Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Toy Chest Coffin

Okay, I am going to write about this and be done with it because there is literally nothing I can do about it and I need to move on. A friend of mine just apparently broke up with me for no apparent reason that I can tell. To the best of my knowledge, I was a good friend to her for over 25 years. She used to call me every day, we used to talk about everything. Something changed in the last six months or so and I could see it in her but I couldn't put my finger on it. She became jealous,threatened, accusatory with me. She began setting me up in situations I knew were going to bring out her worst insecurities and then later tearing me down both to my face and behind my back. The judgment began.
You might ask, with all this going on, why would you want her as a friend? Longevity is a powerful thing.
New friendships are fledgling, flighty little things, they haven't been time tested and they are likely to be need of the moment based. Maybe the two of you are going through a similar crisis at the same time and when that crisis is over, you don't need one another any more. We've all been there, right? So, you kind of drift apart but are glad to see one other from time to time.
A few years ago I ended a toxic friendship, but we did it respectfully, after a long and nasty set of emails, and a last ditch attempt to save the friendship, I realized we needed a total breakup. I don't do casual very well- especially with someone I had been very close with for two decades, it had to be a complete end. It was hard, it was brutal, there was anger and pain. Part of me missed her, part of me hated her and was still angry and still had things to say and part of me, a very small part wanted to talk to her again.
I mean, even my worst, most heinous ex boyfriends, I will speak to them. I have never put any relationship in the deep freeze for life. And you know, if I saw her in the grocery store, I would say hello but I don't think I will ever pick up the telephone and call her ever again, or drop by her house or send her a Christmas card. Here is how that is different from this. Because it is what we decided together- we mutually agreed on these rules and we ended it gracefully and respectfully.
I have too much honor to do it any other way. And after being friends that long and that deeply, we owed one another some mutual respect. So as painful as it was, and my first real breakup with a friend, we at least did it with a conversation.
Not the case here. This girl decided I meant something I did not mean, threw a hissy fit and blocked me from her entire life. After 25 years, I wasn't even given the decency of a conversation. I mean, what is she, twelve? Still, I gave it the prerequisite time and space, given the longevity of the friendship- and after a month, we did talk briefly and I was promised a conversation when I got out here to LA- promised that there would be a grown up conversation. There was an item that she had given me a long time ago- a toy chest, that I promised to return if ever I drove out here. Well, I kept my promise. I drove it out here. And when I arrived, I called her and she wouldn't return my calls. I gave it a week after calling once and texting once. I then informed her voice mail if I did not hear from her, I would be dropping off the toy chest on her front porch. Can you imagine?
How immature and cowardly do you have to be?
I gave it a couple days. To be fair. This was an important family chest for her and the last thing I wanted to do was drop it and leave it unattended. I knew it meant a lot to her. And it burned me up that I was being so considerate to someone who was being so childish and inconsiderate to me. Why should I care if she didn't?
It is stupid. So stupid. Both of us have friends that have died suddenly. What we would do for one more conversation. To be this stupid at this age when we have experienced such loss already in our lives, it is almost criminal of her to treat me like this, so callous, so cruel, so stupid.
On Tuesday, I went to Trader Joe's and forgot about the stupid toy chest until I opened my trunk- but there it was. Now where the hell was I going to put my groceries? The chest was now making me angry because it was inconvenient and annoying. It was time. I was done.
I drove over to her place, it was just getting dark and I picked up the toy chest and I put it on her front porch. As I turned to leave, her eight year old daughter came running to me. My heart stopped. This toy chest was for her, and I expected her mother to be right behind her. Oh God, I did not want to have a confrontation in front of this precious child. I just wouldn't. The kid and I were pretty good friends. She had joy in her eyes when she saw me. It broke my heart.
"Is my mom with you?" she asked.
"No," I replied. To my great relief, the neighbor was watching the little girl.
I pasted a smile on my face and told the little girl the history of the toy chest, that it had been her mother's when she was a child and her mother had given it to me for my children and for safe keeping to return to her if she ever had a child, but driving it out to LA from St. Louis had been a challenge. But now it was here. I felt good that I had kept my promise, kept my honor, and happy that me telling this to the child was bringing such happiness and wonder to her face and terrible that I was doing it for someone who was displaying such cruelty towards me. Still, I knew I was doing a good thing, at least for the child and that was small comfort, I could hold my head high.
I turned and left, not knowing the state of our friendship but suspecting it was dead in that toy chest now. In that coffin lay twenty five years of friendship. There was no wake, no funeral and no memorial service. I went home and wrote all my pain and my anger in a letter that I would drop in her mailbox a few days later. But it's like shouting in a deaf person's ear. No response. I can't even know if she read it. I'm left with all these feelings and I'm trying not to be held hostage by them. I have to be content with the fact that I vented my feelings whether or not she received them, they went out into the world as energy and my cries were heard, even if she was deaf to them.
It shakes up your world to know that friendship ends.
I'm going to have to work this out in my own time.
I don't need her, but I miss her.
We had way more good times than bad times.
When she was my friend, she was true and good. She wasn't mean to me for 25 years. She was supportive and loving and generous. Sure she could be a real bitch sometimes but I love her, anyway. I knew there was this side of her but naively believed it would never be turned on me.
I know that this behavior will back up on her. That one day she will realize it was her foolish pride and her insecurity and her issues that she projected on to me. Every day that goes by makes me wonder if I can forgive her and be her friend again. She has breached a huge trust.
I remember being dumped by a boyfriend in a particularly heartless way and knowing that there was a period of time when he could take it back and I could forgive him- maybe a few hours for him to make it right- but there was the part of me that knew he had crossed a line to a place where it would be impossible to come back from- that the heinous thing that he had done was something I could never condone, and I think I have been fooling myself that I can forgive her and move on in the friendship. I have to be worth more than that to myself.
Longevity has been what saved her up til now. But I deserve better. And I have to hold myself to a higher standard. I have to know that I don't deserve to be treated this way.
I can't know the future but I do know when that ex boyfriend came crawling back, I knew he was not worthy of my love and forgiveness. I don't know if she is. That guy had three months of my life but I do know that every day that passes makes me stronger in this. My tender heart likes to forgive but I like myself stronger with more resolve. I suppose there is a reason for this but I still find it a dreadful waste of pride and stubbornness where it is unnecessary.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

No comments: