Thursday, December 14, 2006

Struggle

"Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we've loved them, left them, or fought them." ~Gregory David Roberts (Shantaram)

Two years ago I ended a friendship that had long exceeded its expiration date. There was something definitively rotten about it, as if the center had decayed without damaging the pretty outer wrapping. It appeared to be OK, but there was an unmistakable stench that hovered around it. I was fifteen when I first met her. I'll call her KG for the purpose of this post. She was fair, dyed red hair, and had a penchant for "harmless" trouble. It took me six years to realize that although her mischief wasn't law breaking, it did have it's victims.

I was one of them.

Like a beaver building a dam in the ocean, I was too foolish to realize how little impact I was making or how much bigger than me the problem was. "Don't call me again," I told her on the day I decided to let six years of effort be swept away. "There's no place for you here anymore," I said with more confidence and finality than I really felt. She apologized, as was her way when she knew she was in trouble. The sentiment was hollow. I knew that. It was given in the same manner every time...

The night she left me alone at a pool hall so she could screw some guy she'd just met. It had been my eighteenth birthday. The Christmas she regifted a friendship necklace because the other girl hadn't accepted it. The day she killed my pet mouse, a sick ploy to get me to leave our apartment. The last phone call that began with her telling me to resign myself to a fate with a man I didn't and couldn't love. She chided, "You can't do any better!" In that moment I understood... She was talking about herself.

This morning I received an email from her. I don't even know who this person is anymore. I know that I used to love her. But whatever hole she left has long been filled. The wounds healed and the memories filed. I read and reread her apology and I felt... nothing. No gratitude or sympathy, no remorse or anger. I don't even know what I could offer her. A year ago I started this blog. It felt like such an "adult" thing to do. I can't explain it. In the process, I feel that I've grown up. My idea of friendship has become more refined, largely in part due to the wonderful people I've met on here.

I feel more connected to some of you than I ever did with my "best friend" of six years! Is that sad or wonderful? Part of me would like to respond to her email, accept her apology and give her closure. It's hard to see people hurting. But wouldn't it be more harmful if in responding I gave her false hope? I have no intention of rekindling a friendship. There's a very small part of me that's glad she's in pain. It's the same feeling you get when the bad guy gets punished. But I'm no hero. And we're all a little evil.


And we're all in a little pain, most of the time.

26 Comments:

At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous mamatulip said...

I can remember thinking with great gusto that the friendships I'd made in elementary school and had carried on through high school would last forever. Yet out of several close, close girlfriends, there are only two now that I still keep in touch with, on a very irregular basis.

You have grown up in the last year, Tink. I've been reading your blog for over a year now (!!!) and I can say with certainty that you've definitely grown, evolved, become more certain of yourself, your relationships, your place in this world.

It sounds to me that you already know whether or not you want to respond to your former friend.

Good luck.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Peggy said...

It does you credit that you still feel a bit of pain about this. It shows you've got a good heart. However, you've also moved on. Keep on moving! Write back to be polite but let her know that the door is still closed to her.

Part of growing up is packing away stuff that you've outgrown.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous kreints said...

I would respond, be up front and honest with her... "thank you for the apology - however to little to late- I have moved on with my life - you move on with yours."

At least whe will know that you got her email and to not try to re-attempt the freindship. It sounds like you were able to deal with this the correct way though! I have been in a similar situation with a "friend" - not an easy thing to do- end a relationship, no matter how poisenous (sp?) it is!

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Pamer said...

I've dumped a "Toxic Friend" before too, it's not easy but almost always necessary. Don't let her manipulate you back into the old patterns. Be strong and remember, it's not your fault that she is the way she is.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous OddMix said...

Well, yeah! What MamaT said so very well.

I just went back to figure out when I first read your blog. Turns out it was January 23rd - the day I "restarted" blogging. So that makes you one of my "oldest blog friends" for all that's worth.

You have, indeed, grown during this past year. So has Hoop. And you are a kind person, too, whether you admit it or not. ;)

If it were me, I think I would reply, but only to say - nicely - that I was not interested in renewing the relationship and that I wished her well. It is very likely the "kind" thing to do, and I find that doing the kind thing usually makes me feel better, regardless of where I start.

