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?