How do I stop blaming myself and let go?
February 28, 2009 1:42 PM   Subscribe

After 27 years of being best friends (we had baby pictures together, and were inseparable), mine decided to drop off the face of the planet and never call me again after I moved to Austin.

I really needed my best friend to talk to, and after being there for her through every bad thing in her life, she was nowhere to be found for me. When I finally confronted her, she acted like she had nothing to explain or apologize for. She said I never gave her grace, that I was too hard on her and expected too much. All I expected was a phone call from my best friend asking how I was! Now I am full of self-deprication, hating myself because I feel responsible for losing my friend, like what she said was true.

How do I stop blaming myself when I know she was mainly responsible for our "breakup", and truly let her go?
posted by HPag to Human Relations (64 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you are partially to blame, and you should work on accepting that? Friends don't disappear for no reason at all. You've got to have had some role in this.
posted by footnote at 1:51 PM on February 28, 2009

I know this is a common refrain, but I have been through similiar, and therapy will help with this
posted by sweetkid at 1:52 PM on February 28, 2009

Surely you're familiar with the phrase out of sight, out of mind.

Often, when people relocate, after a short period of missing their friend, those left behind move on with their lives. The former friend who moved to brighter pastures isn't part of every day life anymore. Consider that to your friend, you are now out of sight, out of mind.

To deal with it, and let go, think of driving in a car. Concentrate your efforts looking straight ahead out the windshield. If you continuously focus on what is in the rear view mirror, regrets and sorrow, you may not see that cow in the road you're just about to plow into.
posted by netbros at 1:53 PM on February 28, 2009 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks footnote, did you read the "self-depricating" part? Even if I was a horribly overbearing friend (which I don't believe I was), then the least she could have done is tell me to f***k off, instead of just never bothering to return a phone call, leaving me to wonder what the hell I'd done.
Sweetkid, I think you're probably right.
posted by HPag at 1:55 PM on February 28, 2009

I lost my best friend (since 4th grade! we wore that like a badge of honor through our 20s) a few years ago over something that I thought was completely ridiculous - one of my good friends was getting married on the same day that she was having a last-minute engagement party that no one else could make it to. It was in totally different areas, so I couldn't swing showing up to both. I chose to go to what I committed to first, she chose to not speak to me again. (I can see both sides, and I still see that I'm trying to defend my choice here).

All I can say is that your energy is wasted trying to figure out who was in the wrong here. It doesn't matter who was responsible. The friendship has run its course. You have grown apart. It sucks, because who else are you going to call "just because"? But that's what it is.

It sucks, I know.
posted by AlisonM at 1:55 PM on February 28, 2009

Welcome to my world.

It's life and unless you never move, it will never change.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:57 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Netbros, I think you're absolutely right. And I'm trying, really.
This girl is, by nature, a flake. Flakes tend to be more "out of sight, out of mind" more than average conscientious folk. But 27 years of being best friends, and she never calls me again? Out of sight out of mind is one thing, but I never expected this.
Thanks for answering.
posted by HPag at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2009

Are you sure the friendship is lost? You don't sound like you truly want to let it go.
posted by salvia at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2009

And I'm sorry for what you're going through. It's hard to feel like you're losing a friend, especially one this close. It's hard when friends don't call.

I bet it was hard for her that you moved away. I'm wondering if you guys are both in pain and just handling it in very different ways, ways that are hard for the other one to accept.
posted by salvia at 2:00 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: AlisonM, that sucks! How ridiculous to lose a friend over something so trivial.
I guess what hurts and confuses me the most is that up to the day I left, she was all, "I'm totally coming to visit, I'm gonna miss you so much, blah blah blah!!" And then I never hear from her again. I mean, we're not teenagers here! Just return a phone call and tell me you're over it, ya know?!
I just miss my friend, and I'm hurt because she obviously doesn't miss me. But I know, "get over it and move on".
Thanks for responding.
posted by HPag at 2:03 PM on February 28, 2009

Be certain that it is not the desire to avoid admitting something to yourself that keeps you hanging on to this situation in your mind.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

People grow apart. It's very unfortunate. When people are no longer in the same place, their relationship often changes. It doesn't matter if the "places" are geographic or otherwise.

You're grieving the loss of a relationship and that's very, very hard, so be easy on yourself. You should also make more friends if you aren't already. Therapy could help you transition to this new stage of life where this friend isn't such a big part.

