I had a best friend of 20 years that was like a sister to me, we were incredibly close. A few years into her long-term and extremely miserable relationship with her live-in boyfriend, DeAndre, our friendship started to turn very one-sided. I looked the other way when she mistreated me because I knew how hard her home life was and I was convinced that when it really mattered she would be there for me like she used to be. Then I started dating an old friend from high school.
I’d briefly dated this old friend, Kendell, from high school though we were never exclusive, but things ended when he graduated before me and started to get a little too possessive for comfort. To keep from having bad blood between us, I told him it was a good idea for us to end our ‘relationship’ since I still had a year of high school left and he was going off to college, which was part of the reason why, but I avoided mentioning the control issues because at the time we weren’t serious, it was irritating, but since I had been friends with him I wanted to be able to keep the friendship intact. He seemed to take it well at first, but then he started getting mad if I wouldn’t drive out to Oakland to see him. He started getting so mad that he would curse at me, so I stopped talking to him altogether. Many years later, we came into contact again through social media. In those years he had fought in the war and was now stationed overseas. He never apologized for what transpired all those years before, but he would say things like he thinks of things differently than when he was in high school and some other things that I foolishly felt meant he had grown out of that strange controlling behavior. We corresponded for a couple years and when he came back to the states I decided to give it another shot with him.
It became apparent almost right away that this was a big mistake. He would argue with me over literally everything. It was alarming how vehemently stubborn he was about the most trivial things; he was very condescendingly stern when I didn’t agree with him. One time he was perturbed when I disagreed with him about whether or not it was Abraham Lincoln or George Washington that cut down the cherry tree and fessed up because he could not tell a lie. He said it was Honest Abe, I knew it was George Washington and I also knew that it wasn’t that serious, but to add humor to the moment I googled it and proved him wrong which lead to an implied ultimatum that involved him telling me that he may have to reconsider how committed I was to this relationship. Was this a dangerous statement? Probably not, but it was really strange and only one incident among many that were this uncomfortable. He took me on a trip to “Monterey” except we didn’t quite make it there, we were in Seaside/Marina which is in the Monterey Bay, and you can only see the town of Monterey from there. I was fine with the destination, but he did NOT appreciate it when he was looking for Cannery Row and I informed him that we weren’t actually in Monterey, it was up the road just a little ways. He insisted he had found Monterey and didn’t need me to tell him where it was. We got out at a beach by one of the motels facing the bay; we stood and looked at the water for a while. I got excited when I saw a seal splashing around and pointed it out, but he insisted that it wasn’t a seal, it was driftwood and he wouldn’t hear of it being a seal any longer (I didn’t know driftwood had eyes and flippers). Then there were the predatory stares. It wasn’t lovingly gazing at the person you adore; it was a cold hard unflinching stare. I’d ask him to stop because it made me uncomfortable; he would give me a slight half smile then continue staring at me. He never did anything to make me believe he was definitely dangerous, but there was also nothing about him that would make me believe he wasn’t completely capable of being dangerous either, he was so blank behind the eyes it was hard to “read” him. Those are just some very small examples of his odd behavior; we only dated for a month because I know I couldn’t stand him talking down to me for much longer than that.
Every time I told my best friend about these incidents she always seemed to have an excuse for him. She told me that I was being too picky, that I needed to accept that most men are controlling and that I would always be single if I couldn’t accept this and nothing he was doing was “that bad”. I couldn’t understand how she could possibly know how good or bad he was when she had only met him once. That’s when she told me that she had been around him a few more times because he would drop in to either her work or her boyfriends work pretty frequently to make small talk, she worked at a salon so she would give him manicures. This made me a little uncomfortable, I felt like he was checking up on me, like he was stalking me through my friends. Neither he nor she ever mentioned him visiting my friends; there were even trips he invited them on that I didn’t know about. She made a comment about how he doesn’t seem to tell me much, but she said it wasn’t that serious, her co-workers were creeped out by him, but what none of us understood was that he was a little dorky and really lonely—she said he was a “Dexter” type (from the Showtime show) that just didn’t have emotions like normal people, he was just different that’s all. After a while I stopped telling her the weird things he did because I was getting tired of her defending this guy, but at the same time I couldn’t get her voice out of my head telling me that I was overreacting to these things and this was why I was chronically single, so like an idiot I took her advice and stayed with him for a few more weeks.
