When Good Friends Go Bad

Saturday, November 26, 2005 | 0 Comments

Go here for the long version instead.

My best friend back home - we'll call her Punky because she always reminded me of Punky Brewster--- has been frustrating me. I really don't even know where to begin. Everything that is happening now is really built upon things that have happened in the past - so to truly understand it all, you'd almost need to know the whole story. But that would take too long, so I will do what I can with as little of the whole story as I can.

She came to my graduation which I was very grateful for. At my graduation Punky made a huge deal about how she missed me so much and how she was sad that she didn't have me in her life more. She made a point to say in front of everyone that now that she had come all the way down to see my home that I would have to be sure to stop and see hers the next time I came to visit the North Woods. That sounds reasonable, right? Well, yeah it would be except she was leaving out a very crucial piece of the story - every time that I go up I try to get together and every time she is either no where to be found or we actually make plans and then she never shows up or cancels. So I'm really irritated that she makes it sound like it is my fault that we don't get to see each other more often. I go up there at least 3 times a year and almost every time I try to set some time up to go see her. In the last four years I have been able to see her twice. She's always got some excuse, and I never see it being a good one.

So I tell her at my party that I always go up there for the 4th since they have such great fireworks there. So it is settled. We will get together for the 4th. I called her about two weeks before the holiday to remind her that I would be coming up. She tells me to call her the week before so that we can work out which day we can get together. I do call her the week before. Her son tells me that he will have her call me back. I wait a couple of days and call her back. No one answers this time. I call almost everyday and even try to get a hold of her once I have arrived in town - no one answers. I later found out that she went to Arizona. Now, wouldn't you know that you were going as far as Arizona some time in advance? And even if you were leaving on short notice, wouldn't it occur to you to call the friend that you had set up plans with; especially the friend that you have perpetually stood up for years?

So whatever, I let it slide, like I usually do. I told her that we would not be coming back up until Thanksgiving. She told me that she was coming to the Twin Cities to pick up her step kid and she would be able to stop and see me along the way. I made sure not to make plans that weekend. She never showed up. I got a hold of her the following week and she said that his mom ended up meeting her halfway, so she didn't make it that far down. Again, you couldn't call?

The last time that we talked she told me how she missed me so much. She was practically crying when she told me how awful she thought it was that our kids didn't even know each other. I told her that was the way that it would be because we just lived so far apart. She said that she wished that we lived closer together so that we could see each other more often. "Make sure that you call to let me know the next time that you will be in town! We have to get together!" she said.

So I called her last week to let her know that we would be in town for Thanksgiving. We set a time to get together so that I could come see her place and her kids. Since I had never been out to her new place, she was going to come into town to get us after she got done with work at noon and we would follow her out there. SSB woke up that morning with a really bad cold, so we had to run to the store for some medicine. I called her to let her know what we were doing in case we weren't back before she arrived.

"Oh, uh, my littlest is sick. She's throwing up. You guys might get sick if you come out."

"That's OK. We'll just come out for a little bit and we won't go in the house. You can just show us the barn and stuff."

"Uh, yeah, I just don't know…it's just such a mess here. I'm cleaning up puke, and another of my calves died last night. I just don't know if you want to come out."

"I do want to come out. I can just come out for a little bit-"

"Well, it's such a mess here. I had all those people over yesterday and my kid is sick and I have to do something with that calf. I'm never buying a calf from there again-"

"I don't care if the house is messy. It doesn't matter to me if things are hectic. It sounds like you could use some help. I still want to come over."

"I don't want you guys getting sick or being-"

"Is it that you don't want me coming out? Do you not want me to come out? Just say that then. Just say that you don't want me to come out there."

"Hey, I love you! I really do! And I really do want you to come and visit, but it is just not a good time right now. How long are you staying?"

"We are leaving tomorrow. I already have plans to go shopping tomorrow and tonight-"

"Come out tonight. We can get together tonight."

"I already have plans to go see my grandma tonight."

"Well, you can come out tonight. I can show you my place. It will be great-"

"I have to visit my grandma tonight."

"When do you think that you will get back? You could come over after."