And just so you know, I've been a bad friend many times. It doesn't feel good on the other side, either. At least not for me. There are people whom I know that I can always talk to, even if we go for a long, long time without talking; still, I know that I'm missing out on something by not talking to them. But then sometimes...the guilt, the effort, the comfort of isolation and not having to sum up my life...perhaps its not nice, but in the past when some of my friends have sort of demanded that I be friends on their schedule, well, it makes it that less easy. I think that even if your friend fouled up, you should really consider what she has to say, and what your reaction means. Therapy would be a good place to do that.
posted by theefixedstars at 2:07 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Salvia, of course I don't want to let it go. I love this girl, she was "my person" my whole life. But I confronted her, told her everything, and I got nothing. She acted like I was extremely unreasonable for being upset that she never called me back. Like I just need to accept that people live their lives and do their thing, and I can't expect anything out of anyone. What kills me is, I know she's right. But is it so wrong to expect from your best friend? The one who held you when your mom died, who brought you wine and sat with you through your divorce? And I never even got a phone call.
I'm totally not bitter, can you tell? ;-)
posted by HPag at 2:07 PM on February 28, 2009

My slogan for this type of life experience:

"Time marches on."
posted by fairmettle at 2:11 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: theefixedstars, I know you're right. I need to talk this out. The most hurtful thing is that it happened so quickly; one day we're still best friends and then the next she doesn't care a bit about how I am.
I heard what she had to say about this, and it wasn't much (all the more infuriating). I guess I need to face the fact that we're just different, forgive her, forgive me, and get over it.
Thanks for answering.
posted by HPag at 2:11 PM on February 28, 2009

Sounds like your friend herself isn't a stranger to loss. Maybe your moving provided her some space from what's happened in the past. That's not fair, of course, because you were with her during those times out of friendship, and don't get to benefit in turn. But if you can give the woman her space, and more importantly, NOT make it about you, I don't think you'll have to lose this friendship.
posted by theefixedstars at 2:13 PM on February 28, 2009

Are you sure she doesn't miss you?

I've known people for whom phone call friendships just don't work. They love the person and the minute they see each other -- years later, even -- all the great feelings are back, and it's like they never left. But talking to them from afar just makes them frustrated that they're not there in their daily life. Maybe she loves and misses you, and wishes she could hang out like you used to, but since she can't, and since the telephone isn't the same at all, she throws herself into her daily life as a way of dealing with it.
posted by salvia at 2:14 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: I hear you, theefixedstars. But I fear my hurt will get in the way of mending this. All that happened to her years ago, so I understand the need for space, but I moved to another city! How much space does one need? All I expected was a phone call once in a while, not a visit, or constant communication. I'm trying not to make it all about me, but it's very difficult not to take this personally.
posted by HPag at 2:18 PM on February 28, 2009

All I expected was a phone call from my best friend asking how I was!

Wait, you're expecting these? If she moved away and stopped talking to you, wouldn't you want a phone call about how she was? Yes, you're going through a hard time, but what if she was too? It probably took a lot of strength to distance herself from a 20+ year relationship so it's probably not just for some trifle reason, and it doesn't sound like you're being that supportive about her choices either. She probably said those mean things because she was being defensive, which is just a way some people try to cope with stressful situations or verbal attacks, not everyone can say "fuck off."

Maybe you didn't know her as well as you thought you did? Now would be the time to get to know her better.
posted by nikkorizz at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2009

Oh, also (I should really triple-think these through before I post...)

I also moved to a big city (NYC) from the (sorta distant) burbs about a year before my friend and I had our falling out. When I first mentioned that I was thinking of moving here, she said, "well, that's stupid, you can't go to art school, you're in your twenties. Get a real job." I got her theory, but I had the drive to do what I wanted. But no. What I wanted to do was stupid, stupid, stupid no matter what I said.

Now, say what you will about what she thought of me, and say what you will about how she views the world, but I still think it came from a place of "you're leaving me." Whether that's good or bad is up to you. For me....well, I knew we were drifting apart long before our last conversation.

In Alisonland, friends are supportive. They express concern, sure. They're able to say what they want without worrying about what I'll think. But there's a big difference between caring about someone's well-being and actively trying to stop someone from doing what they need to do.

