Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lesson Learned in Friendship

Back again at Mama Kat's weekly writing prompts.

Today I chose number 5:
Share something mean someone had said to you once. Why has it stuck with you after all these years?


Angela and I were inseparable. Every waking moment was spent with each other. Though we were in the same sixth grade class in our last year of elementary school, we didn't really become friends until the first day of junior high.

I was a lost puppy that first day. Attempting to become accustomed to the school layout, having eight different classes with eight different teachers, and not one of them the entire morning included scheduling me with any of my friends.

Until I walked into science class in the middle of the day with Mr. Harvey. I stopped briefly in the doorway, surveying the room. The black chalkboard, the middle-aged man with graying hair standing at the front desk, the windows perfectly aligned behind the black counter across the room, and the dark brown student desks, light glaring off the shiny surfaces.

I gazed around, praying that at least one person I knew would be in this class with me.

Then I heard it.

"Kerry!"

I snapped my head left toward the sound of my name, and there was Angela, sitting in the first row, third seat. 

"Thank God!" I exclaimed and ran over to her desk, hugging her. I sat behind her, and from that day forward, nothing could tear us apart.

We had sleepovers every weekend. I would walk to her house a few blocks away or jump on the bus when school was over to her house instead of mine. We would spend the entire weekend together watching movies, jumping on her trampoline, walking around the neighborhood, playing on her computer, practicing singing our favorite songs, and staying up late just talking the night away about boys. Until she fell asleep and took up the entire bed and I would go into the living room and sleep on the couch. Seriously, how could such a tiny person take up so much room?

We were practically attached at the hip. We attended every school function and dance together. I was given a special candle at her Sweet 16 party. We talked about how we would be friends forever, sitting in rocking chairs when we were 80 or 90, still laughing about the silly things we did as teenagers. We gave each other friendship bracelets, advice on boys, and were there for each other through thick and thin, from our first puppy loves to her parents' divorce to my house fire.

Slowly, yet somehow still suddenly, things began to change. Junior year of high school, Angela broke up with her loving boyfriend of four years and started dating a guy who was the absolute opposite and completely wrong for her. She gained some new friends, he influenced her in all the wrong ways, and she succumbed to his manipulations, taking up smoking, drinking, stealing, lying to her friends and family, and even drugs. She wasn't the same girl I knew. 

We began to drift slightly, but I thought it was just a phase she was going through, trying to deal with her parents' divorce, and she would eventually come to her senses and snap out of it. I envisioned her dumping her loser boyfriend and everything he'd influenced her to do, and coming back to her real life. I was afraid she was just going to end up hurt.

But I apparently should have been more worried for myself, instead.

Through this new boyfriend of hers, Angela also acquired some new "friends," who influenced her just as badly. We hadn't talked too often anymore. I was on the computer one evening on July 3rd, when I received an instant message from her. We exchanged greetings, and she quickly indicated her objective. 

She explained she had some new friends. A new best friend, in fact, named Stephanie. She then felt compelled to tell me:

"I feel closer with her than I ever have with you."

Ouch. Seriously?! After all we'd been through, she felt closer with some new girl she'd known for five minutes over her best friend of four years? That really stung.

After beating around the bush for a few minutes, I finally got to the point.

"What are you trying to say?" I asked her.

She replied: "I guess I'm trying to say that we're not really best friends anymore."

I tried to change her mind, but I realized there was really no point. She had made her decision.

I don't particularly remember how that conversation ended, but those words really stuck with me for a long time. Someone who I thought was my best friend, who was never supposed to hurt me, stabbed me in the heart.

Luckily, a mutual friend, Jackie, was hanging out with my uncle and me the next day at Jones Beach for 4th of July fireworks. A few minutes before we were about to leave, the phone rings. Somehow I just knew it was Angela.

"Hello?" I answer.

"Kerry?" she asks, sheepishly.

"What do you want?" I demand, clearly not holding back my anger at this point.

"Can we please talk?"

"I think you've said everything you needed to say."

She pleaded to arrange a time to talk, claiming she was so sorry, she didn't mean what she said, and she regretted it. I didn't feel like talking. I was hurt and angry. And I wanted to get her out of my mind and just enjoy my day with my uncle and Jackie. But eventually, we set up a time for that weekend. We agreed that I would come to her house Friday night and talk, and if it went well, I would stay over.

I went to the beach with my uncle and Jackie, and distracted myself with food, frisbee, and fireworks. 

