A friendship gone…

I used to be friends with a girl named Elle.  Elle and I met in high school…on the second day of school. We wore uniforms…grey skirt, white shirt, maroon sweater…and most of us wore black tights or knee socks.  On the day we met, Elle was wearing bright pink and orange tie-dyed socks.  I asked another friend “Who is the girl with the crazy socks?” and she introduced me to Elle.  We were friends from then on. 

Over the next almost 20 years, Elle and I went through a lot together.  There were boyfriends, broken hearts, other friendships, vacations, new jobs, a cancer scare, two affairs, new apartments, weddings, several births and deaths in our families, the death of a friend, and a broken engagement between us.  We were extremely close and we did everything together.  At one time, I thought we’d be friends for the rest of our lives. 

But Elle and I aren’t friends anymore.  I was the one who effectively ended our friendship and I had a lot of reasons for making that decision.  I felt that our relationship was very one-sided with me always giving and her always takingand I resented that balance.  I started keeping a list in my head of all the things I’d done for her…like when I came home from school most weekends my sophomore year of college so I could be there for her during a particularly difficult time…like the friends I gave up because I took Elle’s side in something…like the times I gave up a vacation with J so I could go on vacation with Elle…like the lies I told to keep her affair a secret.  I also started thinking about the ways I was wronged by her…like the time she started dating a guy who’d recently broken up with me…like the time she took off down the beach with some guy and made us late for curfew resulting in my parents taking away my car…like the way she’d do anything to direct the attention of every man in the room to her…like the time she tried to make me think that an innocent IM conversation between her and J while I was on vacation was anything but innocent. 

After Elle’s affair and subsequent broken engagement, she lost a lot of friends and the pressure I felt to be there for her was greater than ever.  So was the level of drama in her daily life…drama I wanted no part of.  I constantly felt guilty if I chose to do something that didn’t involve her and I often invited her along when I really didn’t want to.  Either that or she invited herself. 

The beginning of the end actually started out like that.  Elle invited herself along to dinner on J’s birthday.  After dinner…and wine…and some other herbal refreshments…we decided to watch a movie.  Instead of feeling mellow, I was feeling agitated and the fact that J and Elle were all giggly was just making me more annoyed.  Then I decided that she was flirting with him and I got downright angry.  I’m a little fuzzy on the details of what happened, but there was a scuffle over the TV remote and the end result was that a glass got knocked off the coffee table and shattered, red wine spilled everywhere and I asked Elle to leave. 

After that night, I tried to spend less and less time with Elle and I did my best to make sure she was never around J…I couldn’t stand to watch her flirt with him.  The final straw came on her birthday.  She was being overly dramatic and having a pity party and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it.  We were supposed to have dinner and I knew if I cancelled there was a good chance our friendship would be over.  So I cancelled.

But I didn’t just cancel.  I sent her an email detailing all of the things that I was upset about and all of the ways I had been wronged in our relationship and all of the ways I was the better friend.  It was pretty mean and the fact that I sent it on her birthday…well, it wasn’t right.  She called me and told me off and then I didn’t hear from her again.

That was 4 years ago.    We attempted a reconciliation once, but things were strained and uncomfortable and eventually we had another argument that ended things again.  After that, when I saw her on the train once in a while we would ignore each other.  I’ve been ok with not having her in my life.

The thing is, I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately.  I realized that our friendship wasn’t as completely one-sided as I’d once believed.  She was there for me when I needed her, too…like the night I got off the train to find the boot on my car due to my unpaid parking tickets and I had to borrow her car…like the time that J and I broke up and she was waiting on my front stoop at 8AM…like the night when it was 100 degrees and my power went out and she insisted I stay with her because her power was on.  I also realized that the roles we had…she was the taker and I was the giver…those were roles that I allowed to develop that way…or even created to be that way.  I can’t blame her for falling into the role that I gave her. 

I don’t regret that our friendship ended…we grew up and we were different and our friendship wasn’t working…but I do regret how I went about ending it.  It was immature and unnecessarily hurtful…and for that I am sorry.  That part I wish I could take back. 

About 6 months ago we became Facebook friends, though we still haven’t actually spoken.  Neither of us posts on FB much, but I did find out that she bought a house in NJ and she recently became engaged.  She seems happy and I’m happy for her. 

I’ve been thinking about emailing her…explaining all of this to her and apologizing for the way I handled things.  But I’m not sure if it’s better to just let it go after all this time.  So I’m asking you all for your thoughts?  To email or not to email?  What do you think?