(Man, I'm still defending myself, aren't I?)

on preview: for whatever it's worth, I still miss her too. And I realized our friendship was over when she didn't answer/return my calls/emails/IMs. But I eventually decided that it's just not worth it. And I'm willing to bet that your friend misses you. Just this past Christmas, one of my friends (who she knows in passing) told me that he ran into her and she asked about me. Part of me was all "yes! she remembers me!" but then I realized that was silly.
posted by AlisonM at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Salvia, I guess that could be the case. But I think she sucks if it is. Moving to a new city was really hard for me, and like I said, I needed her. I think that was my mistake.
posted by HPag at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Nikkorizz, I get that, and I DID call her. About five times after I moved here. She never called me back. How many times would you call someone without a return phone call before you stopped calling? I text her, "how's it goin, how are you, what you up to" She would occasionally answer a text, but never returned a call. So what am I to do? Keep calling, stalker style? Sorry, but my pride took over.
posted by HPag at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2009

HPag, you really don't sound like you are blaming yourself. Are you just needing a sounding board to confirm to yourself that your friend is flaky, unappreciative, made you feel hurt and confused, etc.?
posted by Houstonian at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I feel your pain, AlisonM. The kicker to me was, on my birthday I got a card, saying "I love you, hope your birthday is joyful! blah blah..." But at that point? That was just saying to me "I'm the good guy, I didn't do anything wrong, see? I'm saying I love you!"
This from the same girl who never made a move to get together when I was home for a week over Christmas. Sorry, I don't feel the love from your birthday card.
posted by HPag at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Houstonian, if you could take a look inside my head, you would see that there's so much more to this story than I could write. About how since this girl knows me better than anyone in the world, she knows that the most hurtful thing to possibly do is compare me to my mom, who lost every person in her life (including me) because she's nuts. And that's what my friend did. So yes, not I'm hating myself, terrified I'm following in my mom's footsteps, thinking that I'll never be able to sustain a relationship because I couldn't even sustain one with my own best friend.
So yes, I'm blaming myself. And maybe I did write on here because I wanted a little reassurance that what she did wasn't deserved. Sue me.
posted by HPag at 2:33 PM on February 28, 2009

This might sound silly, but what if you discovered she had an unseen disability, a phone disability or a long-distance communication disability. What if scientists discovered that certain people only liked to communicate frequently with people who lived within 35 miles of them, and she had this gene.

You still wouldn't be able to talk to her, and so it would still suck, but would it make a big difference to you?

I'm trying to actually write a comment instead of a bunch of questions, but I figure I'll send off the questions while you're still following the thread.
posted by salvia at 2:37 PM on February 28, 2009

First, something very similar happened to me when I moved away at 18. I felt abandoned and hurt for a long time. I was working in a store, and I talked about it with someone I worked with. She looked at me puzzled, and said, "but you're the one that moved." It really struck me. Sure I wanted more from these friendships, but you know, I was the one that left. I felt abandoned, but I was the one that actually perpetrated the physical and emotional abandoning. I was the one that left.

Second, if you're the one that moved, and you're lonely, you should pick up the phone and ask for support or help or love. Don't move away from someone you love, separate yourself, and then complain they are not doing enough for you. They are not long-distance mind readers. She probably thought you were having the time of your life meeting new people and having a blast while she was stuck at the same shitty job or whatever.

To let this go, you have to admit your part in it. It sucks though.
posted by milarepa at 2:38 PM on February 28, 2009

By "would it make a big difference to you" I mean, would it change how angry you are at her, or even change whether you would still feel like she was your friend?
posted by salvia at 2:39 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Salvia, I expect it would make a difference. It still wouldn't explain why she didn't care to get together when I was home for a week (though to be fair, my feelings were so hurt at that point I didn't call her either).
Hmm...maybe she DOES have a communication disability. I should look at it like this instead of gettin all hurt feelings about it, yes?
posted by HPag at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2009

So fine. Let her have the upper hand/last word with the birthday card. Try to let it go. (I don't know specifically HOW....all I can say is time helps.) Maybe send her a birthday card or stay cordial if you're in town again (like, an email, "hey I'll be home this weekend, if you want to meet up, call me"), but don't expect anything back.

It's hard! Because your whole life you thought there would be that one person (other than your immediate family) who have always known you. That person who could walk in the front door without knocking, or who's house you could show up at unannounced.

