I groaned awake as my phone buzzed, undoubtedly either from the bridesmaid group chat for an upcoming wedding I was a part of or the group chat with Cal and two other friends that I was also involved in. Unsurprisingly it was pictures of a giant bird from Cal. At 8:00 in the GD AM.
I ignored it but then couldn’t fall back asleep so I opened my emails and all of a sudden my breath hitched at the one that had been received 13 hours earlier.
To: [My name]
My best friend and I hadn’t seen each other in half a year. Well, half of a year and four days. Since her wedding, to be precise. I had spent the subsequent months trying to get in touch with her, hang out with her, talk to her, pretty much anything. To no avail. It took her father telling me that she was apparently very angry with me to even realise that me giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that she was just busy being married was extremely misguided.
In a couple of hasty text messages I had relayed what her father had said (at his request that I do so) and she had denied being angry, only mentioning that their had been “tension” between myself and the other bridesmaids, but that she was extremely busy with her married and post-doctoral life, but that she would come and talk to me about it in person soon. I still have yet to actually be in her presence.
When I was offered a new job outside of London I told her as much and after two hours without a reply I angrily texted, I can’t apologise if I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, which is when things really went south.
I don’t want an apology, she had begun. I just need to figure out how I feel.
It was starting to sound oddly similar to a breakup, so instead of pushing things and demanding that she explain what that meant I simply replied, You know that I love you and will always be here for you. I’ll give you as much time as you need x
Two MONTHS later…
I want to start with saying that I’m not looking for an apology of any kind. If anything I owe you an apology for not saying all of this to you sooner. I have been feeling like I owe you an explanation for why I have been so distant, and I really wanted to get this to you before your party (to try and explain why I wasn’t going to be there) but I haven’t had the time that I needed to sit down and really synthesize what I’ve been wanting to say until now. I still haven’t figured out the best way to explain how I’m feeling, but I’m going to try my best…
I closed out the email. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of drama before caffeine. Trying to will myself to sleep was entirely misguided and unrealistic, so eventually I just opened the email again.
I don’t want this to seem like it’s coming out of left field, but I have a feeling you already know that things are very different between us. The events surrounding my wedding were really the catalyst that brought a lot of feelings that I have been having about our friendship to a head. Basically, I’ve been feeling frustrated for a long time because I feel like there has been a lot of time and space between the friendship we had back in sixth form/early uni and the friendship we have now, but I feel like you have been trying to keep the friendship as it was back then, instead of facing the reality of where we are today.
It was at this point that I knew that I probably wouldn’t like what was coming next. I honestly have never viewed the nature of our relationship to be any different than it has been for the fourteen years that we were, what I have been referring to as, “best friends”. I might be a bit elusive and flit in and out of people’s lives, and I’m more than aware that people change, especially when you’ve known people since childhood, but I’ve never once had the sense that the feelings that Charlie and I had for each other ever waned. And whilst she didn’t want this to come out of left field, what came after her, albeit eloquent, introduction was about as subtle as a shark attack.
I honestly don’t feel like we have been “best friends” for a while. We have hardly talked to each other for the last couple of years. Especially since you moved to London after uni, but even before that. Neither of us knows anything about what has been really going on in each others lives- only the snippets of dramatic stuff/gossip. Meanwhile, I feel like I have changed a lot and I don’t feel like we know each other at all.
It was here that I started to get angry. I have tried relentlessly through social media, skype, text, phone calls, etc…to maintain our relationship. I have long accepted that Charlie is an “out of sight, out of mind” type of person but, given that when we are together it seemed as if we could easily slot back into routine, I never thought much of the distance or time between our interactions. I also resent that the times that we did see each other and properly catch up has been haphazardly dismissed as “gossip” since it was just literally our life events.
Which would be totally OK… It’s fine to lose touch with people. But then when you get back in touch, it is really strange and awkward to pretend like things are exactly the same as way back when. I have changed so SO much since university, and I don’t feel like we have much in common anymore. Which would also be fine, if we were honest about that and tried to rebuild a real friendship based on shared interests… Instead there has been a lot of you saying out loud that we are “BFFs” and us both pretending that it’s true.
If I felt that this was true I would not have referred to this person as my best friend for fourteen years. I kind of don’t remember what I actually thought when I read this because I scanned over it quickly, my natural (and probably inappropriate response) to traumatic situations taking over, my emotions subsiding so that I could do the healthy thing and bury them deep inside. An emotionless shell washed over me and I hardened my reactions immediately, just taking things in as I would take in scientific data or a news article. I mostly started wishing that I had a cuppa. A strong builder’s tea would’ve helped at this point but, like a terrible workout, I persisted to the end.
So, I have been feeling awkward and strange about the difference in how we were viewing/expressing the nature of our friendship for a long time, and not really sure how to address it. Originally it wasn’t a problem that I felt needed sorting, especially since we only saw each other for a little while maybe once a year… in retrospect I was wrong about that and should have been more vocal about how I was feeling.