Best.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous Lily said...

Hmm. I really relate to this story alot. I am what you would call a perpetual forgiver. I climb out, only to let myself get sucked back in. It took me so many years to learn which people were my friends, who was rooting for me and who was secretly hoping I would fail. I suspect I still have that problem sometimes, and am pretty suspicious at times because of it because I wonder what was wrong with me that I didnt see things clearly.

I think about some of my friends now and appreciate that I have them, and try to let go of the people that are-as decribed-toxic. The pool hall situation sounded so much like my friend who would have sold her first born for the attention of some guy. Its deseration in some cases, sociopathic indifference in other cases.

I am glad that you love Tink enough to avoid such people now. Its a process though. I dont think you have to react, I think letting go of that stuff is healing. YOU get the closure when you are strong enough to give it. Good luck with it Tink.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Mignon said...

Why don't you cut and paste this post into a reply? And if you feel you need to, change the ending to ensure that the relationship is, in fact, done. For good.

For what it's worth, I think you're incredibly mature and wise to end this friendship at such a young age. It soemtimes takes people half their lives, if ever, to figure this stuff out.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous TB said...

Your self awareness has always amazed me Tink. And I think feeling a little bad about the situation is okay as long as you don't feel guilty about it, because you shouldn't. Taking care of yourself emotionally is the most important thing and you do what you have to do.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Chelle Y. said...

You're an incredible person now, Tink! I am so thankful to have met you and have you a part of my life. You have been the encouragement I needed in a horrible situation in my life.

Too bad for your "friend." She has missed out on a great person.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Jay said...

Sometimes I think we forgive people not to make them feel better but to make us feel better. Maybe in some way you feel the need to forgive her, not for her but for you. Maybe by forgiving you can really and truly put this all behind and move on once and for all.

I agree with Odd Mix. You can email her and forgive her while also make it clear that you consider this closure for both of you. And that you don't want to hear from her again.

I'm not all that good at forgiveness myeslf, but I think it's a great quality for people to have. I think you are the one who has mentioned in comments on other people's blogs that not everybody is deserving of forgiveness and not everybody is worthy of your or anyone else's prayers. And that's probably true too. But, forgivness is a good thing it relives us of burdens and helps us be better people.

This has been another installment of "worthless advice guy". Thanks for playing. ;-)

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Betty said...

I think you should respond by telling her that you accept her apology, and hope she will be able to move on with her life, as you have done with yours. Then, say "Good-bye". Maybe you'll both feel better.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Gracey said...

Well, I pretty much think everyone has already said what I wanted to say. I was deeply hurt by someone two years ago and she was a close friend for four years. It was so much of a hurt that I could not have her in my life either. She knew it but never apologized for what she did because she thought in her self-righteousness that she was right and I was wrong.

I told her that she did not know the meaning of friendship and I didn't think she ever would. I cut her out and have not heard from her since. Even if she did apologize, which she will never do, I would still forgive her, but there would be no room left in my heart for her.

You see, I believe that forgiveness is when you can look at someone that wronged you and not have one feeling of revenge towards that person. We do not have to forget when we forgive; we must only give pardon to them for our hearts to fully mend.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger mrspao said...

Life is too short to go on without forgiveness. You can forgive her but you don't have to pursue any friendship with her if you choose not to. Big big hugs

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous wordgirl said...

Here's some of the best advice on that subject I've ever heard:

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die"

Gracey's right when she says that you don't have to forget to forgive. Forgiving might give her (and you) closure. It is also a really good place to say for sure that you have moved on in your life. But to continue to give her a space in your life (even if it is only to think about what a rotten person she obviously was) is still akin to giving her power over you...even in your thoughts. I say forgive her and then forget about her.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Kell said...

I don't think I can add anything else; everyone else said it so well. And I love the quote from wordgirl. That's so true.

And even though she may be sending this email for her closure rather than yours, you can use it, too. Whatever you decide it will be right for you. You have wonderful instincts to rely on.

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

Take care of yourself. That's all you can do. Those toxic friends? They will try to eat little holes in you for YEARS. Ask me how I know that. ;) You rock, chica, and you deserve friends who recognize that and don't try to exploit it.