But, as you get older, that's not how it is for a lot of us. And that's not necessarily such a bad thing. I mean, do we really want people in our world who has had a visual of us during that awkward stage? Or someone who watched us smoke our first cigarette and promptly vomit? And don't even get me started on that NKOTB stage. Yeah, it's fun for nostalgia's sake, but what is that really worth?

I say childhood is overrated.
posted by AlisonM at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would agree with you, milarepa, but she said that she had called the friend about 5 times after she moved and the friend never called back. She wasn't waiting for a phone call, she was waiting for a call back.
posted by fructose at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2009

HPag, sue you? Hey, I was just trying to find out if this was a real question (how do I stop blaming myself) or chatfilter (my friend hurt me; make me feel better).
posted by Houstonian at 2:43 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Miarepa, I understand your point. But I DID call her, I DID make an effort. And she moved away too, a while ago. She lived in Florida for four years. And she wasn't that good about calling then, but nothing like this. Once she moved back to our city (in Ohio) we picked up and were closer than ever. So she can't feel that abandoned, when she moved away first, years ago. Although, I guess you can't control how you feel, so it's possible to feel abandoned even when you have no reason to be. She's probably just withdrawing from our friendship. I should let her, I suppose.
posted by HPag at 2:45 PM on February 28, 2009

You mention that you needed her. Could it be that you were too needy?
I was in a similar situation a few years ago, and after she moved, I missed her but I was also relieved.
posted by Linnee at 2:45 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, Houstonian, I got defensive. It's just a sensitive subject. Thanks for commenting.
And I'm new to metafilter, I didn't know about chatfilter until just now. Thanks for suggesting.
posted by HPag at 2:47 PM on February 28, 2009

I should look at it like this instead of gettin all hurt feelings about it, yes?

It might help. I mean, it's likely true. I know so many people who -- for a variety of reasons -- don't maintain long-distance relationships.

You'd still miss her. But I'm guessing that some of the hurt and anger would go away. I'm guessing that some of the hurt and anger comes from either expecting something she can't give, or thinking that the fact that she's not giving it means she doesn't care about you.

Would it be worth it to stay friends with (to still hold in your heart and try to find ways to maintain a connection with) a person who had a communication disability? You wouldn't get the phone call love that you'd want... but it sounds like you'd get some kinds of love, like birthday card love...?
posted by salvia at 2:48 PM on February 28, 2009

Like I just need to accept that people live their lives and do their thing, and I can't expect anything out of anyone.

Wellllll, yes and no. Some people, even people who once deeply valued their friendships as children, adolescents, and adults, evolve in individuals who need friends to be in front of them, a 10-minute walk away, near and dear. Or maybe you're friend is doing some emotional damage control: you left her, moved to a new city, and regardless of your emotional bonds she knows things won't be the same.

My absolute dearest friend lived with me in NYC up until a year ago. Then she decided New York wasn't for her and she moved to Boise to be closer to her family. We cried and hugged and sniffled and promised we'd call, but for a while I just went underground to mourn and recuperate. Even though she could call, we couldn't go down to the bar anymore, or meet each other for lunch on work days. I made new friends and formed stronger social circles with local people. I felt a little adrift my old friend telephoned with bizarre tales of Idaho. She felt that distance and was hurt--she needed me to talk her through this weird transition, and I was flitting around Brooklyn having fun without her, pretending everything was okay. I am still ashamed of how selfish this defense mechanism was, and while she never confronted me about it, I'm sure I would have been equally self-righteous and dismissive of her feelings.

We waded through that murky part of our friendship and now we're back to calling each other twice a week. I can't make the same guarantee for your friendship, but this will hurt less if you see her reaction as a natural manifestation of a friendship that was suddenly and irrevocably changed by a big move.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Linnee, yea, that's about what's been running through my head for the past few months (that's the self-deprecation I was talking about). I didn't think an occasional phone call was too needy, but I guess it was for her.
posted by HPag at 2:50 PM on February 28, 2009

Also, just to reiterate: she might have felt doubly wounded when you confront her for being remiss after you moved away. I know I would have had a pretty uncalled-for reaction akin to "Hey, YOU'RE the one who moved," if my friend had accused me of neglecting her. I'm not saying that's fair play, but it's a pretty understandable response when you're the one who left.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:54 PM on February 28, 2009

Milarepa, I understand your point. But I DID call her...

