Recently, I found a bunch of music CDs I burned off the hard drive of my old computer so I’ve been adding them slowing to my iTunes to jazz up my music library. When listening to those songs, I came across some stuff from this band called Laptop. I hadn’t heard this album in a long time and it reminded me of a friend I used to have.
Basically, me and this girl grew up together. Because our families were friends, we hung out all the time and we were friends. Unfortunately, it was kind of like we were friends with an asterisk because our friendship was really dysfunctional.
1. She pretty much bullied me into doing what she wanted a lot of the time. On my birthday, we’d go to restaraunts she wanted to go to. When we went to the movies, we’d see stuff she wanted to see. When we hung out at all, it had to be where she wanted to hang out when she wanted to hang out, otherwise we wouldn’t hang out at all. It was her way or the highway.
2. She kind of set up these roles for us in which she was the smart academic one and I was the ditzy creative one and they were never to be changed. If I did well on a test or an assignment, she didn’t want to hear about it.
3. The only time she really had any use for me was when I was in a crisis, and even then, if my crisis didn’t wrap itself up quickly enough, she would get bored and either harangue me about it or hang up on me altogether.
We had been “friends” for about 20 years when Boy and I got together. About two years in, he and I started discussing the hypotheticals of getting married. When I e-mailed her about this, I received no response. It was only months later that I received a rage filled e-mail from her, laundry listing everything she felt I had ever done wrong in the two decades and change we had been friends. I hadn’t supported her enough. I hadn’t made enough of an effort to come visit her at school. I had bragged about my own scholastic achievements. I had messed up the name of her new boyfriend one time. Any nasty thing she had ever thought about me was there in black and white. She then concluded the e-mail by telling me we could no longer be friends if I was going to be “a boring old suburban housewife” and that I “wasn’t the kind of person who deserved an amazing friend like (her) anyway.”
At the time, I was really devastated by this and spent the next two days slipping in and out of crying jags. I couldn’t believe I had lost the person I considered my best friend.
Looking back on it now, I have a little more clarity about the situation. Was it all her fault the friendship ended? No. I could have (and really should have) said something and stuck up for myself over the years we were friends. Instead, I accepted the dysfunctional dynamic as okay and things went too far. Would I want to be friends again? Hell no. In spite of my not blaming her for the end of the friendship (I know I had some lacklustre moments myself because no one in a friendship is perfect), I also came to realize that being friends with someone who is actively pissed off by your being happy is MESSED UP.
At this point, it’s been about four years since we last spoke. I e-mailed her about a month before I got married and said I hope she was doing well, but never received a response. I don’t think I would have wanted one anyway.
We all have to learn to deal with a failed friendship at some point and this was one of mine. It was a painful experience, but I got through it and I feel smarter and more prepared to deal with people in the future. Being a friend doesn’t mean being spineless, it doesn’t mean keeping secrets from the other person and it definitely doesn’t mean trying to make the other person feel like crap.
So, on that note, here is the Laptop song. May you have a chuckle over it (it’s called “I’m So Happy You Failed” and it’s actually pretty funny) and then do everything you can to be the opposite of this person in real life.