Dropped on Facebook.
Blasted via email with a shotgun scatter of insults and reprimands.
Friendship can be such a fleeting thing.
It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people and the only thing is to face it.
~ William Somerset Maugham
But she never saw it coming between the two of us.
We became friends at the ballpark. We spent many a night shutting down the beer gardens, hanging out in the parking lot til the wee hours of the morning.
She helped when I was short on cash. She rushed to my aid at the very hint that was something was wrong with my dog.
She was a good friend.
We made the very calculable mistake, however, of entering into business together — she a landlord, I the tenant.
What, I wondered, will happen when something arises where we don’t agree as landlord and tenant? We’ll work through it, she said.
But no. That’s not how the story progresses.
Instead, it ends rather abruptly with harsh words never to be taken back.
Never to be forgotten.
For once things are said, they are out there … hovering like a black cloud over our heads.
Here is my confession:
I am flawed.
I am set in my ways.
I am stubborn.
And I don’t always communicate in the most effective way possible. (Yes, yes, I see the irony as a writer and as a member of the communications industry.)
I don’t always handle some situations in the most sensitive manner possible.
My friend knew these things.
And of course, I’d already set in my mind the idea that I wanted to move farther out of the city. I told her this in the middle of a laundry issue.
I was hit with ‘after all I’ve done for you and your dog …’
I hadn’t been aware our friendship was based on a give-one-take-one basis. I didn’t know we were supposed to be keeping track of our acts of friendship to be held over each others’ heads.
I was disappointed.
And then it came. She hit me with every negative thing she thought about me, told me exactly how I’ve been a horrible friend after all these years.
The trouble is, when people think they’re holding a mirror up to someone else, they never want to have it turned back around.
But this is a woman who criticized what I wore the day I was leaving to visit my new boyfriend.
She criticized my choice of dog food, even though I was feeding my dog exactly what she had told me to buy.
She criticized how poorly my dog behaves, when every other person who meets him tells me how gentle and friendly and awesome he is. And as you well know, a dog’s behaviour is a reflection of the owner so she was, in effect, criticizing me … again.
She criticized and criticized and criticized.
Never constructively. Never compassionately.
She just hit me with her words.
Time and time again. While I listened to her complain about how unruly her child is, while I listened to her complain about her husband and how she wished him dead, because that would make her a very wealthy woman.
I never reacted. I absorbed the shots one by one, as I’ve become accustomed by a lifetime of bylines and editors and poor choices in boyfriends.
I told her I wasn’t interested in a game of attack and defend. I only told her since meeting my new boyfriend, I’ve learned I want to be around people who complement (and compliment) me, who build me up instead of tear me down and who bring a positive vibe to my life.
She responded with a simple ‘hahahaha’ and I chose not to respond.
I knew by her response she had no idea the negative effect she can have.
I knew by her response she never truly hears the words that often come out of her mouth.
And I knew by her response there was no point in trying any further.
All I can ever do in these situations is learn.
Learn that there are two sides to every mirror.
Learn better to communicate my needs in a relationship.
Learn to be a better person.
A better friend.