Sometimes it’s not all my fault

You know what? I didn’t just grow apart from my former friend. I was trying to put a nice spin on it and to behave with more class than she did. I always look at my own role in conflicts and at what I could have done differently. But I have to stop accepting all the blame so readily, too.

I hoped it would be different this time. But seeing her in person after 16 years made me realize that there were many reasons we weren’t on speaking terms when I left this area 16 years ago either.

I knew better than to trust her based on a lot of past history. I let my guard down again around someone who repeatedly proved herself to be unsafe and unhealthy for me. She knew my vulnerabilities and of course, she used them all against me.

I reread all the messages we exchanged before and during the blowup and it’s pretty clear that while I mentioned a few things I was upset about, I did so calmly, owned them as my own issues to deal with and I did not attack her. The worst thing I called her was snobby. (And since her reaction when she borrowed my diamond earrings for her recent wedding was “oh they’re so tiny!” I think the snob classification definitely still fits.)

We’ve had a long and contentious history and I’ve never had that kind of relationship with anyone else before. Anyone in my life who ever met her, from my husband to my brother-in-law, disliked her from the first meeting. In fact, my brother-in-law just mentioned her a couple years ago, like “whatever happened to…” because her rude and obnoxious attack on him for eating meat at my oldest child’s birthday party made such a memorably negative impression.

Keep in mind that neither my mom nor the maid of honor from my wedding automatically take my side when I talk about conflicts with others. And over the years, when I would I talk to them about the latest drama with this friend, they would always encourage me to stay away from her and not go back. They would ask me why I put up with someone so destructive in my life. And I honestly don’t know why I did for so long.

But ever since I moved back here, things seemed to get rapidly worse. There’s no point to rehashing any of the finer points because my goal is not to draw anyone else into the drama. I just realized that seeing her in person was actually much worse and more unpleasant than the years of communicating strictly by email.

In our last argument, by text, we agreed to take a break from the friendship. Naively, I thought it was over. I didn’t send her any more messages.

The next day, she unleashed a torrent of abuse on me, swearing at me and attacking every aspect of my character. I ignored all the messages and tried to take the high road. I didn’t even read most of the messages she sent at that time. I just skimmed and saw things like her calling me “high and mighty bitch” and that I was a “hateful and judgy Christian”, so I figured I got the gist. I sent a couple brief replies saying basically “yeah, I think this is over and I hope you get help” and she still kept sending more abusive messages.

I wrote a blog post after that, saying I was trying to be calm and to move on in a more positive direction and that we just grew apart. In response to my effort to take the high road, she sent yet another message saying I was “so fake” and “in denial” for not putting all my problems out there and lobbed a few more personal insults at me. I didn’t respond to it at all.

Trying to put a more positive spin on a difficult situation is a healthy thing, not a form of denial or fakery. Saying you grew apart from someone is a lot more mature than putting them on blast on social media.

Yet she managed to convince her acquaintances that I was the one who attacked her in all this. She’s still playing the victim role.

It’s so hard to be on the receiving end of this, to know that I can’t clear my name. But she is completely unable to see reality because she is so intent on seeing herself as the victim.

To be clear, I’m not saying that “seeing reality” means that I’m the victim either. We both said some things that weren’t helpful or kind. I think for either of us to paint ourselves as the victim is both ridiculous and inaccurate. Even if one person is attacking the other, it still takes two people to fight.

I’m not going into detail trashing her to my friends the way she did to me. Nobody’s reading this anyway so I’m just trying to process some of the high-level points.

Trying to turn people against the person you’re mad at when they don’t even know them, just to make yourself feel more justified, is manipulative and kinda sad. Especially because it’s seeking sympathy for what is essentially a lie.

I’m still trying to take the high road and saying we just shouldn’t be friends anymore. That the friendship was realistically over many years ago. I’ll even say that I have my own issues to work on, just as she does.

But I am not accepting 100 percent of the blame anymore. That’s not honest or fair and I finally at least have enough self-respect to walk away from her. She is essentially a high school mean girl who never outgrew it.

I’m also dealing with the fact that my MS has turned progressive and I’m not getting better, and the last thing I need in my life is that kind of drama. It takes real effort to stay positive with this illness, and I can’t risk being around someone who consistently makes me feel worse. I can’t be friends with someone who likes to talk about our illnesses all the time because that makes it harder to stay well.

My other friendships are calm. We don’t spend all our time discussing every problem we face. And I need that calmness so I can try to stay healthy.

But make no mistake: it was completely my fault that I went back for more. Some people don’t change and I had every reason to know better. Some people create too much drama and it’s not only okay but good to walk away. Sometimes the past just needs to stay in the past.

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