Friendships – female ones in particular – are a tough nut to crack. It seems like everyone I meet has a story about a female friendship gone bad – and the scars can take years to heal. I know I have my own wounds from a lost friendship that I’m still licking.
That’s what Missy from Literal Mom is writing about today: the lessons we learn from lost friendships, and the ways that those lost friendships can affect us forever. As with everysinglepost in this series, I think you’ll find something that resonates with you here.
I can’t get a read on you.”
Someone said this to me recently.
And at first I thought, “Well, why would you want to?”
Why should it matter to someone that they get a “read” on me?
But for some people that’s important, feeling like they “know” who they’re talking to.
For me, not so much. And here’s why.
Like most adult women, I’ve been burned by a friendship.
Just one, but it was enough to ensure that most people won’t get a “read” on me anymore.
Let’s call her Kathy.
Kathy and I hit it off right away. She was so nice. Attentive. Really interested in all of the things I shared with her. I felt so HEARD. I had a very young baby and as many of us know, that’s a time in our lives when we can feel lonely and isolated. And it was especially so more than 10 years ago when I’d never heard of blogging and Facebook didn’t exist.
Kathy made me feel special. Like the things I said mattered. For some reason, I’ve always gravitated to male friendships, so to have a female (not my mother) who wanted to listen to me and gave me such positive feedback? Was wonderful.
The friendship went on like this for a long time. I really opened up to her. I told her about husband frustrations (Everywoman frustrations, I now understand), my concerns about certain behaviors in my child, my relationship with my mother, things about my past. I told her about the night I accidentally drank too much and how I didn’t want to do that with young children in the house anymore. I gossiped with her about people she knew and I didn’t. I took her word for the likeability of many people in our neighborhood.
In short, she was a perfect friend.
Until she wasn’t.
Until we would meet for playgroup and my child would cry over something that happened and she would call across the room and say, “Oh, is this what you were worried about? I’d be worried too.”
Until she told someone that my child “had issues” while we were discussing raising kids.
Until she would volunteer to other people my frustrations with my husband, saying things like, “Missy should understand this since you and your husband are going through issues, too, right?”
Until she saw me with a glass of wine in my hand at a party and said in front of many, “Are you sure you want that glass of wine? I doubt you want people to think you have a drinking problem, especially after what happened last week.”
And on and on and on.
Until I’d finally had enough of being her doormat. Until I finally saw what she was doing. Taking normal situations in life and exploiting them, making them look like something more than what they were. All to make herself look better? To make me look bad?
That I can’t answer. Because I got out of the relationship.
Without drama. Without fuss. I just quietly slipped away over the course of several months. I lost a lot of mutual friends in the process because it looked from the outside that I was removing myself from all of my friendships.
But I wasn’t. I just needed to protect myself and my family. I’ve heard, recently, that she’s talked about me. Saying I “abandoned” her. After I did so much for her and was such a good friend, I just abandoned her.
And I suppose I did. But my life is my life. Not someone else’s to manipulate, judge and exploit.
The cost has been relatively high. I keep my family first and don’t put any friendship above it. No matter what. And that part’s good.
But that also means I don’t allow myself to get close to people either. Which can be not so good. Women need relationships. Women need connections. Women need support.
And having been burned, I’m afraid to reach out. To the woman who can’t get a “read” on me?
But that’s just the way it is.
Missy Bedell blogs at Literal Mom, where she encourages parents to be thinking parents, using wit, humor and sometimes tears to communicate. She just switched to WordPress and is getting to know that platform. Visit her and let her know what you think of her new home. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.