After I took him to another friend of mine’s house, I could see that he made them feel uneasy too. They’d never tell me because they wanted to be supportive of who I chose to be with, but when their 4 year old came up to me and asked me to stop bringing him because he wasn’t nice and he didn’t like him, I decided it was definitely time to re-evaluate my decision to stay with him. That and he was increasingly flirting with my sister every time he came over and I could tell it was starting to make her nervous. When my best friend through a Halloween party, I think that’s when things really unraveled. We had to wait until my best friend got off work for the party to start, but all day that day he sent me text messages several times an hour asking when we were going to the party. It didn’t matter how many times I told him that she didn’t get off work until after 9pm and she would call me when it was time to come over, he STILL sent the same type of text just phrased it differently: “We should go over now, we’ll get it ready” I explained that no one was home and I didn’t have a key and if they didn’t ask us to do that than it really wasn’t any of our business. Then he’d ask “When are we going?” “Are we leaving soon?” “I think we should head over there now”….on and on and on and on. I kept saying the same thing; I won’t know the exact time we’re leaving until she calls me when she gets off work at 9, as long as we got ourselves ready it shouldn’t matter. Then he replied, “Fine. We’re just not going to go then.” I snapped and said if he didn’t want to come that was more than okay with me, but this was my best friend’s party and I told her I was going to come and I wanted to go, so I didn’t have a problem at all going without him. His reply to that was asking me again when we were going to go; I wanted to pull my hair out. So by the time we made it to the party I was nowhere near happy with him and that ended up being the last time I saw him.
We didn’t speak at all for about a week after the party, granted I didn’t try to contact him either, but when he did contact me he brought a shit storm with him. On facebook he went on about how I was avoiding him and this was not how our relationship was going to work, that I needed to step my game up if I still wanted him to be ‘my man’; to which I replied “You know what? I don’t need this shit in my life. I’m done with you.” He kept sending more messages that were full of condescension, more ultimatums and him telling me that I was too immature for him anyway. I didn’t respond to any of them, I was really completely and utterly done.
The next day I went to my best friend’s house to tell her what happened and that I never wanted to see or hear from this weirdo again, I wanted to pretend like he never existed in my life because he had really creeped me out. She started telling me about some of the strange things he had e-mailed her; I didn’t know that they had been e-mailing each other on facebook the entire time I was with him. She revealed to me an e-mail to show me one odd thing he had said to her, but what she didn’t realize was that I could see all the other e-mails they’d been exchanging. He was asking her tips on how to ‘deal’ with me and she was giving him these tips like she was some kind of authorized expert on me and my behavior. “What you have to understand about Portia is she always has to have a cause, you just have to humor her for a while, but she’ll let it go”, this was one sentence that still has me perplexed and pissed. She explained that she was just trying to help both of us out by helping us understand each other better. Against my better judgment, I let her off the hook for this and figured it was her misguided way of trying to help me. She let me vent some more and told me more weird stories she had about him.
Another week and a half went by, I still hadn’t seen or heard from this fool since breaking up with him, I was relieved to think that this was done, completely and permanently. My best friend invited me over to her apartment when she and her boyfriend got off work to watch the show Dexter, since I didn’t have Showtime. Throughout the day my friend and I exchanged texts like “Are you ready for some Dexter?!” and planned what we were going to eat. She got off work before her boyfriend so she asked me if I would give her a ride home and if I wouldn’t mind helping her run some errands first, of course I agreed to help her out. Right before it was time to leave, she sends me a text saying she had a very interesting story about my ex to tell me because he had stopped into her salon and weirded her and her co-workers out. I have to admit I was excited to hear the gossip, but I was also really creeped out by the fact that my now ex-boyfriend was still dropping into my best friend’s work.