"I'm not sure. Look, just give me a call tonight and we'll see if it works out."

ARGH!!! What am I going to do with her? I made my plans with her first to make certain that I could go see her. I made all my plans around going and seeing her. I can't just drop everything because she wants to change that- to stand me up again.

I did get together with her on the 4th a few years back. She had bought a three story farm house with 10 acres for practically nothing. Seriously! I think she said that she paid $15,000 for it. NO KIDDING! Sure it needed work, but it was a steal! We went out to look at the work that she had been doing on it. We sat around on the second floor with the space heater going talking about old times and all the stupid, fun stuff we did when we were young. I told her the next time that we would be up was Labor Day, and we were planning on getting together again then.

I called her the week before I was coming up. Her phone had been disconnected. I figured that she had got enough of the work done at the farm to finally move out there. So I called her parents' house.

"Oh, she moved in with her husband. It was such a beautiful wedding! Everyone was there…"

Who the hell was she talking about? I had just seen Punky two months ago. She wasn't even seeing anyone. MARRIED? And why didn't she tell me? I'm supposed to be her best friend! Her mom gave me her new phone number, but I knew that if I called her I would just go off on her; so I didn't call her - for a whole year. I was that pissed. She never tried to contact me either. She didn't tell me or invite me for a reason. And I knew what that was. And that reason meant that she had no idea who I was. So not only was I pissed, I was also very sad that even my best friend from my childhood, a person who I thought really understood me, had no clue who I was.

The following year I had an epiphany on New Year's Eve. I was tired of keeping my hurt feelings to myself and not letting people know when they had done me wrong in order to save them their feelings. Why should I keep it to myself? So they could just repeat it over and over? Screw that! I decided that I would use New Year Day to get all that unfinished bad business over with so that I could know that at least I had laid it out there. I could start the year feeling good about at least hitting those balls back into their court so that they could deal with it. So I sent out letters and emails to everyone that I had issues with. She was one of those people.

She called me as soon as she got it. She apologized for doing what she did. She said that she was afraid that I would try to talk her out of marrying the guy. I told her that if she felt that I would dislike him that badly that I would try to talk her out of it, then she must not have thought much of him herself. I told her that if I knew that she was happy with him, I would be happy for her. This is something she should have already known, because I have already had that talk with her. I also made it very clear that I was hurt that she would think that I would make a scene and try to stop their wedding. Seriously, does she even know me? I would NEVER do that!!

Then she tried to turn it around- "I am sorry. I know how it feels. I was really hurt that you never told me that you were pregnant with JD. I had to find out from Suzanne (my brother's wife) after you already had him. It really hurt me, because we were best friends and I felt that I should have been one of the first people that you told. So I know how you feel and I was wrong."

What a beautiful back-handed apology, huh? Well, this is all a little fabrication. I tried to contact her when I found out that I was pregnant. I called her house, but she never called back. She might have found out from my sister-in-law; but I myself told her only two months after I found out. I went up to visit family and was actually able to track her down and visit with her as well. I even told her that I would call her when I had him - AND I DID CALL HER!! FROM THE HOSPITAL THE DAY THAT I HAD HIM!! I have no idea where she gets this crap!

So here I am again, not telling her how I am bothered by this because I didn't want to add to the problems that she was already having. She never did call me back that night to try to get together. I don't like giving up on friends, but I'm fed up with trying. There really is only so much a person can do before they just feel like a sucker. And believe me, there is still plenty more she has done!

I know that you are thinking that she sounds awful and that you can't even understand how she was my best friend. For ten years we were tight and did almost everything together. We were there for each other through everything. We got in trouble together, too. Nothing like two weekends of reform classes to really bond two people together! ;) I mean, you just really could not ask for a better best friend. We consider each other a sister really. Which makes what she has been doing for the last fifteen years all the more difficult on me. If she had been less of a friend, I would have sloughed her off years ago. So what do you do when a really good friend starts treating you like crap; especially one that does not take well to being confronted? I guess, perhaps another email is in order. Hey! New Year's Day is almost here!

Feel like you need more info? Go here for the long version.


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Blogger nope said...

