We were close friends. We hung out on the weekends and sometimes ate dinner at each others houses on weeknights. We borrowed things from each other and shared secrets. But one day, she betrayed me. She did me a “favor” that I never asked for and then asked for the moon in return. But I couldn’t give her the moon, I couldn’t even give her a single star from the sky, and that’s when the bad-mouthing began…
Sounds like this happened in middle school, doesn’t it? Sadly, it happened 6 months ago this Sunday and my heart is still broken. We are in our 40’s, much too grown to go through this sort of childish behavior. For 6 months I’ve been agonizing over it, mourning the loss of a friend. Well, someone I thought was my friend, but friends don’t do those things to each other.
Because we ran in the same circle, I began to decline invitations to functions I knew she would be attending. It even got back to me that she spent the evening saying awful things about my husband and I (after having a few too many) at a dinner party we were not present for. That was when I washed my hands of it. I deleted her contact information from my phone, unfriended, and blocked her on Facebook. I thought that would be the end of it.
Running into her was ineveitable. Our town is too small and our circle is too wide for it not to happen. I was at an event, mingling with our mutual friends when she walked in the door. I stealthily moved to a quiet corner of the room. I was not emotionally prepared to face her. As the evening progressed and the drinks were poured, I was able to keep an eye on her whereabouts periodically, but was also able to enjoy myself. As the lights came up and the clocks struck midnight, there was a steady shuffle of feet through the exit. I was hugging my friend good night when I felt an arm wrap around my waist. I thought it was my husband, but it was her. I felt my body freeze as every muscle stiffened. Her hot beer breath from behind my left ear whispered some slurred, half-assed apology about how she hoped we could work things out. She tried to hug me and I did not respond before she scampered away. I refused to allow the encounter to ruin my night.
At some point in all this, my husband decided to forgive her, which is unusual for him. Generally, he is grudge holder. If you give my husband shit, he will shove it down your throat. They made amends, re-friended on Facebook, and she continued to use his services at his business. But not I. Had it been a one-time occurence, I could have let it go, but her behavior continued… repeatedly.
On our way to work this morning, my husband mentioned that she stopped by his shop yesterday. He said she tried to text me and I ignored it. Well, yeah. A few das ago I got a vague text from an unkown number inviting me to lunch. Because this person made no mention of who they were and they were not saved in my contacts, I did not reply. At no point did I know it was her. I told my husband I had no interest in breaking bread with her ever again. I’ve cut ties. They cannot be reknotted. Never the philosophical one, he looked at me and said, “You know, Samuel Clemens once said, ‘Forgiveness is the scent a flower releases when it’s crushed by a dirty boot.'” I told him I was an awesome forgiver, but a terrible forgetter.
I looked up the quote as soon as I got in my office, and he had only slightly butchered it, but the sentiment was the same. I knew he wanted the whole situation behind us and was hoping things could go back to the way they were 6 months ago, but I just can’t do it. Maybe when I was in middle school I gauged my self worth on the amount of friends I had, but now, in my 40’s, I would rather have a few true friends, than many so-called friends that would stab me in the back with my own knife.
I’ve pondered on the situation all day, trying to make sense of this whole mess and you know what I came up with? My husband was right, a Samuel Clemens quote is definitely in order. But not the one he used. I prefer…
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”