When I picked my best friend up and started driving her to the errand she needed to run, she looked at me a little nervously and told me that my ex had also made a pit stop to her boyfriend’s work and her boyfriend invited him over; then she quickly added that the invitation just slipped out and her boyfriend felt really bad about it. I was not happy and I told her this was absolutely not ok with me.
She said, “What do you want me to do? We don’t have his number or anything!”
I replied, “I have his number still, I’ll give it to you.”
“For what?” she asked.
“So you can tell him not to come over,” I said with surprise, “I don’t ever want to look at him again, I don’t want him anywhere near me. Ever.”
She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Wow if I didn’t like someone THAT much I definitely wouldn’t have kept his number.” After making a ‘tsk’ sound she said, “I wasn’t the one who invited him over anyway and I’m tired of being in the middle of everything.”
I said, “Fine. You said DeAndre felt bad about inviting him, I’ll give him the number and he can uninvite him.” Then I reached for my cell phone.
Her eyes got wide with fear. “No don’t!” she yelled at me beggingly. Then she shrugged off her scared look, “Why can’t you just not make a big deal out of this? He’s (my ex) not that bad, he hasn’t done anything that is THAT bad that you can’t be around him even a little bit. I think he’s just really lonely.”
“I don’t give a shit if he’s lonely. That is not my problem”, I told her about my ex.
She looked at me wide-eyed, “Wow! I could never be that mean.”
I was so mad I didn’t know what to say. Why was it my responsibility to give my psychotic controlling ex-boyfriend friends? How did it make me mean that I didn’t want this creep anywhere near me and could care less how that affected him after all the bulls*** he put me through? For most of the ride home I didn’t say anything, I helped her bring the things she went to get from her co-worker’s house [from the errand I helped her run] from my car to her apartment. Then I grabbed my purse angrily and headed for the door. She intercepted. “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” began our last argument, “You should be happy I told you he was coming, I could have just surprised your ass.”
I could not believe how low she was stooping; did she even know what it meant to care about your friend at all? “Or you could have told me that DeAndre invited him over before I even got to your work to give you a ride.”
“How?! I learned about it like 5 seconds before you got here, so I pretty much learned about it at the same time you did.” She claimed. I don’t believe for a second that is true, she just wanted to use me to give her a ride to pick up the things she was getting from her co-worker and she knew I wouldn’t do it if she told me what her boyfriend did before I got there.
She told me her boyfriend didn’t have any friends and he needed my ex-boyfriend around, she wasn’t his mother so she couldn’t tell her boyfriend to leave him alone. I said that was not going to be acceptable to me, I’m not a fan of ultimatums (giving them or receiving them), but that there was absolutely no room for both me and my ex. She got mad, telling me that I should trust that they would keep me and him apart, I didn’t know all of her boyfriend’s friends (the ones she JUST claimed he didn’t have), and I needed to trust that she could keep her boyfriend in check. I told her that I did not trust she could handle this in her relationship, she lets her boyfriend walk all over her all the time, the man has absolutely zero respect for how she thinks and feels and had pretty much been showing that since the beginning [obviously there’s a much much longer story attached to this statement that I don’t have room to get into]. She couldn’t understand how I possibly couldn’t trust her enough to believe she’d keep me and my ex apart, I pointed out that she wasn’t doing a good job of it NOW, what would make me trust that she was going to do it in the future?
So now she goes into a spiel defending my creepy ex’s character, saying he wasn’t as bad as I was making him sound. She did concede that she didn’t really know because she didn’t have to deal with him on a relationship level, but she had been with a lot of guys and ALL of them were controlling and had weird quirks, that this is just how guys are and I needed to accept that. I said I didn’t agree, granted most of the guys I’d been with were nothing to write home about, but there was at least one who was a decent guy. She said in the snarkiest way possible, “Well, sweetie, you should have kept him.” I had to explain that while that relationship didn’t end bad, we were too different and realized that things weren’t going to work out [she never met this guy, she had stopped talking to me for 8 months during the time I dated him, to this day I don’t know why she suddenly stopped talking to me during this time and it was a bit of a sore spot between the two of us when we rekindled our friendship].