Comments

  1. I can completely understand this issue – I think we’ve all been there in one way or another. My issue was that the girl I was friends with took to talking about me behind my back to people I didn’t like. She once told her “friend” that I didn’t care for (because this girl was trying to get with my boyfriend at the time) that I was upset about how things were going with him and my friend feared I wanted to kill myself… SHE TOLD THIS GIRL THIS.. and you know how I found out??? My boyfriend at the time had gone in a for a haircut at the salon where she worked and she asked HIM about it!!!! That was the last straw, I don’t confide in many people and when I do the last thing I want is for someone to be a loud mouth about it – particularly to someone I don’t like. I haven’t looked back because our relationship was very one sided as well – she has recently asked to be a friend on facebook but we haven’t had any type of talk since the “OK OT ADD”. I think she just wanted to see what I was up to.

    I say trust your gut – if sending the email will make you feel better about the entire situation I say do it. Make your feelings known and maybe you both will feel better about things and if you cross paths in a natural way you will be able to smile, say hi and not be uncomfortable with each other. And the email will be the easiest way to get your feelings out. Just be prepared that you may not get the response you want. But hopefully you both will, you can burry the hatchet and move on.

    P.S. I would have reacted the same way she should not have been flirting with J. With her track record she had a reason for you not to fully trust her and she’s lucky you were still friends with you after dating a guy you broke up with. “You don’t date a guy that your girlfriend was dating…. It’s like the laws of feminism or something.”

  2. p.s. you write so well – I wish I could express myself like this!!! oxox

  3. I used to be a big believer in “getting it all out”, but I found that more often than not, it hurt more than it helped – and I would end up feeling like crap because the outcome wasn’t what I had envisioned.
    As always, you have to do what’s right for you, but I am a big believer in letting things be.
    Good luck

  4. That is a tough one. I had a friend in college that I stopped being friends with once I found out she was dating my ex-boyfriend. It seemed all so dramatic and terrible then and now it doesn’t bother me. I have thought about emailing her at times but never did cause I just didn’t want to deal with it. I’m happy now, she’s probably happy now so I didn’t see any reason in bringing up old stuff. But sometimes I feel bad that we ended on a bad note.

  5. My inclination would be not to do anything else. The friendship ran its course; it’s done. But I lost a friend in college who I would love to get back in contact with so why would I tell you to do what I wouldn’t do myself.

    She and I were friends in high school. We were the only two bi-racial girls there and cliqued right away. We became roommates in college.

    Her boyfriend was awful. I told her about a specific instance when he cheated on her and I knew because the other girl told me.

    When my roommate confronted him about it, he turned it around on her even though he was the one cheating! It pissed me off how weak she was and how much he had her wrapped around his finger.

    I told my cousin, who then told someone else and it got back to my roommate that I was talking about her. She pretty much stopped talking to me after that and stuck with her boyfriend.

    I wish I could get in contact with her again.

    So basically, you just read all that and I have not answered your question at all. Sorry.

  6. Man, this is a tough call. I’ve had friendships like this in the past but I don’t think the things we went through were nearly as rocky as what you went through with Elle. Most recently I reconnected with a friend from HS (we also lived together in college) and we’d had a falling out (over post-it’s, to quote Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Hee). ANYWAY, we’ve been the best of friends since but the drama that we overcame (dating the same guy, jealousy issues, etc.) was pretty mild by comparison.

    I guess you should ask yourself what you want to have happen with this friendship. Do you want to see it grow once more? Or do you just want to tell her how sorry you are for the way you handled something that happened a few years ago? If it’s the former, then extend a hand in friendship; if it’s the latter, then maybe you can write her an email wishing her the best of luck and telling her how happy you are that she’s in such a great place now.

    PS: I don’t know how much I could move beyond her flirting with J, though. Innocent or not, it may have been fueled by some other motive, and THAT rubs me the wrong way more than anything else. Just my two cents :)

  7. I’m a little torn on this one. I can totally understand why you ended this friendship, and I absolutely get that you want to apologize. I’d encourage you to think long and hard before sending this email. Think about why you want to send it–what do you hope to come from it?

    If your hope is to rekindle the friendship, then be prepared for what that entails. And be prepared for her to decline.

    If your hope is simply to apologize for how you ended things, why is that important? Are you doing it to ease your own guilt, or are you hoping that an apology would be meaningful to her? I’m thinking her feelings might not be as hurt as you think, being that she friended you on Facebook and all. What happens if she accepts your apology? How ’bout if she doesn’t?

