So yeah, this hasn’t been a good month for me so far. Not only were there layoffs at the company I work for, I’ve been going through a slightly messy friends break-up. It started when I wished her happy birthday and ended today when she signed off an email with “Whatever. Have a nice life.”
I don’t think that men have friends break-ups. I can’t imagine it at least. A friends break-up is something that women have the market cornered on. It’s my perception that girl friendships are totally different than guy friendships because they operate on a whole different emotional level. I can’t imagine a guy ever exclaiming “OMG! You’re my best friend ever!” Conversely, I don’t think guys have quite the same level of explosion when their friendships break up.
I also wonder if part of the pyrotechnics of girl friend break-ups comes from the false assumption that we will be friends with our friends forever. I mean, when you’re in a really good part of the story of your friendship with any given person you naturally expect that things will be this good forever and that nothing could come between you.
Many years ago, when I lived in Alabama and was going to cosmetology school, I got into a super huge argument with one of my classmates over exactly this issue. I had been fighting with my best friend, Kristine, who in school with me. When our classmate Markanna told me off for not being supportive of Kristine I explained to her that my friendship with Kristine might be temporary.
Friends come in and out of your life, I explained. They appear when you need them, and when you’ve run your course together they leave your life. Sometimes that hurts, but that’s just what happens. For any of us there are only a very, very few friends who will be there indefinitely. Those are the people like my grandmother’s best friend Nancy. Towards the end of their lives Nancy had gone deaf and my grandmother, suffering from Parkinson’s, couldn’t speak. So they would just sit on the couch together holding hands because that’s all they had left. And it was beautiful.
Markanna got so angry with my explanation! She argued up, down, and sideways that she and her best friend, Tiffany, would be friends forever, no matter what, and that if I was angry with Kristine I didn’t know what it was to be a friend at all. Granted, I was angry with Kristine over something unbelievably stupid and I was probably in the wrong. However, nine years later Kristine is still my best friend, and since she’s been dating my brother very seriously for the last four years chances are that we will be sitting on a couch together fifty years from now just holding hands. Markanna, on the other hand, slept with Tiffany’s husband. They’re not friends anymore.
Yep. Friends break-ups are something we’re all going to have to go through. I stand firmly by my statement that the majority of the friends we have in life are our best friends for only a short time and beloved acquaintances for the rest of our lives. Only a few reach the level of family, literally or figuratively. And only a few explode out of your life with fireworks so devastating that you might as well have broken up with your soul mate.
Those kinds of friends break-ups have happened to me twice. All I can say is that in both cases the friend in question and I were young and stubborn and neither of us was willing to budge an inch to see the other person’s point of view. I’m actually on friendly terms with both of those women today, although I wouldn’t say we’re close at all.
The friend who broke up with me over this past week is far, far angrier at me than I am at her. We drifted apart, that’s all. She moved away. It was hard to keep in touch. We tried and it didn’t work out. No harm, no foul. On my side, at least. I don’t know how many friends break-ups she’s had in her life because when I sent her a happy birthday email she exploded at me for losing interest in her and abandoning the friendship and being selfish and … and … and. Whew! I didn’t know what to do except say that I was sorry she was hurt and that I failed to live up to her expectations as a friend. I wished her well and suggested we start to get to know each other again as we are now. That’s when I got the earful ending with “Whatever, never mind, have a nice life.”
She’s young. We were all young once. We all once thought that friendships last forever and that it’s the end of the world when people grow apart.
Of course, here I am sounding calm as a cucumber about all of this when, in fact, I have a whole other friends situation that has me screaming on the inside. I have a friend that I am deeply afraid I’m in danger of losing. I’m terrified that I misjudged things and that she doesn’t care for me as much as I do for her. That’s happened to me before too. I really don’t want to lose this friend. Really, really, really. Just the worry over it has reduced me to tears once already.
So in a way I understand all too well how my young ex-friend of yesterday feels. We’re women. The relationships in our lives are of vital importance to how we function. We need that kind of interaction. So it’s no surprise that we lose it when we lose it. I can only do my best to reach out to the friend I’m afraid I’m losing, and once that best is done all I can do is take a deep breath and remember that friends come into our lives for a time and that sometimes they leave. But no one leaves for good. We may never see some friends again, but they will always live on in our hearts and in the wonderful memories we share.