my faults right after a mass murder in my town. It was on the national news. But she was oblivious.
I snapped. I never knew when she would attack me again. I told her I had tried my best to be a good friend, but it wasn’t working and I was done.
I was worn out and frustrated. I hung up on her.
She followed up with a nasty, crazy message.
The friendship had ended.
Maybe I could have patched it up.
But why, when she would repeat the pattern?
Her angry outbursts allowed me to walk away with a clear conscience. I knew I tried. I never let her down. But finally I had enough and told her so.
She did me a favor. Gone is my high maintenance friend. … Freeing me to devote more to my family and other friends.
She needs help, but I gave up trying.
We could have grown together. And if we were family, … I would have hung in there. … Had we been legally related, I would have tried.
But her demands to be understood were too much. I knew her very well, but it wasn’t enough.
I could reach out now. … But writing, rather than friendship, is better for me. … Much better. … I have something tangible.
If I were a musician, I would write a song. … Or maybe an album.
If I were a painter, I would paint.
But as a writer, I write out my thoughts. And will share them when I am ready.
I know I am not the only person to end a friendship, … with mixed feelings about it.
So why do I still care? The negatives far outweigh the positives and I already knew that. … But it’s like having a hangout. … You know you’ve outgrown it, but you don’t leave.
I don’t miss her anger, … but I still feel sad sometimes. I don’t want to go back, … but I would like to know how she is doing.
Am I feeling her sadness, … out in the universe? … Or is it just in my imagination?
If she is still sad, … what would I do? … Anything differently this time? … Probably not. … I just listened to her and tried to keep her from getting evicted.
Now, I am realizing why I left. Nothing I did quelled her anger. This wasn’t a friendship worth saving.
The sadness is a motivator, though. … Whenever I feel pain about this, I write. … Every time I am sad, I write. It’s a bittersweet motivation. And I am glad it forces me to write.
I can’t go back.
I keep thinking of the snarky comments. I showed her photos of a friend’s daughter. … Who was at a party with Ringo Starr. … I thought she’d like to see that. … Especially since she was always talking to me about music.
Instead she said she wasn’t impressed. She put me down. I was trying to share. … about the daughter of an old friend. Her reaction was mean.
This is not a friendship worth saving.
Still, I have missed her. … Like family. Maybe in the end we didn’t even like each other. But it seems like she should be there.
But she isn’t family. No place for her in my life.
A wave of depression has hit me.
After the friendship ended, … sometimes I felt relief. The depression wave went away for awhile.
Now it is back.
It is physical. It’s tangible. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach. It is palpable. It is describable.
Sometimes depression manifests itself in our bodies. … A stomachache. … A tight chest. … A panic attack. … A headache.
Sometimes it is outside our bodies. … A ghost you can sense in a room.
And sometimes it feels physically present. It stands so close you can feel it breathing on you. Sometimes it leans on you. … Pressing you. … Oppressing you. A big, looming beast sitting next to you. … Crowding you. … Taking over your couch.
But is it unmanageable? … No. I am trying to experience the depression without slipping beneath it. I am noting my feelings. I am aware of sensory issues. … Why should depression be a less desirable feeling than coffee or flower smells? … Why should feelings have to be good or bad? … Why not note them with detachment?
Having depression as an outside presence means you can sense the separation from yourself. … That is good. … You can mentally walk around it. … Maybe in time you will walk away from it.
So depression is a feeling. Not a good feeling, but one, nonetheless
Still, I want to find a way to avoid depression. I want to push a button and make it go away. … Or eat a few THC gummies. But that means not acknowledging mindfulness. That is what meditation is for. … Be in the moment. … Feel everything. … Or nothing.
For years that feeling of depression didn’t come internally. … It was something I was picking up from other people. … It was like getting radio signals from them. … I knew what they were feeling. … I could read their minds. … But what was I to say to them? …… That I was intruding into their thoughts?
So I carried the depression around. … Their depression. … Not mine. … But it was still a burden. … How do we have empathy without absorbing the pain ourselves?
Because of those experiences, … when I feel depression or sadness or pain, … I immediately think, “Who do I know who is unhappy? … Where is this coming from?”
With this friend, … I didn’t have to call, … to ask how she was doing, … because she called me. … All the time.
We don’t communicate now. … But when those depression waves hit, … I still think, is it me or is it her? … Maybe it’s her because …… I have no reason to be depressed. …... In fact, my life is going quite well. …… And losing the friendship has prodded me back into writing. ……That is very good for me. …… Since I can’t talk to her, I am writing about her.
She uses marijuana and alcohol to get through. … I have writing.
She was a distraction. … If I listened to her, I didn’t have to think about problems closer to home. …… But those are the ones I most need to deal with.