I said that my creepy ex didn’t know how to handle being in a relationship. I was about to say that he would have a hard time finding a girl with any sanity, but all I was able to say was, “He’s going to have a hard time finding a girl….” And was then interrupted by her laughing at me and saying, “Oh don’t worry about him honey! He’ll probably be married in a year and you’ll end up being single forever.” To say that stung was a gross understatement, she must have seen the shock and hurt on my face because she instantly filled the awkward silence with, “that’s just how I’ve noticed things go down for girls.”
Things were quiet for a bit, I was still pretty shocked that this was even happening. I wish now that I had all kinds of clever and equally snarky comebacks, but at that time I was in shock that she was talking to me like this, I’m normally pretty vocal about my opinions, but I was rendered nearly speechless. Why did I need to convince my best friend from childhood to let me be able to completely cut this guy out of my life? I said, “I’ve been friends with you since kindergarten and friends with DeAndre for over 6 years now, you guys just met him a few weeks ago.”
“So we’re just going to argue now over who’s known who the longest?” she griped back at me.
“I’m not going to want to introduce you or DeAndre to anymore boyfriends I get because now I have to be afraid that no matter how wrong things go you two are not going to allow me to leave it in the past. I don’t want to deal with dating another one of your boyfriend’s friends.” I told her. I was also referring to the fact that the reason she and her boyfriend met in the first place was because I had dated a friend of her boyfriend who was on and off with me for too long, but I had to be friendly with him despite all the dizzying back and forth games he played with me because he had been friends with her boyfriend, so I swallowed all the bulls*** to keep her and her boyfriend happy, I hated myself for it because I allowed this ex to play games with me over and over again. I was not willing to go through this again, her boyfriend made it incredibly painful for me the first time around because he would constantly throw barbs at me, he’d tell me it was all my fault his friend wasn’t interested enough in me to “keep me around”. To an already heartbroken young woman, it was bad enough that a man you have such strong feelings for doesn’t care about you, but it was even harder when the people who were supposed to be your friends were also jumping on the bandwagon. Self-esteem crushing would be an appropriate title for what she and her boyfriend did; as time went on she would also chime in every now and then. There was a time that she was conveniently looking at pictures of him and his live-in girlfriend at the time right when she was expecting me to arrive. She and DeAndre proceeded to discuss why he was with her even though she was controlling, DeAndre made sure to emphasize how in love with her he was. They then chastised me when I didn’t want to join in on them joking about her looking like Tila Tequila (“Why can’t you talk about her? Just because she’s with your ex? That’s so dumb.”-a nice little quote from DeAndre that night) I didn’t want to trash talk my ex’s girlfriend, I didn’t want to talk about her at all and I have to admit it hurt my feelings that they were being so insensitive. Trying to talk to them about how it made me feel didn’t help at all, they’d continue to tease me by saying I needed to lighten up because I was “so damn sensitive.”
“Fine. Don’t. I don’t care anymore.” She said to me in a tone that suggested she truly didn’t care and then said, “And what do you mean you don’t want to deal with dating another one of his friends again?”
I reminded her about what went on with my other ex that we were all still so chummy with, the one she didn’t seem to care at all how terribly he treated me, he was fun to be around so I needed to just get over it. To which she replied, “And that all worked out, didn’t it?!”
I’m sure it worked out beautifully for her, I kept my mouth shut to keep things neutral with her and her boyfriend and she responded by hooking this ex up with her other friends right in front of me. Should I have spoken up about this a long time ago? Yes. Should I have cut off all ties to someone who still claimed to be my best friend, but cared so little about me? You’re damn right. I can’t deny that I should have recognized how unhealthy this all was long ago; my only defense is that I was young, we had been so close for most of our lives and I did love her like she was my sister. I put up with it for too long because I was genuinely afraid of losing her in my life. This felt like blood was betraying me.