Ahh, well that's different. M
posted by milarepa at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you zoomorphic. That was incredible helpful, and I really appreciate your view from the other side. The most hurtful and confusing thing to me has been her acting like everything is normal and okay, even though it's obviously not. I need (want) to talk it out, and she doesn't.
Now I understand a little better why she's handling this the way she is. Thank you.
posted by HPag at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Zoomorphic, yea, I really didn't want to confront her in the first place. I knew her well enough to know how it was gonna go down, and I was exactly right. But something happened to trigger it and it all came out. Regretfully.
posted by HPag at 3:00 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: AlisonM, I totally hear
But you're right, our history together is maybe better left in the past. Just hard, letting go of the one person who's been there your whole life...
posted by HPag at 3:03 PM on February 28, 2009

Hey! I'm 30! I was right in that demographic when I was 11ish :)

It sucks, but like I said, give it time. Whoever's fault it was doesn't matter in the end.
posted by AlisonM at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2009

Mod note: Heya, HPag—I'm one of the mods here on mefi. I know you're new here, and I want to jump in here to clarify that responding to every comment in a thread is pretty much not how AskMe is supposed to work, and you need to throttle it back a bunch in here.

If you left out some key details in your question and that's leading some people in the wrong direction, it's fine to toss in a clarifying update or two, but try to keep it to that. It's not really okay to just have a conversation in here—that's not how the site's supposed to work. Please try to keep the replies going forward to a minimum. Feel free to drop me some email if you want to talk about the details of this. Thanks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2009 [13 favorites]

I guess what hurts and confuses me the most is that up to the day I left, she was all, "I'm totally coming to visit, I'm gonna miss you so much, blah blah blah!!"

Ugh. I hate myself for admitting this but I have absolutely been her in similar situations and in my head I was just thinking: great! you're leaving! I'm totally over our friendship and it's been tiresome to keep it up! But of course I wouldn't say that outloud to this person I had known for years who was moving away -- that would be heartless. It is obvious to me that the other alternative -- turning off like a lightswitch and ignoring someone after they move away -- is heartless as well, but it sure is a lot easier than a public, painful confrontation where I tell you I am over our friendship. And humans by nature take the easy way out. It is entirely possible that while this friend is saying oh yeah I miss you! let's catch up! inside she is thinking man, some ice cream would be great right about now. And did I take the sheets off the line?
posted by kate blank at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2009

In the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, an old man called Daniel Waterhouse is asked about his lifelong, but occasionally adversarial, friendship with Sir Isaac Newton. His response:

"Sir Isaac and I are such good friends that we sometimes don't speak for years at a time."
posted by baphomet at 3:40 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]

Listen to what your friend said to you. She said you were being too hard on her and expecting too much. She said you weren't behaving with grace. Honestly, I think she has a point here, given that your question neglects to mention anything about her beyond her function in your life as someone you could always talk to. You sound as if your expectation was that you would move away and she would simply continue to behave, or function for you, as she always had. That's not realistic and, in many ways, sounds selfish. She has feelings. You have feelings. You need to remind yourself that you are not the only one with needs here.

Were I you, I'd talk less and listen more. Perhaps you need to accept some responsibility for your own behavior. Perhaps you need to apologize for confronting her, when you might have just called her and gauged where she was in dealing with your having moved away by having a light chat along the lines of "What's new with you? Oh, yeah? That's great. I wish I could have been there for that.", etc., etc. Sounds to me like you unloaded with both barrels and that pissed her off and, in my opinion, rightfully so.

Frankly, scrapping a friendship of this many years because of one argument sounds to me like you wanting to escape having to deal with the challenges of re-defining your friendship. Cut her some slack, get her on the phone, apologize for being too hard on her, and then ask her how she feels. Then listen. If she doesn't want to be your friend, that's too bad, but you may have to deal with some harsh realities here. Or maybe you two can work through it. You'll never know unless you make a good-faith, non-antagonistic, open-minded try.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 3:45 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have a lot of sympathy for you, because it is hard to move. [1] So, you want her to be supportive for you by calling. I can completely understand your wanting that. But unfortunately, it sounds like it's not something she can give, not now at least. [2] That leaves you in a sucky situation, where you want something from your friend that she can't offer. The question for you is: can you accept her limitation and still consider her a friend? [3] Can you find ways to still love her and to still feel connected? [4] Or do you want her phone calls so bad that you can't even consider her a friend if she can't do that?

