Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s post comes from Michelle Peterson.
I listen to “Rolling in the Deep” and “Go Your Own Way” on repeat. I stay home on Saturday nights, curled up in a ball, watching Saturday Night Live and eating ice cream. I gaze wistfully at restaurants where we spent hours sharing our most intimate thoughts. I suffer from horrible pains in my chest. I feel nauseous. I have to gasp to keep myself from crying. I have to force myself to smile. I dream of our reuniting, Hollywood-style, with tears and apologies.
Sounds like a typical horrible breakup, doesn’t it? Well, you’re right. But this wasn’t a romantic breakup. I am happily married to an incredible man for whom I thank G-d every day. But several months ago, I suffered a friendship breakup, which was no different than the kinds of relationship implosions people experience all the time.
All my life I’ve wished for a best girlfriend. In the sixth grade, I even went so far as to buy one of those dual “best friends” necklaces, the ones that each had a pendant in the shape of half a heart that would lock together to form a full heart. I should’ve known that when the girl I gave the other half to lost hers that I was doomed to have best-friend issues. Plus, I
am insecure by nature, and it’s not easy for me to form deep bonds with people, especially girlfriends.
But that all changed when I met Claire* three years ago. We would spend Saturday mornings taking yoga classes, followed by breakfast nearby. What made Claire so special to me was that she was the only person who understood my insecurities better than my therapist. This is because, like me, she is an emotional basket case. She would listen to me go on and on about my issues at work and my troubles with my in-laws, and she always validated my feelings – something I didn’t get from people too often. I, in turn, offered Claire relationship advice. The one thing I was confident in was my marriage, so I could help her navigate her burgeoning relationship with her boyfriend. I reveled in these yoga mornings, which eventually gave way to dinner dates, because never before had any friend wanted to spend this much time with me. It sounds cheesy, but the moment I knew that Claire cared more about me than any other girlfriend was when we were at a club one night, and she offered to go into the same bathroom stall with me to make the line go faster.
But Claire wasn’t without her demons, and I experienced them first-hand one day when I accidentally made a comment that hurt her feelings and she promptly ended our friendship. While I admitted that my remark was uncalled for, and didn’t hesitate to apologize for upsetting her, the damage was done. Since then, Claire refuses to talk to me, refuses to look at me, and refuses to acknowledge that we had a wonderful friendship for three years.
It breaks my heart whenever I see her, because I wish we could put aside our differences and move on from this. But it’s evident she’s not a strong enough person to do that. As hard as it is to admit, since she does not want to work things out, I know I’m better off without her in the long run. Also, I don’t want to be friends with someone who could be so vindictive. Her behavior toward me over the past nine months far outweighs any harm I may have initially caused her.
I saw Claire at a party recently, and I tried to say hello to her. She saw me coming toward her and panicked, desperately trying to get out of my field of vision. She said hello back, but it was as if my head were that of Medusa’s and she wouldn’t look at me. Later in the evening, my husband was standing at the bar, and as soon as Claire saw him, she immediately turned around and walked in the other direction.
While I feel sorry for Claire, and I pity her inability to talk out our problems with me, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I mourn the demise of our friendship every day. The hole in my heart is still there, despite all of the love I get from my husband; his support has been vital to helping me get out of my depression, but just because Claire and I didn’t have a romantic relationship, it doesn’t mean the loss of a friend like her is any less painful.
*Name has been changed.