Sunday, May 20, 2007


Well, I did it. I ended my friendship with Y. I tried to follow my sister’s plan of action—simply not allowing Y to take up time in my life until she figured out that I no longer wanted to be friends with her. Y sent a few e-mails. I responded with short, neutral replies. But something about that didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t seem fair or honest. Then she called me one night about a week and a half ago. The call went to voicemail (thank heavens!), but in her message she requested that I e-mail her and tell her when a good time to talk on the phone would be.

It pissed me off that she seemed to feel entitled to my time like that, but it also brought up a feeling of dread. My stomach clenched up and my heart raced. I lay awake for at least three hours that night feeling all conflicted. I knew there was no way I wanted to be in the grip of this amalgam of dread/pressure/guilt/deceit/annoyance over our relationship. I was going to have to do something decisive to end it ASAP.

I’m sure many people would argue that I should have called her and talked to her in person, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to have a “discussion” about it; I didn’t want to hear her "side of the story." After all these years of waffling and trying to cut her slack, something—I’m not sure exactly what—had brought me to the place where I was 100% certain I wanted out and that I couldn't delay it any longer.

I lay there that night anxiously mulling over how to break the news to her (I felt I at least owed her that) but leave no doubt that our friendship was over.

I sent her a short e-mail. I told her we have fundamentally different approaches to life, and I just can’t genuinely provide her with the support she wants from me. I told her I’d felt this way for some time, but had tried to ignore it. I also told her that, though I wished her well, our friendship has run its course. And I told her to please not call or e-mail me. And she hasn’t so far.

I feel relieved to have done it, but I also feel pretty shitty. Isn’t it cowardly to break off a friendship (a friendship of 18 to 20 years) via e-mail? And was it fair to tell her not to call or e-mail me? Was I too harsh? There’s no answer to those questions. But I do know that the mere thought of speaking to her or even seeing another e-mail from her in my In Box caused me mental, emotional, (and physical!) stress, and so I had to do what worked for me to end it.

An unexpected effect of all this has been that I feel extra appreciative of and grateful to the good (i.e., non-soul sucking) friends I do have. The ending of the friendship with Y coincided more or less with the easing up of my insano/overwhelmo work schedule, and I realized how great it is to be able to spend time with people with whom I can relax and be myself. I don’t have to pretend around them or be on my guard and feel stressed and exhausted listening to a litany of woe, complaints, and blame laying. I did that for far too long. We all have such limited time to spend with friends; I’m actually angry that Y horked so much of it. In a way I feel like she stole from both me and my other friends.

Issues I’ve had with Y have been preying on my mind intermittently for years and rather intensely for the past month or so. It’s demonstrated to me that avoiding conflict serves no one. Maybe if I’d brought up the issues I have with her sooner, I could have preserved the friendship on some level. Probably not. We just would have stopped being friends sooner. But that would have been a good thing—at least for me—but probably for both of us. Was there some kind of codependency thing going on? Maybe that’s the wrong psychobabble term, but if it has anything to do with not stepping in and telling someone you think they’re making some bad choices then I’m guilty of that. But on the other hand, it’s not my job to run other people’s lives.

Anyway, that long, drawn-out chapter is now closed.

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