Why was I dealing with her problems, … though I felt overwhelmed? … Was it easier than dealing with my family’s? … Because I knew I could walk away? …… Because she wasn’t family? …… Because there were no real ties? …… Because she was reality TV? … Family is real.
There’s no logical reason to mourn the friendship. … So, why do I feel melancholy? … Sad? … Wistful? It was never an ideal friendship to begin with, … though I enjoyed feeling needed. Still, I was also ready to let her go. I just didn’t mean for it to end this way.
I wanted it to end. But it is still hard to acknowledge our friendship wasn’t meant to last. … It was temporary. Why is it hard to accept that something has ended? It’s like that once in a lifetime vacation, that I don’t want to take. … I don’t want a one-and-done experience. … Instead I want a daily infusion. At the same time, I had an experience I will mull over forever
I wrung everything out of that friendship there was left to extract. … I heard all the stories over and over again. … I knew everything about her. … There was no more depth to plumb.
Part of me still wants to work it out. … But would anything be different? … And would I give up my writing, …… and just be a boring person the rest of my life, …… if we became friends again?
What keeps me journaling about this is the feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I write this, it hasn’t gone away. I am troubled whether … I contemplate renewing the friendship (not a possibility) … or letting it go. I am not depressed in the same way I was after losing other friends. She wasn’t a good friend. I am just troubled. … Because there is no good outcome.
Was her purpose to get me back to writing? And did it have to end this way to give me the reason to write?
Every time I feel depressed or sad, I push forward. Those times are becoming less frequent, … but they are still motivating. It’s like running. … You do it to numb the pain.
Does pain make you write?
The pain, the discomfort acts like a grain of sand in an oyster. I write. The irritation leads to my writing. It’s a good pain. I wouldn’t write if I wasn’t bothered. I will keep writing until I have my pearl. I must roll it over and over. Feeling the words. Not done until the result is polished.
As time goes on, it gets better. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it isn’t hard. When it is hard, I write, … and I remind myself of the bad conversations we had. When it hits, I write. And as I do, I feel a combination of sadness … and joy at rediscovering writing.
- WHAT I DON’T MISS
I don’t miss all the conversations about music … where if I didn’t love the song, … she got mad.
Rarely did the songs she suggested mean anything to me, … but I tried to show interest. She was drawing upon a fairly narrow period of songs. Never once did she open my eyes to anything new. They were songs from her youth. I had heard them before. … I just wasn’t impressed by them.
She desperately wanted to be understood. She would have a TV series, or a movie, or a song and I HAD to watch or listen. Then she wanted to talk about it. I enjoyed some of the series. … Others bored me and I didn’t finish watching them.
She thought she was an expert. … But she wasn’t. Just thinking about having to listen to one more song, or watch one more TV show, … so she could talk about them, … makes me cringe.
She had so much anger. She directed it at me. Did it make her feel better? Was it the only way she felt in control? Does she reject people first, before they can abandon her?
She fought the friendship because I knew her so well. When I voiced her doubts, she got mad at me rather than admit I had touched upon what she was thinking. I threatened her carefully constructed life, one she wasn’t happy with.
She had such bad relationships … that having someone she could count on felt like codependency.
Sometimes I am over the friendship and sometimes not. … I don’t know why not. Other people stimulate my mind more. Once I heard all the stories, and once I realized there would be no new stories in the future, I was starting to get bored. I valued her, but if there was no intellectual stimulation and I was getting attacked, why did I care anymore?
Sometimes I remembered the not so nice comments. … They were a turn off. … They were off-putting.
She wanted me to understand her completely. She never tried to understand me. … At all. But I was okay with that. I didn’t need her to understand me.
Besides, I will state my case by writing about it. … Even though she won’t be reading this. I don’t care what she thinks of me.
I am pretty much free now. Few obligations to anyone. Why take on this one again? Pledging you won’t let someone down is a burden. It was intense. I’m burned out.
Still, the friendship had its moments. It was also like traveling to an unfamiliar country, … full of turmoil and drama. It shook me out of my day-to-day life.
It’s over now. Back to everyday life.
- DRIFTING AWAY
She is drifting away. She is no longer part of my life, … though I check to see what she is up to on social media …… (but I only see the public posts).
What I have left of her is fading. She seemed to have depth at the time. … Now I am having trouble remembering it. … What sticks is the superficial and the banal. … And how she was forever stuck in her past. …… Bemoaning what she lost or never had.
This friendship seems a lifetime away now. It has receded into “I don’t care” territory. I still want to know what she is up to, but I feel totally detached, … like I never knew her.
I miss the calls (because they temporarily became part of my life) … but not enough to reach out. I have few, if any, positive memories. I don’t have any unfinished business. We weren’t working toward a common goal. … It was just to help her get back on her feet.
