So I have this friend. Well, I guess I should say that I HAD this friend as she has told me that we are no longer friends. This friend is the best friend I’ve ever had. She’s a great person. A really great person. She is kind, thoughtful, gentle, hard-working, loving, beautiful in and out, smart, a total clean freak/germaphobe, a great mom, selfless, and easy to get along with. She is extremely spiritually-minded and a great example of faith and Christianity in action. She has been there for me countless times in my life when no one else was.
She also has flaws. I won’t tell you what they all are as it isn’t necessary to the story, but I am intimate with her flaws. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” is one of her favorite quotes. The ironic thing is that she is sometimes very closed off to change. As long as I’ve known her (which is a long time) she resists change, especially in herself. For a long time I thought she didn’t need to change. I thought she was perfect and that I was the one with problems, but I’ve come to my senses and realized that I was bamboozled into believing this lie.
She needs to change. I need to change. Everyone needs to change.
The hard part about change is that when you do it, it effects other people. That is why marriage counseling is so totally awesome. It helps people change together! Changing together is miraculous. I have seen the most significant changes over the years but none are more important then those that my husband and I have made together.
They need friend counseling. They really do. I am embarking upon the second round of no-contact with this friend in the past ten years. It’s because we don’t know how to change together. It seems we can only change apart from one another. I don’t like it, but it is the reality of our friendship.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this friendship and how to handle it. It seems I am ill-equipped. This friend is very closed off. She doesn’t like to talk about her problems. She doesn’t like to admit her weaknesses. Sometimes I wonder if she is even aware of them.
On the other hand, I am a very self-aware person. I love to talk about myself. Talking is one of the greatest ways that I learn, second only to writing. I will share anything and everything with pretty much anyone. I struggle to contain private information.
You can see how this creates a problem in our friendship. It pretty much goes like this:
me: “I am so sick of my husband.”
her: “My husband is so fantastic.”
me: “I have been so depressed.”
her: “Let me help you with your depression.”
me: “I am so sick of being poor.”
her: “We just bought a house for $50,000 less than it is worth.”
me: “How are your kids doing?”
her: “They are perfect little angels.” (As they tear each other’s eyes out in the background.)
me: “You are going to be so house poor with that huge house.”
her: “Oh but it’s so worth it.”
her: “I am so glad you guys are happy.”
me: “We are happy.”
her: Whatever she needs to say to make sure I know she is happier.
I just couldn’t take it any more. I couldn’t play the game. I knew from past experience that she doesn’t like to be called out. I also know that when I tried to change and quit complaining/over-sharing we ended up with nothing to talk about. You can see if you have two “hers” in the same conversation it won’t get very far. I didn’t know what else to do to fix it for myself. I would be miserable every time I hung up the phone. I quit taking her calls. I quit calling her. We live in different states now but if we still lived in the same state I would have avoided her physically also.
After several months she messaged me and asked me what was up. I replied,
I have avoided you and it really isn’t cool of me but I’ve been felt it necessary for my own well-being. In one simple sentence of explanation: “It’s not you, it’s me.” I’ve missed talking to you too but the peace of mind I’ve gained has outweighed the benefits of broken companionship. I haven’t been able to pinpoint my issues exactly and I haven’t wanted to hurt you so I’ve just avoided it. Not very mature of me but it is what it is. I can’t even give you a complete explanation as, like I said, I haven’t figured it out myself. The best I can give you are two things. 1 – I feel like we have had an unequal friendship. I have shared with you too much and you’ve shared too little. 2 – I have issues with comparison/competitiveness and for some reason you put those into high gear for me and it was causing me a lot of heartache. It has been easier for me to tackle this part of me that I detest by just avoiding you. I didn’t and don’t know how to address this with you and truthfully it’s made me a lot happier to not talk to you as much. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had but our relationship is somewhat toxic for me emotionally (not because of you because of me). I feel like we lack honesty and the kind of intimacy I want from my friends and I don’t think you will be comfortable with the change it would take to make our close friendship healthy for me. I love you______. You are like a sister to me. I’ve missed you and I’ve prayed for you. I am the first to admit that I suck at relationships. I wish I was better at it, but being so far away and because they don’t make friend therapists I think this way is better for now.
I wasn’t trying to say goodbye, but I did give her the out. I was really saying I need more from you, and if you can’t give it then it’s probably better this way.
I didn’t hear back from her. I then got a message on Facebook from a total stranger telling me that I was an evil person who treated this friend so badly. How dare I hurt her when she has never done anything to hurt me?
I promptly told this extremely codependent random person to mind her own business and immediately texted this friend to let her know I had been reprimanded by so and so (later she told me it was her sister-in-law) and that I was sorry if I hurt her with my reply.
This friend in true to form fashion immediately gave me a lengthy explanation about how she wasn’t really gossiping about me (because she’s perfect, right?) and then informed me that we would probably just be better off without each other. I told her that whatever she wanted as fine. That was it. End of story.
So for the past couple of weeks I have been pondering on this end of friendship. I can’t help but feel like I am in high-school again. It feels so wrong. I feel like I should try and fix it.
I’ve decided that I did the right thing. I can’t change this friend. I can only change myself. I could try to keep living in her facade but it was just harming me and ultimately it was probably harming her too.
I needed more and she just couldn’t give it. She probably needs something from me that I just can’t give: like acceptance of her unreality for starters.
She’s a good person. I’m a good person. We just aren’t really good for each other and that’s o.k.
I’m moving forward. I believe I’ve been much clearer in stating my needs to her than she has with me. If she ever thinks that she can be what I need, she will know where to find me. I would love to be what she needs if she can start living in reality.
The one thing that I really wish I would have said to her and didn’t though is this reply to her telling me that she can’t just sit around being vulnerable and waiting for me to call her. I wish I would have told her this. Vulnerability is not your strong suit. You haven’t been the least bit vulnerable. Ever. If you ever want to be vulnerable, you know where to find me. I’m right here with my heart always hanging out for all to see.
I have had to really examine myself if what I am experiencing with this friend is jealousy. It is easy to become jealous when one person is always talking about how wonderful her life is and the other is a total realist. I don’t think that it’s jealousy. It’s just that I feel like I’ve finally grown past being the friend who is the one being helped. A friendship takes two people who are willing to admit that they need help. Maybe she never needs help. Maybe she is perfect? Or not because perfect people only exist in their own world. It is just really psychologically and emotionally trying for a person like me who throws all her flaws out to the world to be real with people who don’t seem to understand.