After a stand still, she agreed to uninvite my ex. Her text to him went something like this, “Portia’s freaking out about you coming over, so could you do me a favor and not come over tonight?”
He then sent me texts telling me I was being “a ass” and he did nothing to deserve this, I told him “Fuck you too” and he said “Wow. LMAO” which was the last conversation I’ll ever have with this loser.
Then my ‘best’ friend said, “There. Are you happy? Now I have to deal with DeAndre. You don’t have to live with him, I do.”
Soon after her boyfriend called and she told him that my ex was uninvited, I could hear how unhappy he was by this news. Someone that unhappy about this dude not coming over didn’t accidentally invite him. It made me wonder why she lied to me in the first place saying her boyfriend felt really bad about letting the invite slip out to my ex. She had to have known I was not going to be happy about my ex being there at all and she was attempting to save face. As weird as it is though, as time went by me and her seemed to be finding neutral ground FINALLY and we seemed to be patching things up when suddenly she turned to me and said, “Look, he’s going to be home soon and I need you to leave.”
I couldn’t believe what she just said. Like a dumbass I actually tried to convince her to let me stay, saying that her boyfriend might come around if both of us explained the situation better. Deep down I knew if she kicked me out she was crossing a line with me that she could never uncross particularly when you add up all the other things she said and did up to that point. She said no, her boyfriend doesn’t think of things that way, he doesn’t understand how to deal with people and she needed me to leave. I was irate, I said I deserved more than this and she just said fine. As I left her apartment she let out one more snide remark. What she said wasn’t cruel, it was the snarky way she said it, “Okay. It was nice for you to stop by, drive safe.”
A few days went by and I heard nothing from her, the events of that night churned in my head and made me angrier and angrier. I could see she was still talking to my creepy ex on facebook, but she wasn’t talking to me and it slowly started to dawn on me that she hadn’t respected me for quite some time and she surely wasn’t going to start now. I sent a text asking for my stuff back, she claimed to not remember the slew of books and the Six Feet Under DVDs I let her borrow when they didn’t have cable, so I reminded her and asked what day she wasn’t working so I could pick them up. She said, “You’re overreacting to this whole Kendell thing. We’re only friends with him on facebook.”
I said that was crossing the line with me and so was kicking me out when I needed her most, to which she responded “Wow. I don’t even know what to say to that.” I just asked her again when would be a good time to get my things; she said she’d bring them to me that Thursday and since she was the one that borrowed them it was up to her to bring them back. I kind of wanted to meet her to get these things back so we could talk and have some direct closure about what happened because after that week went by of not hearing from her while still talking to him, I had decided this friendship needed to be over.
That Thursday came and went, not only did I not get my things back, but I didn’t even get so much as a text telling me she couldn’t make it that day, she simply didn’t show up. I let a few more days go by before asking her again when I could get my things back, she said she would barely be home that whole week and told me a day that she could drop it off, I said no one would be home that day, but she could leave it on the porch; I still wanted to confront her face to face, but it was more important to me to get my stuff back first. That day also came and went, I checked the front door and basically the whole front yard, my belongings weren’t there, once again she had just not shown up. I told her I would pop up at her house later that week to get my things back because she flaked again and I spent a lot of money purchasing the entire Six Feet Under series, I wasn’t going to let that go. Then she sent me a text saying she brought my things to work and I could get them from the receptionist. Now, the way her salon was set up, the lobby was separate from where they work, the receptionist had to escort you through a locked door if you had an appointment, and so I couldn’t help but to think that she had left my things up there because she was specifically trying to avoid facing me.
A month went past and I had no contact with her, seeing her constantly talking to my ex on facebook was really starting to get at me, it made no sense why I had to see it when clearly our friendship was over, so I deleted her and her boyfriend from my facebook account. Later I found out from someone who knows her that she told them that’s when she knew I was serious and basically that I was pathetic for making this a facebook thing when I should have just faced her, that’s what you do when you’re grown. I found this particularly funny since she was the one who refused to see me face to face after I had repeatedly tried. She’s the type of person that will never admit she did anything wrong, she will always find a way to make herself the wronged party.