Other than writing this down, I feel like we are strangers now, … as if we never met. I’m over the friendship. My feelings ended suddenly and completely.
I have never forgotten a friend so fast. How could I move on so quickly from a friend? … I’m older. … I like not having to take care of anyone. I am at peace knowing what happens to her isn’t my responsibility. She wasn’t that important to me emotionally … though I did enjoy hearing from her. I have other places to turn my attention and resources to.
My family now still needs me. Dropping her is one less obligation. I won’t have to choose between them. No split loyalties. A relief.
Would I reconnect connect if I had the chance? … Only if it was totally different.
Stuff her down into a little package that I can put somewhere. I only want to deal with her as something I describe. I will depersonalize her into an object I can examine from all sides. I will turn her into something I can detach from.
- LOOKING BACK
I’m not disappointed, really, in how the friendship turned out. I didn’t get into it with any expectations. Friendships end. They have a lifespan.
I am sorry I got mad. I thought I wasn’t going to do that. I always have regrets, … when I get mad at a friend. It’s better to keep my mouth shut and let it fade away from neglect. No burned bridges that way.
I could have apologized, … though it wasn’t my fault. She repeatedly told me what I was doing wrong. She was really difficult. I remember all of her snarky comments. I could have prolonged the friendship if I had tried. But apologizing would have reinforced her behavior.
Even more importantly, … if I reached out, I couldn’t write this. Not if we were still friends. I’d feel like I was betraying her, … though everything I write is true. She is very flawed, … but a friend is loyal. I knew all her problems, but I couldn’t tell the world. … Not if we were still friends.
To be a good friend, … I must just keep my thoughts to myself. Some things are better left unsaid between friends, … to preserve the friendship. Friends don’t need to be truthful with each other. … Unless they really want to work things out. … And most friendships don’t warrant that. You tap into each other as you wish, … but don’t strive for the perfect relationship.
If I reached out to her, … I’d get a dysfunctional friendship again. Staying away, and writing about her, gives me something better.
Now I realize she is more valuable to me as a topic than as a friend. Well, she wasn’t actually a friend. … I was just an audience.
I don’t like to lose friends. … I can become complacent. … If it feels comfortable, …… I don’t want anything to change. … Why change anything …… if I can maintain the same level of contentment? … Boredom could hit, but I never get there. …… Because disruption comes. Doors close. Relationships end. I move on, … always to the better. I meet new people. I have new experiences. I learn. I grow.
This friendship was going nowhere. … And I knew it. She couldn’t make changes. Her life had been the same for 30 years. … Same town. … Same friends. … Same routine. … No ability to grow. Her stories were great, … but we were never going to evolve together. … Because she was emotionally stuck.
I couldn’t talk to her about creativity. She watches babies during the day then goes to a bar or crashes after work.
And maintaining the friendship took so much time, I was neglecting other people and other activities. My family noticed and didn’t approve. That made ending the friendship easier.
If we became friends again, … would it suck the writing out of me? … Would I fill in my time listening rather than writing? … Was I focusing on helping her create rather than me creating?
If I can put away this friendship, I can learn to live in the moment. Why should this friendship be better than future ones yet to happen?
- THE CREATION
So I write.
I want to capture it all. To describe it. … Who she was. … How I felt. I am putting myself through therapy … by writing.
As time goes on, she’s becoming less of a real person. I could have invented her. … Just to write about her.
She has become a character.
I can describe her any way I want.
She is merely in print now. A collection of words. Not someone I once knew and felt close to.
Or she is clay. … I can keep molding it and poking at it until I have what I want. … And if it comes out right, it will open the conversation in my mind. … This is my way to control the conversation.
It feels good, in a way. … From no control over our friendship to total control. … From loss to peace.
She hit a growth plateau. … But as an imaginary person, she can become fully realized. She might not be able to transform herself, but I can. What we can’t do in real life, … we can do as a creation. When I want it, … I can feel a sense of shared energy. There’s a soul out there somewhere. … I can tap into it when I want. When I relax and let it flow over me, … I know I have something to write about.
Sometimes I feel like the end of this friendship was a gift. Other times I am back to sadness. Sometimes I am simultaneously happy to be writing and sad she’s gone.
But writing down the truth forces me to remember why the friendship ended. If we renew our friendship, all the messiness that was there before will be there again.
Instead, I have someone I have conjured. No work to maintain it. No disappointments. No anger. I don’t want to deal with the shortcomings of reality. The current energy-based relationship is surprisingly fulfilling. I have a relationship, but now it is just in my mind.
I keep looking to see how the story plays out. She will always have one. But what I learn reminds me why we aren’t friends now and never will be.