It sounds like your friendship is at a low point now, but some friendships go down and then back up, while other friendships just die off. If you kept some sort of connection with her, maybe one day it could get stronger again. Assuming I thought the situation was more like zoomorphic's than kate blank's, I'd try to leave the door open enough that this could happen.

But sometimes pain means that the best choice is too difficult to make, and if it's impossible for you to keep her in your heart as a friend at all, okay, that's how you feel. But then, just realize that it is as much about you as it is about her. It's as much about your own limitations (your own inability or unwillingness to be friends with people who don't call you regularly) and so it's probably not right to just blame her for not meeting your needs.

If you do try to reconnect, it sounds like you might have to apologize, and it might take time on both sides before a good conversation could happen. It'll take time to feel better no matter which way you go, and I'm sorry it sucks so much right now.

[1] We moved four times when I was a kid, and it always, always hurt when a friend didn't write to me. I was the one in my family who checked the mailbox every day. Some friends were good letter-writers, and some -- even some really close friends -- just weren't. They'd write once or twice, and that would be it. And even the best letter writers, over time, would gradually write less and less often. It was sad, because they often stopped writing before I'd found good friends in the new place that I lived.
[2] It doesn't mean she doesn't like you or miss you. Maybe she can't pay the long-distance bill, or she hates talking on the phone, or she can't deal with the sadness she feels when she talks to you, or she just doesn't want to have a life where her closest friend lives hundreds of miles away. I'm not defending her choice. But you might want to try not to take it personally.
[3] In doing this, it might help to change how you think about her not calling so that it causes you less pain. Part of it -- the loneliness and sadness -- is probably unavoidable. But another part -- hurt and anger caused by you thinking "she isn't calling, therefore she doesn't like me, or she doesn't care about my sadness" and "she SHOULD call me, so therefore she's not being a good friend" -- might be avoidable. If you think of it as her disability, maybe all you'll feel is the sadness of missing her, without the hurt of believing she must not care or the frustration of her not carrying out obligations you think she has.
[4] Maybe you guys could make a plan to visit each other every six months? Or something? It'll probably take some time to set up a different way to stay connected, something that would keep you feeling like you're friends, but if you do get back on speaking terms, maybe you could ask for some ideas that would work for her?

posted by salvia at 3:56 PM on February 28, 2009

Is it possible that your friend may be depressed? Sometimes in the midst of depression, just responding to a phone call can seem impossibly difficult, particularly when you know that the other person will probably want to talk about how things are going. And when they're going badly, it's sometimes impossible to tell people that. Some people just drop off the radar when they're depressed. (I'm not suggesting that it's a good coping strategy.)

With the birthday card, she might have felt that communicating in writing was the only way she could tell you that she still cares very much about you.

And she may not seem depressed if you talk to her/see her. Some people who deal with depression are masters at hiding it from loved ones. You might just have to wait it out and see what happens over time. There's a chance that this may be nothing personal.

My $0.02, anyway.
posted by corey flood at 4:54 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: ok ok, cortex. Sorry about that, I am new here and didn't know specifics. My apologies. I'll totally shut up now.
(after this last one)
Thanks everyone for helping me out! I know the truth hurts and sometimes the people who love you are the last to tell you that.
posted by HPag at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2009

I've been a bad friend to people in the past for a few reasons, so I'm just going to put an idea out there for you and maybe you can save the friendship, maybe not. Im answering this from the perspective of a sometimes bad friend (as in, could the other person have done something to save it?)

Bad friend history: For me, the first few times I moved to a new place and the other friends stayed in their respective locations,it was hard to understand that a friendship can continue. A few good, persistant friends showed me that it is possible with a bit of work (eg, calls, emails, visit every few months/years, etc). Your friend may be similar and not see this yet.

My other bad friend history is that sometimes, if the person does something that just drives me crazy (emotionally demanding? I don't know) -- my reaction is to put distance and it helps. I need a month, 2 months, etc., to just get away. Unfortunately by then the friendship is over if I take that route.

