The workday was hot and long, the evening relaxing, while my best friend and I were enjoying a mouth-watering piece of banana cream pie. Suddenly, almost as fast as my whipped cream was melting, in the midst of conversation, my friend Karen said, “I wish I could take this piece of pie and smear it right into your face now.” Then she chuckled.
I was aghast. Nothing I’d done could have precipitated or warranted such a comment.
Karen and I had a long friendship, and spent many hours together. We worked together, spent breaks and lunches together. We rented our first apartments together. We played on an after-work softball team together and even spent Saturdays shopping together. Throughout our time we laughed our asses off, but there were times when Karen would ‘go off’, as I put it.
Concurrently, I was in a solid, great relationship with my boyfriend and Karen’s was never going very well. Others’ told me she was jealous, but that didn’t help resolve the hurt I experienced from her at the most unexpected times. Additionally, it didn’t excuse her behavior.
Often there are different reactions one takes to a girlfriend displaying unexpected, hurtful comments. You have options. First, however, you have to evaluate what the friendship means to you; in a best case scenario, you would be able to discuss your friend’s inappropriate behavior or comments with her, and she would change it. But, let’s face it. Going into the conversation, you already know the person is capable of this type of behavior and whether she changes it for you and your friendship depends, sometimes, on conditions out of your control. It just may be who she is. She just may be a mean girl. Your commitment, at that point of realization, is to yourself.
Second, it’s not up to you to apologize for your life going well or to tolerate having others knock you down for it because they are having work or relationship difficulties. Solid, healthy, two-way friendships don’t work like that.
Ultimately, you want a friend to be there, as you will too, in the ebb and flow of life; the ups and downs. It’s not to say everyone must be perfect. Perhaps there were times you forget her birthday or, due to your own issues, you couldn’t be there for your friend. But solid friendships stand the test of time and they provide mutual benefits.
Sometimes you have to evaluate if the friendship is worth the downside, if the issues with your friend are too unhealthy for you to continue with it.
In the case of Karen, over our six year friendship, her negative behaviors built up in my heart and mind.
I never overreacted at the time they occurred, but I also never forgot them. Like the time I bought her a Christmas gift and she went the next day to buy me Christmas knickknacks at a half off, after-Christmas sale. If you consider it’s the thought that counts, it wasn’t a very nice thought.
It was her constant reminder in front of others, purposely to hurt me, that her long-ago friend, Julie, was her best friend (who was barely in Karen’s life) when everyone knew she spent about 95% of her free time with me. It was when she repeatedly called me naïve because, honestly in my early twenties, I had a pure heart and innocence about me.
There were the times she would talk about her past dating like it was the most exciting thing in the world, and, years later looking back, I think it influenced me to break up with my boyfriend to have more exciting times. And when I did, she wasn’t there for me. “You keep talking about him”, she said as I was in an emotional quandary whether to get back together with him or not. And when she got engaged (they later divorced) to her boyfriend, she purposely made me wait until the very last minute to ask me to stand up in the wedding party. By the time she asked me, the friendship was almost beyond repair, and it was not a pleasant memory as I was crying from her purposeful delay.
It was numerous events, added up, over time of my taking her unfavorable, unwarranted and unjustified behavior, in which that I grew strong enough to have had enough. Sure, we had many great times too, of which I knew I’d never forget or regret; but the other aspect to her personality was too much. I decided to keep my distance and move on. One day, following my decision, she arrived at my apartment door. I opened it and she said, “F@uck you!” Even then, I felt badly for her and invited her to come in. I realized she was hurting even though she had a pretty awful way of expressing it. I allowed her into my life again for a short time thereafter, but the friendship dissolved completely after that.
Did I miss her? Yes, for quite a few years. But I’d still had enough and had no desire to be friends again. Even now, there isn’t a girlfriend in my life with whom I enjoy shopping excursions with as much as Karen. Over the years, I’ve grown to realize girlfriends can be for different purposes; one may not fill every need. I can tell secrets to one; shop with another; commiserate about work with yet another. I’ve yet to feel I have a best friend since Karen, but truthfully, she wasn’t what a best friend should be. In my youth I thought so, but over time I did learn that the best girlfriends are not those who hurt you. And what I also learned is: when a female I’m thinking who might be a friend, suddenly turns to ‘the dark side’…and yes, I’ve seen it happen now twice since Karen with other potential friends early in the ‘friendship’…I’m a lot quicker at realizing this is not the type of person I wish to have in my life. And I don’t.