So you were tight for ten years. And after that you've been ... screwed with for fifteen years. You've spent more time trying to maintain the friendship than you've had the closeness of a real friendship. People change as they go through life, you know that. You've already sent one message explaining how you're feeling. Would it really do any good to send another? If this girl has any intelligence at all she knows damned well what she's doing. She's made her choice, really. Now you have to make yours. I once spent a good portion of my life maintaining a friendship ... and then it hit me that I was doing all the work. I stopped doing all that work and ... I never heard from my 'friend' again; without the effort I was giving, there was no friendship, not in the end. People change, times change, our lives go on and they are richer for the experience. A friendship is like any other relationship - it takes work to maintain, and now I think it's time you fired this lady, Sylvana. She's definitely not keeping up her end, and hasn't for years.

November 27, 2005 9:46 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I echo Indiaiyke's comment. Although if writing a letter helps you receive closure, then I say do it. I say cut your losses, cherish the positive memories of your friendship together, and let her go. For whatever reason, she's not willing or able to be your friend. You have every right to be angry, and I would be livid!, but just because you were close for 10 years doesn't mean you're obligated to a lifetime of frustration trying to maintain a friendship she doesn't want.

This really sucks. I feel your pain. Maybe we've all had friendships like these.

November 27, 2005 11:03 AM

Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

I admire that you use New Years to get those issues aired out. And as to this friend, well, her actions speak her true feelings, right?

November 27, 2005 4:01 PM

Blogger The Doc said...

This woman gets emotional when thinking about how much she misses you but then can't make the time to see you? She ignores you until you express your disappointments with her, and then comes back with her own? From my perspective Punky talks the talk, but can't walk the walk. Might be time to just walk away.

November 27, 2005 4:58 PM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

whatever is going on in this woman's life does NOT have to be your drama! it's OK that we don't all stay BFF with our childhood friends. people change and move on. you can, too. It's OK. explain to her that you will no longer go out of your way to see her or make plans with her. if your paths should cross, of course you'll catch up, but you will no longer rearrange your vacations and holidays to see her.

it's sad, but it happens. Obviously this woman is a source of frustration for you. and I'm sure you have plenty of friends that DON'T cause you so much grief. those are the ones that deserve your visits and attention.

so...when are you coming to atlanta? ;)

November 27, 2005 8:49 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Indiaiynke, if she put in no effort at all, I would definitely call it quits. But she does call or email me every couple of months (more often than my parents, I might add - and that chain email crap my dad sends does not count!).

Shannon, I know that I would feel really bad just letting it go without letting her know what she is doing and giving her a chance to redeem herself - so yeah, a letter would definitely help me get closure. Of course, if she chooses not to redeem herself, well then, I guess I might not have a choice but to let her go. I think that I try so hard with her because 1) she was such a good friend and 2) she has been through some really crazy shit over the last fifteen years and I'm afraid that perhaps this has led to her behavior. I feel that as a friend I should try to help her rather than just walk away.

Shamus, I really don't know why I didn't think of that before. I mean, who wants to start out a new year with all that unspoken grudgery hanging over their shoulder?

The Doc, I totally agree that she's all talk and no action. My biggest problem with this is not really that she stands me up - although that is highly annoying - but that she tries to make it out like it is my fault.

ESC, I had been planning on telling her that very thing. If she really wants to make me trust her again, she will have to put in the effort. I will no longer make plans with her. As I said, I couldn't put in the whole story because it would just take too long, but she was more than just a best friend. I think at some point after I left for college, she kinda cracked under all the craziness that was going on in her life. I'd hate to turn my back on her if she needs help, but if she's just being a bitch - well Pthhhh!
You'll be the first person I notify when I find myself going to Atlanta!! For sure!

By the way, SSB read the original draft- the pre-trimmed version, and suggested that I offer it for those that might like more background. It still does not cover EVERYTHING, but it will fill in some blanks, and is rather entertaining. Click the link at the end of the post to read it.

November 28, 2005 12:12 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

I fell out with one of my best school friends a few years ago.I think the problem can be that we move on make new friends and find we dont have as much in common with our old friends.You seem to be wanting to keep your friendship with her but she doesnt seem to want to make any effort.Maybe the most you can hope for is a keep in touch christmas card and letter.