Then Friday came. Jackie was at my house, because she knew of my arrangement with Angela and wanted to see how I was feeling about it. Not ten minutes before I was supposed to leave to go see her, the phone rang again. And again, I just knew it was Angela calling to cancel.

She apologized, saying that she had to spend the weekend at her dad's house, and that she was really sorry and that we'd reschedule because she really wanted to work things out with us.

I hung up the phone, and looked at Jackie. We both knew.

"She's lying," we said in unison.

Angela didn't know that Jackie was over. So, a few minutes later, Jackie called Angela like she would have any other day. She asked her what she was up to that night, and if she wanted to hang out. Angela responded with:

"Oh, nothing much. I'm hanging out with my boyfriend and my friend Stephanie and we're going to watch a movie."

I knew it.

Right then and there, I was done. She screwed me over twice, then lied about it. 

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. She said that by telling me we weren't best friends anymore she had made a mistake, and she wanted to talk about it, to apologize and make it up to me. Okay, fine. Even though it was hurtful, I understand that people make mistakes, so I agreed to see her. But she showed her intentions pretty clearly by canceling on me for her boyfriend and new best friend.

She called repeatedly after that. She tried instant messaging me apologizing, but I was too angry to forgive her. Her words, then her actions, stuck with me. In my mind, it proved to me how she really felt about our friendship.

It was difficult to "get over." A broken friendship often hurts more than a relationship break-up. Boys come and go, but friends are supposed to last forever. They're supposed to support you, love you, and be there for you no matter what.

One day, though, a long time after our friendship ended, I told her that I forgave her. She got excited, but before she got her hopes up, I told her that that didn't make us friends again. Instead, what she did changed what we were forever.

But by forgiving her, I could let it go and move on. Because to me, forgiveness is not about excusing or condoning what the person did. It's about letting go of a grudge, letting go of the anger in your heart, so it can finally heal.


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

29 comments:

  1. Yikes. Painful stuff. It took me back many years to friendships lost...I can't say I've forgiven, but before reading this, I had forgotten. And now I am seeing why I may be procrastinating on the 25 year high school reunion r.s.v.p. Good stuff to ponder. Great writing.

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    1. Thanks Kimberly. You may want to go that reunion... you never know how people turned up. Good luck. Thanks for reading.

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  2. So much honesty here, Kerry. I thought I was a jinx to friendship, with all the drama of best friend betrayals. I believe in forgiveness, but forgiveness that always nullify what had happened. We just don't hold the grudge but we just can't be like before. So now, I have very few friends and I don't have a close friend whom I can run to to pour out my heart.

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    1. I find it very hard to trust new people now. Exactly like I told Angela, what she did changed what we were forever. Even if we eventually became friends again, it would never be like we were before, and I would always be wondering when the next time was going to be when she was going to lie or hurt me again. But I chose to forgive for myself, so I could let go of the anger in my heart and move on with a happier life.

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  3. Ah, forgiveness is a very difficult thibg to truly accomplish. I'm glad you found it. Sometimes, I think I've found it and then .... I see her or talk to someone who's seen her and I know in my heart I am still trapped by my hurts. Oh, sweet forgiveness come to me.

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    1. It is very difficult to achieve. Nothing can really help except time. We cannot forgive until we are really ready. Don't force it... it will come. I hope you find your peace. Thanks for reading.

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  4. Wow. Friendships are so hard and I can't decide if friendships as a child were harder, or now as an adult. They are all rough sometimes. Your last paragraph was powerful. So true. I really needed to read that, because I have a friendship that I am letting go of, but wasn't sure what the next step was. thanks.

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    1. I'm glad you got something out of it. Thanks for reading.

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  5. Awww....that just broke my heart.

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  6. I agree - often forgiveness is as much (if not more) for the person doing the forgiving. You have to let go, because at a certain point the grudge is only hurting you.

    I had a very similar friendship break-up, but her "apology" turned out to be a trick to get me to get off the bus at a different stop to be pushed around by her and her new "tough" group of friends. We never spoke again. I found out while I was away at college that she'd cleaned up her life, but suffered a stroke due to after-effects of drug use - she was driving at the time, crashed her car and didn't survive. You were smart to forgive while you could.

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    1. Robyn, that is so sad. How cruel people can be. I hear that Angela cleaned up her life, too, and even saw her once not too long ago and she seemed to be doing much better.
      It's never too late to forgive.

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  7. It's very hard to forgive people when they hurt you. It's also very necessary if we are to move on. Great post.

