"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.