Sometimes it’s better to be alone

I still miss my friend. I broke things off with her almost a year ago and I still miss her sometimes. It’s hard to be friends with someone for almost 20 years and not feel a sense of loss when it ends. I have to remind myself that I ended things for a reason.

She always said that she didn’t save old messages because she thought it was holding on to bad things. But I think it was really because she didn’t want to be reminded of how poorly she behaved.

Sometimes I still read the messages when I miss her and I’m reminded of why I don’t want to go back. She was cruel and mean and said things that you just wouldn’t say to someone you cared about. She couldn’t show genuine remorse for or even true acknowledgment of what she’d done.

Brené Brown says that sometimes being a friend means that you have to tell them that what they’re doing isn’t okay and they need to get help. And I admit that I am sometimes that person. I’m not a “yes woman,” always telling you what you want to hear. I’m never mean about it. My former friend told me I “bullied” her, but I read back through the messages we exchanged to assess myself honestly and saw nothing that was bullying behavior on my part.

But sometimes I will tell you that things you’re doing are contributing to your problems, if it’s something you complain about a lot and it’s reasonably within your control to fix. If you choose not to work on them and you keep complaining about the same issues repeatedly, I get kinda frustrated.

The tough part is that is that I still believe she’s a good person underneath it all. But I also know that her hair-trigger temper is too much for me to deal with.

I’m torn between wishing she would just give me a genuine apology and wanting her to stay away from me. If I felt she was truly changing and working on becoming better and less toxic, I’d still welcome her back into my life. But that would also be to my detriment because I know it would only be a matter of time until she blew up at me again and became irrationally hateful toward me. The time between blow ups got progressively shorter over the years.

I tried to tell her what my own triggers and issues were and that I was working on them, but she took them to be accusations of her even though they weren’t. Then she used them against me to hurt me. That made me feel unsafe for having opened up to her.

For my part, I’m learning how to be a better friend. It’s tough right now because I don’t have a lot of friends and I’d really like to have some more. But I also feel like maybe I’m not ready for that yet. Much like people jump into new relationships after a break up and talk constantly about their exes, I don’t think I’m healed enough yet not to talk about her to a new friend. She’s still a shadow in my subconscious and I am having trouble letting go.

I’ve reached a point where I feel better about myself and feel like I deserve a kind friendship. I want a friend who cares enough to really listen to me and find out what matters to me. I deserve to be treated better than the way she treated me. Yet finding that is not always easy. I have trouble making new acquaintances and always have.

Few people talk about how much the break up of a long-term friendship can really mess you up. People talk a lot about toxic relationships, but not toxic friendships and how hard it can be to heal from them. Toxic friendships are just as bad as toxic relationships because in both cases, your trust is betrayed repeatedly.

I told her more about myself than I’ve told anyone else besides my husband. And I’m still hurt that she lashed out at me so much, so many times. I can’t just brush it off as things she said in the heat of anger, because it makes me wonder if those were the things she really felt about me all along. She knew exactly what my vulnerabilities were and used them to hurt me.

It also makes me feel really scared about trying to date again if and when my husband dies. It makes me appreciate more how rare it is that I can trust him completely. I don’t know if I can ever trust anyone else completely again, whether friend or lover. She really hurt me that deeply.

In the meantime, I guess I just have to focus on being the best friend I can be to the friends I do have and to really appreciate how much I can trust my husband.

If I have to be mostly alone while I heal, I also have to trust that eventually I’ll meet the right friend who won’t treat me badly. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s better than going back to the one who repeatedly hurt me and showed no remorse about it.

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