November 28, 2005 9:59 AM

Blogger Sandy said...

I'm sorry that this friend has hurt you Sylvana. A similiar thing happen to me three years ago. Except it was three friends. I finally just walked away and haven't looked back. I thought I would miss them and you know I just don't. We just don't have anything in common anymore. They are all still in party mode. Don't get me wrong..I like to tie one on every once in awhile. Every Friday, Saturday and more, no. When you are a teenager it is one thing, when you are pushing 40, your a drunk.

I think these things happen to everybody and as I get older I expect very little from people. I have alot of people in my life but few I would really consider a 'good friend'.

To me you sound like you would be a great friend. Use it on someone who deserves it and appreciates it.

November 28, 2005 1:04 PM

Blogger sideshow bob said...

It's stories like this that make me glad I'm a crazed loner.

November 28, 2005 5:22 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Pink Lady, it would be so much easier if I thought that it was just that she didn't really want to get together. It's far more complicated than that. I know the reason that she has ditched me so much is that she has become overwhelmed with her life. Plus the anti-anxiety drugs she is on kind of make her loopy. I feel that she's in emotional trouble and as her friend it is my job to help her. But because she is so overwhelmed, she can't even figure out how to get help. It really is sad.

Sandy, you sound a lot like me. I AM a good friend and I could have more friends, but most people I find are not worth the trouble. That's why I do so much to hang onto the ones that have proven to be worth while. And even after sifting through all the possibilities that have come into my life to get those few gems, I have found that even THEY take me for granted and don't treat me as well as they should. But I have found that some can be shown the err of their ways - even it does take some time and lots of effort on my part. But in the end, we become better friends and they become better people. If gave up on everyone that became very difficult in my life, I would not have SSB right now. And that would be such a shame!

SSB, so what does that make me?

November 28, 2005 6:48 PM

Blogger Derek Knight said...

just do what I do:

"Hell with (insert name here)"

it's worked for years, no sign of stopping!

(it may help that I lack any semblance of a conscience).

November 28, 2005 11:31 PM

Blogger nope said...

Syl, I want to apologize to you for giving you advice on what to do about your friend. Your question was "what do you do when a really good friend starts treating you like crap?" - and I answered as though the emphasis was on YOU, not me. Just keep up with what you've been doing, and venting about it to release the pressure. She sounds like somebody you want to keep as a friend, come hell or high water, so do it! :)

November 29, 2005 9:02 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Derek, that's what my dad does too. Only then he spends years complaining that no one comes to visit him anymore. Of course, if they weren't visiting you in the first place are you really less off? I would say not.

Indiaiynke, don't worry. You're opinions are welcome here. It's good to get outside perspectives. I might seem determined in a preset decision but that is just me being careful about the decision that I do make. I mean, when it comes to things like this, I don't want to make any hasty decisions. I don't want you to think that I am not valuing your opinion because I might seem to disagree. I want to make sure that I have thought things through thoroughly; so I try to defend the other position. If I can't, there must not be much merit in it, right?

November 29, 2005 11:02 AM

Blogger ORF said...

good luck with this, Sylvana. I think you're friend is crazy just for saying she doesn't like SSB. I mean, he is clearly awesome.

I suspect you are right, though, about her having difficulty being around you or keeping plans with you because she probably feels horribly insecure that you know how she USED to be (i.e. so hardworking, caring, etc.) and now, when she's been through an abusive relationship and made friends with some not-so-great people. My guess is that she actually DOES care a LOT about you and she's honest about that, but when it comes down to it, she probably is also a bit embarassed by her lot in life and is afraid you'll judge her. You don't really seem like a judgemental person to me, so in that respect, she clearly doesn't know you!

December 01, 2005 10:20 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

ORF, I think you are right on the money here. But she should know that she could be living in a cardboard box and I would visit it like it were a 4BR house in the suburbs. Those things really don't matter to me. It does make me sad that she thinks that they would.

December 01, 2005 10:50 AM