    Ultimately, you have to do what’s right/best for you. Good luck in making that decision. I think Elle lost out big time losing you as a friend.

  8. I totally understand. I lost my best friend of 13 years because we just simply grew apart. We are just pretty much acquaintances now. It sad and I’ve found that in trying to fix the relationship (inviting her over, etc) just leaves me even more disappointed.
    I wouldn’t push things. Sounds like you’ve both moved on. But you will probably always have that little bit of regret over the way things turned out. But in the long run, you’ll be happier and have room for new friends that fit who you are right now.

  9. What the??

    Okay, this is bizarre. For some reason or other, my comments aren’t showing up on any of the blogs I frequent and I definitely left you a very long response to this post yesterday. Sigh.

    Anyway, as many of your readers mentioned here: I’m (sadly) also on the fence where this issue is concerned. I think you have such a kind, loving heart, so the fact that you’re even considering extending a hand in friendship says a lot about your character. But I think it’s important to remember what you want to have happen in the future. If you just want to apologize for the way that you handled things at one point or another because you feel it might bring you some closure… well, that’s not a bad reason for emailing her. But it might be too late to reconcile this friendship OR it may open a whole other can of worms.

    I don’t know if I could forgive her for the not-so-innocent flirting with J. That’s just me, but I think it would always bother me.

  10. I kind of think of it the same as (most) ex-boyfriends. You usually break up for a reason, and unless both people change and work to avoid the same traps, things aren’t going to be different. I “broke up” with a friend for very similar reasons and even though there are sometimes days I feel really bad for giving no warning and not leaving things open for her to have a chance to answer, I think things are better off without her.

    It’s a totally personal decision. As much as we can give opinions, you’re the one who has to decide. I personally wouldn’t contact her. Good luck, whatever you decide.

  11. You know, 4 years later, it’s still bothering you. It sounds like you need to email her… to get it off your chest and be done with it in your own head. I mean, you’re not necessarily trying to be friends again, right? You just want to apologize for doing it the way you did. I would probably email her.

  12. The only upside to taking huge blog hiatuses is that I get to see what everyone else’s opinion is, too. And they are in both directions on this one! I guess I probably most agree with Fojoy because I, too, learned the lesson that the only person who benefits from “getting it all out” is you. And sometimes even that is yanked away…(when you experience their reaction, for example). I have also had friends that I lost touch with and then started thinking about “all of the good times and the friendship that was lost” and I reconnect. It hardly ever works out. It’s like my ex-fiances…we broke up for a reason. Right around the time I remember why we broke up, I’m in up to my elbows again. Vicious. Cycle. But I also agree with Kelly. Trust your gut and it will never lead you astray. You can always go back into it with different expectations…now that you know what each of your roles will be in the relationship. Not that you have to be Vicky Verby about it and express, “hey…YOU’RE the taker and I’M the giver in this one.” Just know that you can’t change a person and accept who she is and for heaven’s sake, don’t let who she is affect who you are or what kind of day you’re having or who comes to J’s birthday party. I call these people The Outer Circle. They get Christmas cards and lunch about once every 6 months, but any more than that and suddenly they’re all up in your bidness. Which begs the question….with a full time job, 2 dogs, a best friend who lives with you and adores you, and your list of Inner Circle Friends, do you really NEED an Outer Circle Friend? OK this is HORRIBLE to say, but I have Outer Circle Friends because I need something from them. But usually, they need something from me, too….jewelry or to borrow a car or whatever.

    Friendship is a tricky thing…especially when it is with a woman who craves male attention. I have cut all ties with my women friends like that because it’s exhausting. If you can’t kick it with me without going all flirterific on my husband, there’s the door. Please take your pecan pie with you.

    OK that was way more than I intended to say. Y’know I can talk endlessly on these things. Please let us know which path you take. And, of course, how it goes!

  13. I read this blog a few days ago. As soon as I read it I started to think of my old friend that I have lost touch with. I thought she was mad at me because I had reached out to her and not heard back. It hurt but I decided I needed to move on.

    I would think of her from time to time. It was really confusing because everything I knew about her knew that she was not one to hold a grudge or even be mad over something stupid.

    Your post made me realize I needed to reach out one more time. I found her new email address and sent her a message. I was so happy to hear back from her and that a lot of us loosing touch was a miscommunication. I’m so happy to have her back in my life! Thanks Shana for inspiring me to take that step!

    I know you aren’t looking for your friend to be back in your life but maybe closure would be a good thing?

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