That said, my cat woulda eaten your mouse. But I woulda been sad about it! :)

 
At 14 December, 2006, Blogger Mike Y said...

Sorry to hear about this Tink. And I do know what you're saying about some of your online friends. I'm definitely closer to some of my online friends than I am with folks I've known for years. It's a sad thing in some ways.

You're an awesome person and I feel blessed to be a friend of yours :)

 
At 14 December, 2006, Anonymous susan said...

Girl...you just blow me away with your maturity and wisdom. I know people twice your age who are just clueless.

As for this person, I get the feeling you have already forgiven her in your heart. You didn't get any sparks of anger, hurt...nothin. I realize this is against what everyone else says, but based on my experience all I can think is Don't even crack the door open! But that's just me...you have to do what your heart tells you to. I know you will do the right thing.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger Alex said...

I've had a blog entry about this same type of thing rolling around in my head for two or three days now, based on an email *I* got this week, too. Whoa.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger EE said...

*sigh* I have a friendship like this.... We had been best friends since we were 15....and a year ago I had to stop. I had felt it wasn't healthy or good or right....for several years. And finally I just stopped. And it was difficult. She just recently sent me a Christmas card and I have been so incredibly tempted to email her. To catch up, to try to rekindle....but then I think back on all the things that made me decide to not let her in my life anymore, to not want to be her fried....and I realize no. I did the right thing.

I think at some point or another everyone makes friendships that at some point they realize are toxic. You hope not to. But I think you encounter them *at some* point or another. If nothing else, you outgrow friendships occasionally. IDK...

You are an incredible, responsible, amazing person Tink. The fact that you can post about this, write about it as you have shows your maturity in the matter. And that your heart knows it did right.

*hugs*

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger Arabella said...

I second Mama Tulip and TB. I wish you the best of luck however you handle this; I've been in similar situations, and it's never easy. Good for you for moving on with your life.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger Amy said...

I have been in that situation, but each one is unique and personal and only you can decide what to do. In my case, her letter went unanswered. I didn't want to rekindle, I didn't want to reestablish a broken relationship and I didn't have the energy to explain all that was wrong to make it right. You do what brings you joy and completeness. Surround yourself with intelligent, witty, fun, happy people.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger spellconjurer said...

I was one of the "bad" friends once when I was much younger. My bestfriend from the beginning of school, thru highschool, marriages and a baby or two. We grew apart in theory, but I was a bad, bad friend. I was the first to have a family, and she didn't get that sort of responsibility to be sure. How distracting, and time consuming it is, but I didn't write to her well (she lived 10 hours away). I called her mostly when I needed support. I made bad choices in my life then, with other friends, and she always bore the brunt of the complaining. She got fed up, and was finished with me. I understood it, deserved it, but oh man do I miss her. Funny thing is, I'm not sure even to this day, having grown for 10 years since, that I could still be the sort of friend she'd need. I can't promise to meet a communication quota. I'm too scatterbrained. The kind of friend I do the best with at this point in my life, is one that can forget to contact me for weeks, and neither of us mind! Scatterbrains are forgiving of other scatterbrains I guess. I will always love her. I will always wish her the very best. But I know she's better off without me. I will always treasure the day I sprayed her entire face with breast milk on accident.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger The Knit Wit said...

I reciently went through the same thing just a few months ago. 9+ years of friendship and I knew it was just... pointless. We forced it along out of habit. When I finally decided to end it she barraged me with e-mails, trying to guilt her way back into my life. I stayed strong and she finally took the hint. And I'm happier for it.

All I can say is this: You aren't responsible for the happiness of anyone except yourself. If, in your heart, you feel that breaking ties was the best thing for you then don't stress yourself worrying about what the best thing is for her.

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger graymama said...

My internet friends know more about me than my "real life" friends, with only a few exceptions.

I have been the person writing the apology and the receiver of the apology.
I bet it felt good for her just to write it. It is okay not to answer, if you don't want to. If you do decide to respond, I think a thank you is all that is necessary. No need to foster false hopes.

{{{{tink}}}}

 
At 15 December, 2006, Blogger FA said...

While way to late to actually matter, I would at least respond-- politely but curtly. Even though she was no "real friend" she made an effort. That's more than you can say for a lot of folks.

 

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