If you want to try to save the friendship, don't bother this person for a while (a month? a few months? Until her next birthday?). Then send a letter, a card perhaps. Part of the letter can say "Thank you for the friendship we had, these are things that I appreciated/enjoyed, and will always remember you because of this:" --then put in your things like -- you helped me when I was going through a divorce (basically the info you put in one of your posts up there). Put memories you have of good times for both of you. You can also say that you were really sorry for X, Y, and Z, and would love to continue the friendship and you will do your utmost to change those things. Close it with your email and say that you would like to continue the conversation, but if not, you understand.

This is just me, but if she replies to that, I think email would be better - it is less emotional. Ask if she can give examples so that you can really change it.

If the friendship is salvaged, do offer to meet with her (part of day) when you are in town, and if you have always been close -- taking vacations together can help bring a friendship back to previous levels.

Also, it sounds like you have a lot of pain and it may be isolating living in a new place. Invest that extra time to go make new friends in your new town/city. You can find other people to help with these same things, and although they are not your best friend, you can make new ones.

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 5:18 PM on February 28, 2009

"Women don't know real friendship. Women only know love" F. Nietzsche
There is a lot of truth in this. I rarely have seen long lasting female friendships. It is even not unusual for women to totally change their circle of friends every few years.

posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:37 PM on February 28, 2009

"Women don't know real friendship. Women only know love" F. Nietzsche

This doesn't even deserve a response.
posted by footnote at 6:03 PM on February 28, 2009 [10 favorites]

"Women don't know real friendship. Women only know love" F. Nietzsche
There is a lot of truth in this. I rarely have seen long lasting female friendships.

First of all, don't believe this misogynist bullshit. I have female friends who have been around for a long, long time (i.e., going on twenty years), and so do most of the women I know. I've also turned my back on some friendships. I'm sure some of my former friends think I'm an asshole, but that doesn't negate the fact that I'm in daily, conflict-free contact with some of my current friends, and that they find me trustworthy and worthwhile.

Try not to fixate on the fact that your friend just cut you off. If she had called you and told you why she wasn't interested in being friends anymore that would likely hurt just as much in a different way. Your real issue with this is that it's over.

People grow and change through their lives. Some people grow a lot and others don't grow at all, and this means that sometimes a relationship that has worked in the past (or at least worked well enough to limp along) reaches a breaking point. Other times this life progression will mean you find yourself growing closer to someone who has been a casual acquaintance for years, or who has come back into your life after years of no contact.

Try to accept and work with this kind of ebb and flow, rather than clinging to what is lost.
posted by orange swan at 6:10 PM on February 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

This girl is, by nature, a flake.

Maybe she's glad you're gone?
posted by bricoleur at 6:39 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do see that you care a lot about her in your question and follow up answers, but I also see how you are assigning reasoning to her (in)actions that you cannot know. When you confronted her about it, you say, "I really didn't want to confront her in the first place. I knew her well enough to know how it was gonna go down, and I was exactly right". It sounds like the conversation went down exactly as you thought because you already had made up your mind. Frankly, she said that you never gave her grace, that you were too hard on her and expected too much. And your response is to blame her and make her 100% at fault for the dissolution of the friendship. She's.... kinda got a point there.

Like, you were at home for a week at Christmas. You didn't call her. She didn't call you. And yet fact that the two of you did not get together is her fault, even though you were exactly as inactive as she was.
She sends you are birthday card, tells you she loves you, and -nope!- it's not enough.
You move away but she's not allowed to feel abandoned because she had moved to Florida at one point. You've got a pretty tight statute of limitations on geographical abandonment there, especially to someone who was divorced and lost a parent by age 27.

Instead of blaming her completely, you could consider that maybe, just maybe, you do not have all of the details of the situation.
Like, if I had a bunch of shit going on in my life and I was overwhelmed and depressed and exhausted with the pressure of it all, and I had a friend who took my absence as a complete affront to her and our friendship, I sure as hell wouldn't be too damn motivated to connect with her. Because I'd have to trudge through conversations where I am the villain, the shitty friend, and since no matter what I did wasn't enough I'm really not going to spend that emotional energy right now.
So maybe: a) it's not about you, chill out and give it some time, or b) it is about you and you are too hard on her and need to cut her some slack. Either way, take a step back and truly listen to what she said to you.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:22 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Perhaps she had just grown tired of the friendship? This has happened to me once or twice, when someone I was really close with moved away, or a nomadic friend dropped back into town for a few months. Sometimes people just fall into the habit of something, and stop really thinking about whether it's what they really want to be doing, or if it's just "what they do". Speaking for myself, on one occasion after someone left I realised there just wasn't much of a hole, at least not as much as I thought there would be, when they were gone, and as a result I felt less compelled to stay in contact. In another instance, when Nomadic Friend showed up again, I was at a point where I was dissatisfied with a few things in my life, and (I think) because of that dissatisfaction I was less complacent about our friendship. I came to see that it was just a routine--going to the same places, doing the same things, having the same conversations. I felt like we were still friends simply by virtue of the fact that we had been friends for so long, even though we had grown apart as people. I don't know the specifics of your relationship with your friend, but perhaps she's just moving on?
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 1:01 AM on March 1, 2009