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    1. Thank you. It definitely is difficult, but I agree, also very necessary.

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  8. Good for you that you were able to forgive. You are absolutely right: forgiving let's you heal and move on. It's hard to do, do worth it.

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  9. That did sound very painful -- but also sounded like a result of immaturity. Trust is a hard thing to ever gain back. Hopefully she learned that true friendship should never be taken for granted.

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    1. I think you are right about the immaturity. And yes, once trust is broken, it is nearly impossible to build up again. It needs to be earned, not just given. I hope she learned, too, and she didn't do this to anyone else.

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  10. Why would she do that to you? It's totally the worst thing in the world when somebody tries to make you think they care about you when they don't. It's like, what's the point? Why not be honest? Ugh... Girls are so fucking mean...

    stopping in from mama kat's.

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    1. I don't know. I don't think it was intentionally meant to make me think she cared when she didn't. I'm sure she was just too busy thinking about herself at the time, which isn't much better, but I don't think it was meant to be that malicious. But yes, sometimes girls are the worst. Thanks for reading.

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  11. I really appreciate how honest your post was. Like everyone is saying, forgiveness is so, so hard.

    I was bullied terribly by this girl in the 6th grade. That was like 20 years ago. And still to this day when I hear her name I think about the bullying. Intellectually I know that it's been 20 years. She must be a totally different person by now. I know I am. But emotionally I'm still like, "She's the kind of person who traps geeky kids in the boys bathroom!" I know that's a completely unhelpful place to go so I actively remind myself that I've forgiven her, it was a long time ago, and I need to let it go. But it's hard.

    I think it's even harder if it's a friend who hurts you. I'm so sorry she treated you badly and I'm glad you've forgiven her.

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    1. Kids can be so mean, girls especially. I'm sorry you had to go through that. But, she may have had her own demons to deal with, which perpetuated her cruelty. And you're right, she may be a completely different person now, and maybe she realized what she did and has changed. It is hard to forgive, but it's always better for yourself.

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  12. Wow, great post. You're definitely right, losing a best friend is far harder than losing a boyfriend/girlfriend. But learning to forgive is a great lesson to learn and I guess you can at least be thankful that she taught you that.

    It was definitely her loss.

    Thanks for visiting!!!

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    1. Thank you. I think friendship is harder to lose than a relationship because it's a different connection. You know there is a chance that a relationship won't work out, but you never feel like a friendship will end. You're supposed to be there for each other forever, and when trust is lost, it's never forgotten. Thanks for reading.

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  13. You are absolutely right about forgiveness. It was a good lesson to learn!

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  14. This is so sad! I hate it when friendships end like that. What a hurtful way to say goodbye. :(

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  15. Hi there, read your post from top to bottom.. yeah that is really really sad on your part, coz you trusted her and 4 years of wonderful friendship is no joke.. and mean and bad on her side because meaning she just doesn't care much. she was selfish. Am sorry that I am being blunt but based on it, she was indeed selfish. (in a bad way)

    and as for you, it's good that after all, you still learnt to forgive. and I believe there are always good friends out there who will forever stay and not hurt you..

    Cheers because the sunshine is all yours ;-)

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    1. Thank you, MariaAna. Unfortunately, at the time, she was indeed very selfish, and that's where the incidents stemmed from. I agree, there are definitely still good people and good friends who treasure the bond of friendship. Thanks for reading.

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  16. Ouch, what a rotten thing she did. Actually, SEVeral rotten things. You handled it so well, though. You're a very healthy person, from the sound of it!

    Thanks for linking this up with the TALU!

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  17. Wow! Not sure whether to think you're better off for having gotten over her or whether it's a commentary on just how insecure she was and she was afraid of letting go of the others thinking you would always be there when they were done with her?? Either way, that's sad, and said that it has stayed with you. I had a similar but not quite so dramatic experience. The relationship had gone one about twice as long, and our families were very close as well. Even though we sort of parted ways, we connect every now and again, and always know that if it came down to it and either "needed" the other, we'd be there for each other. [#TALU]

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  18. Wow, that's so hard. I had a similar experience in high school - my best friend of the past six years decided that I wasn't cool enough to hang out with her at school anymore. She was dating somebody on the football team and, well, I wasn't. After completely ridiculing me in her car in front of two of our other friends, I was "done." But you know, all these years later, it still hurts and I wonder what ever happened to her.
    Great post.
    TALU

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