A year later after I got into my last and most serious relationship (we’re going to get married), she contacted me. She never really apologized she just said, “I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, I don’t know what was wrong with me.” I told her it was in the past, I’m not still angry about it, but I wasn’t interested in starting up our friendship again. She said, “I guess if that’s your decision, I have to accept it.”
I saw her once after that at a friend’s house, she seemed to be trying hard to remind me that we still get along. I was civil and friendly, but I was keeping my distance. Her boyfriend and my boyfriend share a lot of the same friends, so when she says anything about me it tends to get back to me quick. Over the next few months I was getting tired of hearing from everyone that she still brings my name up and that she claimed she tried to reach out and apologize to me, but I wouldn’t accept it. It was starting to irk me because it was a lie. Saying “I don’t know what was wrong with me” is a round-about way to claim some responsibility but not all, it isn’t even close to an actual apology, saying you’re sorry for something you did to someone would be. They say there are two sides to every story, but in this case she was the one solely at fault, some lines you just don’t cross and she crossed more than one of them. Telling people I just wouldn’t accept her apology was a more egregious lie to me since I literally said in the reply letter that I forgave her for what happened and had no hard feelings….in what topsy-turvy world does that mean that I just wouldn’t accept her (non)apology? Now all that hurt and anger from a year and a half ago was starting to come back and I wanted no part of that. I needed this to be in the past, so I wrote her a letter trying to explain everything to her in the most neutral way possible. I explained that it wasn’t just this one incident that led me to officially end our friendship, that it had been a long time since she’d even acted like we had a friendship. I ended the letter by telling her that a part of me would always miss her, always have a soft spot for her and thanked her for all the things she taught me about life and that if she ever did feel like apologizing to me, I would be more than willing to accept it. I ended with “remember that your actions speak louder than words and please take care”.
Her response illustrated that she still just doesn’t get it. She told me that I wasn’t the perfect friend either and that she had kept her mouth shut about the things that I did and she wasn’t going to bother bringing them up because there were too many things to remember. She said if I was a true “sister” to her I would have forgiven her and fought for our friendship and that she would never apologize because two years after the fact [it’d been a year and a half] there was no point. She said she was glad I was getting closure from what happened, but she would never get closure from this and that I shouldn’t bother writing a response either.
Against my boyfriend’s wishes and my own better judgment I did respond. I asked her what I was supposed to be fighting for and why was I the only “sister” expected to do the work in our friendship and that if she had all these things I did wrong to talk about, to just say them. I said that I wasn’t the one that walked away because I feel like she checked out of this friendship long before I did. I’m not proud that I stooped to this level and I’m not sure why her response made me so angry when it was the exact response I was expecting. There was a part of me that hoped she would take responsibility, but she was still trying to find a way to make this all my fault. Hearing the person that wronged you try to play the victim was more infuriating than I expected. I haven’t received a response and doubt that she even read mine, so I definitely won’t hold my breath for one.
This has bothered me much more than I would like to admit, but I have to admit it because it is the truth. I have forgiven her for the previous things, but I’m finding it very hard to forgive her for what she’s done afterward. I know about all the jokes she was cracking about me and my boyfriend when we first started dating, I know about all the rumors she attempted to spread about me (and was relieved when the people she told them to didn’t believe her) and I know that she suddenly started changing her tune about me when she found out my boyfriend and I were serious, I know she tried to patch things up to get a built-in ‘best friend’ for her boyfriend because she felt that would take the focus away from the fact that they are deeply unhappy together (again, my boyfriend and hers run in the same circle). The fact that she still can’t be enough of a decent person and own up to these things is what I’m having a hard time forgiving her for. In the long run this whole thing has taught me so much about life that I have to forgive her for everything. Without her selfishness I may not have learned these lessons, so I have no choice but to be appreciative of it all because it has made me a wiser person. In time I will have completely healed from this and then it will all truly be in the past.