I'm posting this anonymously because "Angie" read it (unlikely, but not impossible), I think it would genuinely hurt her feelings. Also, I feel like an idiot to be posting this at all. This is kind of long and pathetic. Sorry. Summary: Internet friendship crashed & burned, I feel badly about it, what can I do to get over myself?
Back in mid-spring, I met Angie on an Internet forum. We're about the same age (mid-30s, for God's sake), with many similar interests, and since we were both new to the forums, we had something else to bond over, and we BS'd a lot in private messages and in chat.
Angie has had a lousy summer, with family and job problems. She & her partner moved to a new city in February, and she hasn't met anyone to be friends with, and by her own admission, she has a hard time making and keeping friends; she tends to pick fights with people she trusts not to hurt her. She has a bad family background (emotional/verbal abuse) and is struggling with getting help with her bipolar disorder (she's adjusting meds, but will not go to therapists, having had no help from them before).
I'm generally good with online "relationships". If someone gets hostile or weird, I have no problem with shutting them down. I'm pretty friendly, I don't mind lending an ear to someone who needs to vent, and I try to be supportive when it feels like someone's having a rough time. I fit in pretty quickly on the forums, where Angie had more trouble. She wasn't hostile or anything, just sort of abrasive when she disagreed with someone.
Angie and I got along really well at the start, but the more I started interacting with other forum members, the more she seemed to need validation that I really liked her, too (which I did, and do!). The more I talked to other people in public threads, the worse it seemed to get.
To make a very long story short, we've had four major arguments in the last few months, each one with her trying to insist that I needed to stop talking to specific forum members because they'd been mean to her, and the last two ending with her calling me a variety of names, accusing me of sucking up to people, being two-faced and so on. After each fight, she never really apologized, but her behavior was apologetic if that makes sense. She started getting into minor clashes with other users, too.
Earlier this week on GChat, we got into it again. She tried to insist that I needed to stop talking to certain people (even privately) and that she wouldn't talk to people who'd been mean to me. I pointed out that the only one on the forums who had been "mean" to me was her, with the repeated name-calling. It was juvenile of me, I know. That set her off, things got worse, and I ended the chat, then ignored the follow-up email that started out with more accusations. That was childish, too, but I didn't see any good in trying to keep talking to her. I'm pretty sure that's the end of things. This morning, she posted a "good bye to the forums" thread that nobody responded to.
The thing is, I feel really, really badly for her. I know she's hurting and angry, and that she lashes out without thinking. But I just don't feel like there's anything I can do to help her. I feel guilty about my own part in it. Would it have helped to limit my interactions with other forum members (but that just feels weird and a little crazy)? I don't feel like I've been a bad friend, but I still wish things could be different, and I do feel like I've abandoned her. I'm also pretty sure that if we "reconcile" the cycle will just repeat itself. But I do miss the friend I had.
My questions: 1) What can I do to keep from second-guessing myself and going through the cycle again? and 2) What are some ways to quit worrying about her? I'm avoiding the forums for a while, since I feel really anxious about "seeing" her there, and even pulling up the site makes me feel worse. Is it weird that I'm trying very hard to remember the good stuff and dump out the bad? Should I try to at least email her to wish her well? And what the hell is wrong with me, I'm a grown woman and this is an Internet friendship, for Christ's sake?!
Thanks for anyone who read this. I feel better typing out even if I do feel incredibly stupid reading it.