We have been friends for fourteen years and if this is something that has been felt for awhile she’s either the world’s best actress or completely full of shite because I never once sensed this aggressive sense of discord between us. But mostly this just made me feel like an idiot. I’ve never been given any indication that our relationship was anything but reciprocal, so it was here that I started questioning every relationship I’ve ever had with anyone.
Then the wedding happened and it made me feel like I really needed to face this issue with you. I just haven’t been sure how to say all this in a constructive way. No matter how I try and explain it, I feel like it is coming across as harsh. I think I owe it to you to tell you this, but I also don’t want to be hurtful. I am explaining this to you because I honestly don’t think you are aware of how you come across to people sometimes, and it really caused a big problem for me during the whole wedding period.
I’m not an idiot. I do not lack perception or awareness of my surroundings. I knew that some of the other bridesmaids did not like me. Some of them were downright mean to me, and most of them were judgmental at the very least. I am not saying that I’m the easiest person to become friends with in a forced situation such as this, but I did see the massive amounts of stress that Charlie was under and chose to just grit my teeth and bear it instead of burdening her with unnecessary drama. I actively took other people’s shite whilst they were bitching about me behind my back to my best friend. Oh, sorry, wait, no, my (not BF)F.
Basically, in all of the events surrounding my wedding, you managed to offend/alienate all of the women in the bridal party, including me, at some point or another. You came across as rude, bossy, and plain mean. I don’t think it is useful for me to make a laundry list of what you did to whom, but suffice it to say that I care about these women a lot and when you made them feel the way you did, it really made me mad and embarrassed. You may have a thick skin and think that your actions were no big deal, but you really left a lot of hurt feelings in your wake, and you never seemed to acknowledge it or care.
Here is where I felt things were unnecessarily hurtful, and despite her attempts at coming up with a constructive way to tell me all of this, managed to come across in the least constructive way possible. All I could think of was the film Clueless where Amber goes, “Mr. Hall, how am I suppose to respond to that?!” because, seriously, how am I suppose to respond to that? I was never once approached by anyone at the time, and whilst she may not think a laundry list would be useful for her, it sure as hell would be useful for me because I’m still left thinking ‘WhatTF did I do?!’ It is literally beyond me. Which, if it was enough to piss of an entire bridal party, is obviously a glaring red flag when it comes to who I am as a person. However, if no one will tell me what I did it leads me to believe that I am just an inherently dislikable person (which many people in the aftermath of this email have assured me is not the case…for the most part).
One of the other bridesmaids threw the bridal shower and was a complete c u next tuesday to Charlie the entire time and afterwards Charlie told me how horrible it made her feel and that she would have to seriously reconsider her relationship with this girl if she acted the same way at the wedding, at which point I said, ‘I would hate myself if I ever made you feel that way. At the same time, you can’t give this girl a friendship test she’s unaware of. That’s just not fair. You should talk to her. I would hope that you would tell me immediately if I ever did anything to offend you because there isn’t anything about myself I wouldn’t change if it was hurting you.’ <——– Those are words that came out of my face at Charlie prior to her subsequently not telling me that I was doing a novella’s worth of things that pissed her off. I had reiterated this statement many times, only going off of the vague sense that she was stressed out, but presuming it was more to do with the wedding and not with me. But alas, no. How absolutely, ridiculously stupid of me for begging my friend to tell me if I was doing anything to cause unnecessary stress in her life.
I want all of my friends to be, at least, friendly with each other. And everyone seemed to get along great except for you. Did you notice that? Did it bother you? Honestly, you didn’t seem to care if you got along with anyone. I felt like I couldn’t hang out with the whole group because there was this big rift; I could either hang out with you or them, which totally sucked. This was the one event where I wanted to just be celebrating with all my friends- not feeling like I had to pick sides or apologize for rude behavior.
Here’s where I’ve got to disagree. I don’t give a baker’s fuck what my friends think about each other. Most of them like each other, luckily, because I obviously have superb taste in people, but I especially did not feel like it was my job to become best friends with these people given the ice cold reception I received from most of them upon meeting them prior to the wedding. Perhaps my insistence and Charlie’s refusal to deny that we were “best friends” was threatening, but I’m sorry, have any of them known her for 14 years? As Kevin McAllister would say, “I don’t think so.” Still, I put on the best I could and clearly am not made for a career in acting if I came off as a complete bitch. Clearly all of them knew her in a different capacity to me, which is why I tried not to shove it down anyones neck’s that her and I were, up until the actual day she got married, in a “civil union” relationship on Facebook. Yeah, we were FACEBOOK OFFICIAL.
To quickly answer her questions:
Did you notice that? Nope.
Did it bother you? Double nope. Can’t be bothered by something you’re unaware of.
Honestly, you didn’t seem to care if you got along with anyone. Uhhhh, I felt like I was getting along with people. I really, really did. I thought people liked me. Apparently not! Maybe I just don’t play well with others? But in general, no, I don’t care if people don’t like me. I care what my best friend thinks, something I reiterated multiple times, but given that it took over half of a year for anyone to make me aware of this I can’t even remember or pinpoint what I could’ve possibly said to insult everyone on such a massive scale.
So after all that I felt like I needed a break from you and I felt like our friendship needed a big reality check. I don’t know what else to say. I’m not looking for you to explain yourself or for an apology. I only hope this helps you understand why our relationship has been so strained. I couldn’t bring myself to come to your party and keep pretending that everything is fine, and I also didn’t want your party to turn into anything dramatic.
I’m no relationship expert, but that sounds like a breakup line. Which is the exact opposite of how I thought our friendship would end. I suppose it beats my assumption that it would end with one of our deaths. But then also made me really sad at the prospect of spending the rest of my seemingly sad and delusional life alone, without my “best friend”. I can no longer use that term without quotations it would seem.
I hope this helps you understand what I’ve been feeling and I wish you the best of luck.
It doesn’t. And I deeply resent being broken up with and then having it signed off like a business email. I also am aggressively annoyed that this entire six month debacle was concluded with an email. A fourteen year relationship was ended with an EMAIL? AN EMAIL. This is about as insulting as when Carrie Bradshaw was broken up with on a post-it note. “There’s a way to breakup with someone – and it ISN’T ON A POST-IT(/EMAIL)!”
BEST?! BEST. BEST!!!!! ALLLLLLLLL MY BEST AS WELL.
I mean that, though. I wish her the very best. Because despite what she said, she’s the one who asked me to be in her wedding, to make a speech, who despite her words, has always been my favourite person in the world, and there still isn’t anything I wouldn’t change about myself to be the kind of person that she would want to be friends with. Unfortunately she doesn’t want to explain what it is that would make her like me again so all I can do is throw a petulant tantrum and make shitty comments about her email anonymously online, which could be the very thing she doesn’t like about me, but I guess I’ll never know.
Ironically as I took a break from reading the email I realised that those little shits in One Direction had dropped their new single and it was ironically tragic and pertained to my situation.
How many nights does it take to count the stars?
That’s the time it would take to fix my heart
Oh, baby, I was there for you
All I ever wanted was the truth, yeah, yeah
How many nights have you wished someone would stay?
Lie awake only hoping they’re okay
I never counted all of mine
If I tried, I know it would feel like infinity
I shut off the song, trying to ignore the lyrics although instead of worrying that Charlie hated me over the past half year I’ve just been hoping that she’s okay. If I think of how long it will take me to get over losing my best friend I think “infinity” is probably apt. Moving on is doable, but getting over it is probably impossible. Somehow the steel reserve of my emotions kept me at bay and I managed not to completely lose it. I picked up my phone and saw a text from Cal.
You okay over there?
Oddly enough it was his genuine concern (I had forwarded him the email, as he was just as dumbfounded over the situation as I was) that almost did me in. We’re well past our 40 Days of Friendship project (in its final touches of editing, to be published soon), but the fact that I’ve neglected friends in lieu of desperately trying to cling to my best friend, as Charlie made it sound, made me sadder than anything else. I have so many people that would drop anything to come to my aid when I need them, and I realised that Charlie was right in that I have ignored that she hasn’t been that kind of friend for a very long time. Love is blinding and I won’t deny that I loved my friend very deeply in a completely platonic way, but in a way that was certainly different to other friendships. But the other friends are the ones that are always there to pick up the pieces, to accept my mistakes, to listen, to explain when I’ve done something that upsets them, essentially to not ignore me or drop me when things get rough. Things that Charlie has clearly been unwilling to do for who knows how long. Charlie and I use to joke that we’ve never had a fight but that when we did that it would be a big one. It was literally a joke to us and yet the first fight we’ve ever had has completely destroyed our relationship.
Breakups with boyfriends have always been situational for me. Timing, location, something that you can pinpoint. I don’t think that I’ve ever had someone say that they had no interest in hearing my side of things, that it wouldn’t even matter what I said and that they inherently just did not like who I was as a person. Luckily I’ve had friends around me (some of whom experienced this whole wedding debacle along with me, who were even at the wedding) who have assured me that I am the kind of person that they always want to know. However, a very dark side of me can’t help but wonder if I can’t even keep my best friend around for more than fourteen years what kind of hope do I have with an actual partner?
I haven’t bothered responding to the email. If I can wait six months for an explanation, she can wait a couple of weeks for a reply. Or maybe I just won’t reply. I don’t see where a response would change anything. This is how things have been for awhile, close-ended. Invitations refused without any suggestion of another time. I don’t think I can take any more rejection at this point from her, so I feel that it’s probably best to just give her time and if she comes around in a year, or two, or twenty, I’ll always be here because despite her making it seem as if I am some kind of delusional stalker who has invented this relationship in my mind, my memories don’t deceive me, nor do our many mutual friends who remember a recent past in which our names were said as one in the same breath because we were always together.
Anyway, stiff upper lip and all that. As Paul Simon said, “I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; and an island never cries.”