I haven’t been posting because my writing brain is clogged by being dumped by my friend in September. I’ve wanted to write about it while simultaneously putting it off. On the one hand, I don’t want to seem like I am soliciting sympathy because that would be gauche. On the other hand, there’s all these things I want to say and can’t say to her since she cut off communication before I could respond. Perhaps the biggest issue is writing about it and possibly exposing her identity. I am somewhat concerned about hurting her in a malicious way but also, if you, my friends, see me break someone’s confidence, even someone who betrayed me, you’ll think that I will do that to you. And your trust is extremely important to me.
With all that in mind, I am going to write about this break-up in an attempt to express to you what she would not allow me to express to her. I will do my best not to let her identity out of the bag. I am not planning on being nasty nor will I attempt to drum up support for me by bringing her down. But I won’t promise to be nice. Because while I am trying to be a decent person, I am also angry.
Stacy (not her real name, obviously) claimed in her break-up email (Seriously. An email.) that I wasn’t a good friend to her during a particularly difficult year. (She had some medical issues that kept recurring and her doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on.) She also claimed that I am too negative for her.
Now, I can see how this would turn her off. It would turn me off, too. Except that neither of these things are true. Stacy said I was not caring, sensitive or compassionate regarding her medical problems. Funny, because I recall being quite attentive to her when the problems began. But as the year went on, she rebuffed my attempts to be there for her with, “I’m fine,” or “I’m good, I’m staying focused on work.” I trusted that. I believe that people are capable of asking for what they need. I won’t shake that belief just because Stacy wasn’t able to do that. In fact, in her break-up email (Yup. I said it again.), she admitted that even though she might have said she was fine, she wasn’t. And I was supposed to know that. Right.
In reality, if Stacy had asked me months before she made up her mind to end our friendship what my reaction was to her medical situation, she would have found out that I was concerned for her, that I felt badly and that I didn’t know what she needed. I was staying quiet about her health because I thought bringing it up would remind her of something upsetting. When Stacy said she was going “underground” to think for a while, I left her alone. I sent her a few emails that focused on some things I was dealing with because I was trying to make her laugh. I believe she thought I was needing her and that needing her when she was so unhappy was insensitive. But she never asked.
In my response email (that I am confident she deleted before reading), I told her that she sent mixed signals. But I was wrong. She told me exactly what to do – let her be. I am angry that Stacy implied I am a self-centered person based on directions she gave me on how to be a friend to her. That’s kind of messed up.
Regarding being a downer, well, I was for a while. But I think this complaint is more a reflection of her envy of my life and accompanying annoyance that I was depressed when I had it easier than she did. There. I said it. I think she was jealous of me.
Now, let’s get something clear about that statement. If say “She’s just jealous,” then that implies that I am worth jealousy, and that is arrogant. I think of it this way: jealousy is a human condition. I am guilty of envy, too. The cost of this envy has been great. How I deal with it now is I face it – I admit it to someone, usually my husband. This way, I can work through it as an emotion, not reality. I am not looking down on her envy; I am trying to call it like I see it.
Also, I am basing the accusation of jealousy on times I have shared myself and her reaction hasn’t been terribly supportive. Not necessarily cutting me down but commenting how “different” her life is. And there was one specific conversation about where I buy my face cream that has lingered, even with her apology.
I believe, if I’m right about the envy, that it had little to do with me and more to do with a family member she had issues with (as so many of us do). And if that is the case, then I wasn’t a healthy friend for her. But that kind of realization would have been closer to the truth than the bullshit she wrote in her break-up email. (Yup. I’m still appalled she wrote an email.)
As I wrote previously, I went through a rough spot in the Fall. But Stacy didn’t know what was going on with me other than reading my blog, my Twitter stream and my Facebook updates. Now, I’m truthful in all of these communications but they can never replace a person to person conversation. And I purposely didn’t call Stacy about my issues because I didn’t want to bother her with my life – she had enough to deal with. Apparently, she read all of my “moments” and concluded I am too much of a downer for her. She even took a tweet I wrote when I really frustrated with Lillian (“I’m over motherhood.”) and put it in her goodbye letter as an example of what a negative person I am. I dig, I suppose. What kind of person does that? It would be laughable if it weren’t so disrespectful.
A few miscellaneous things:
- Stacy had a thing about being “honest.” My response? Honesty needn’t trump good manners or thoughtfulness. Sometimes, Stacy would be honest at a time or in a way that was inconsiderate. I won’t miss that part of our friendship.
- I don’t think she liked my daughter. I met Stacy when L was at her worst with the tantrums, so I can get her concern. I’m glad that she didn’t tell me the truth about that.
- Because of several of L’s outbursts and Stacy’s subsequent uneasiness about L, I felt that she judged my parenting. More often than not she would say that I was being too easy on L or that she was being manipulative and I didn’t see it. Her comments made me question my motherhood. That isn’t healthy.
- I am a competitive person. Stacy is highly driven. Her drive brought out my competitive nature and I spent a lot of time trying to be as successful as she was in a career. I asked for her help and she gave it (I am thankful for that). But I don’t need to work as hard as she does in a job. I have my own path to follow and if I am comparing myself to her, then I am not following that path. Stacy brought out something negative in me, and that isn’t her fault. But that does make her an unhealthy friend for me.
The hardest part of it all, though, is that Stacy took away my ability to communicate to her. The end of her email said, “Good luck.” No invitation to listen to my side of the story, to let me feel the same closure as she apparently felt. Communication is the one thing that makes me feel whole, healthy and alive. When she took away listening to me, she took away my power. Writing this to you will never be the same as saying it to her over the phone and getting to a place where we can say good-bye and good luck with real honesty. I know that I could get to that point if we were speaking face to face. I’m not a vindictive person, and I am not cruel.
Apparently, she doesn’t live by the same standards.
As a result of this break-up, if I walk into my gym after 9am I nervously look at women who are around 5’4″ to see if they are her, terrified we might run into each other. I have less of a reason to hang around Twitter, a social networking tool she told me about and got me started on. I wonder how I am going to get an Etsy marketing business going without her connections, which she generously shared. I slowly go through my Obama notecards she made for me because I know once they are gone, they are gone. Once and a while, something funny happens and I think, “Stacy would think that’s hilarious.”
But I don’t feel a real hole in my life, like I would of a close friend who ended our friendship. I guess because she wasn’t much of a friend for so long, the transition was made before she wrote her email.