The Friend Who Got Away

I started reading a book by this title about four years ago. I never got through it. Then I picked it up again a little over a year ago. I still couldn’t finish it, but I got a little further the second time. I don’t know if it was all the truth to the essays and the ways in which they resonated with me, or just the sadnesses that the essays chronicled. The book is a collection of essays about failed friendships between women. Of course, each friendship’s demise came about for different reasons (whether it simply ran its course, unraveled, or ended due to betrayal or hurt upon hurt), but the common theme is there: the friendships are over.

I don’t usually shy away from dealing with truth or hurt in my life. It may take me a bit to come around to it, but I eventually do. However, I think I may be holding on to quite a bit of anger over one particular failed friendship in my life.  I think this may be why I haven’t been able to bring myself to keep reading about the failed friendships of women I don’t even know.

And I think it’s time I deal with the anger and let it go.

I’m not talking about the friendships that change or end because you lose touch  over the years, due to distance or a change in priorities. I’ve learned that many friends are here for a season and then gone, and that’s OK.

These aren’t friendships that I’m angry about. I’m not even hurt over them. Yes, I do look back on them and miss those friends who are no longer in my life, but there isn’t any residual anger or hurt when I think about them.

I am angry about one friendship in particular… not about the fact that the friendship is over, or that it failed. I’m actually relieved and beyond-grateful that it is over and that this particular friend did “get away”.

This post isn’t for me to go into details about why I’m angry. But after 6 years of friendship, I was finally able to see how I allowed myself to get run roughshod over time and time again. And I think that is what makes me most angry. Why did I let myself be manipulated? Why did I allow her to impose her own agendas so selfishly without any regard for what might be important to me? And when given the opportunity to speak my mind or say how I felt, why did I clam up and avoid the conflict and confrontation?

I believe that confrontation is beneficial. I know that it can be a catalyst for growth and change, but in this situation I avoided it so wholeheartedly! And I grew so resentful for doing so. A little over two years ago, I finally realized I needed to participate and actually speak my heart and opinions. Only, it made things worse. I guess I had set a precedent by not speaking up because when I finally did, I got lambasted and treated horribly for saying anything at all. That was when I knew I had to end the friendship. I couldn’t subject myself to the  verbal and emotional abuse that was ever-present in our interactions, and I couldn’t handle the worry and strife that weighed me down.

One of the only positive things I can even see coming out of this friendship is the fact that I grew immensely as a result of it. I will never allow myself to be manipulated and abused the way I was in this friendship. I will speak up and believe that my opinions and beliefs are significant enough to be heard. I won’t wait until I grow bitter and resentful-until all my friends and family are making comments and asking “why do you let yourself be treated like that?”-to speak up.

I know we did have a lot of fun together, but at this point in my life those memories aren’t what I think about. Which is another source of some anger… Instead of the fun we had, I think about the judgement, criticism, manipulation, and lack of support that was present. I think about the eye-rolling and selfish behavior. I don’t want to think about these things anymore.

Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to think about the fun we had either. Because ending the friendship might be one of the best things I’ve ever done for my own emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Most days I wish I could just erase it all from my memory and pretend it never existed.

But I do know that I do not want to be angry anymore.