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Iyanla Vanzant
posted by watercarrier at 1:04 AM on March 1, 2009

I remember once calling an old dormitory friend after a move. We ended up talking about how some other people of the 'old group' weren't keeping in touch, and how silly it was if one didn't have much to say to each other after a time of living in different places.
Then there was this sudden profound silence at the other end of the line, as in "think about it for a while, buddy". After this conversation, I never heard of that person again.
What I only understood years later was that she had brought up the topic strategically, because she was re-arranging her stash of buddies.

With all this moving around I've learned that some people are easy to talk to even after a decade of no-contact, while others have already lost you after a week, no matter what you try being for them.
posted by Namlit at 6:23 AM on March 1, 2009

Unlike many on this site, I'm not one to point to therapy as the end-all, be-all to every situation, but in this case, I think it would do you a world of good. You need a sounding board, a neutral place from which to bring perspective to this challenging time in your life. You need to find the equlibrium in which you do NOT blame yourself for this (regardless of what others may have said, this was NOT your fault, your friend as someone who had spent years cultivating this "best" friendship with you owed you an explanation of her rejection, she was in the wrong for not being mature enough to return your calls and be honest with you, not the other way around) and in which you don't harp on resenting your friend. You have maybe reached an impasse and although the emptiness will linger, there is light on the other side. There are BILLIONS of other people out there, soo many more potential friends. In that vein, don't focus on what you've lost, focus on what's still out there to gain. This may be difficult to conceptualize right now, but time will be the ultimate (and really only true) healer. I'm sorry you're going through this, I can sooo empathize.
posted by GeniPalm at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2009

Late to the party here, but maybe my story will help.

My dearest and best friend from high school suddenly quit talking to me late in our freshman year at different schools a couple of states from each other. I mean really suddenly. It was AWFUL and heartbreaking and I tried and tried to find out what was wrong, if it was something I said or did. A couple of years later I was riding with friends through my college town and saw her in someone else's front yard -- she had come to visit someone else but not even called me. Crushing. I dropped it all, closed the door on figuring out what had happened, and moved on. Sad that it was over and gone after so much great friendship, but what could I do? I was a bit of a doormat in that relationship, BTW.

Fast forward a few years... out of the blue she called me, with no real explanation for the long, um, break. I was so surprised... I flunked an easy exam that day and got a B in my favorite class. I was overwhelmed. We restarted our friendship (a bit warily on my part). Long story short: she had gone on a trip overseas and been raped. She couldn't deal with her old friends for whatever reason. She had a bunch of superficial friends, many of whom weren't very good friends to her, but I guess they were easier to be with. Our friendship stayed on a certain level for years after that. I had changed -- no more doormat by any means. I wasn't going to put up with any BS after what I'd been through.

Then she and her husband introduced me to my husband. After that, something changed. Maybe it was growing up that helped. The friendship is stronger than ever. We've moved on together. We met at age 9 -- we've been friends for 30 years now! I think now we're both in a place where we recognize the rarity of longstanding friendships. In a way our friendship has been reborn. It really feels like that.

So, your friend is definitely being rude and running away from something. And maybe you deserve it, or maybe you don't. But there may be something else going on, that you have NO idea of, that is causing her to act like a jerk. Let her go, let it lie, and if it's meant to be, she'll come around. It's the death of a friendship, but maybe it can resurrect into something better in the end. I think you can move on for your own sanity, but still hope for that in one corner of your heart with no lingering damage.

Best of luck.
posted by mdiskin at 11:28 AM on March 1, 2009

We were close - the best of friends - through middle and high school. Inseparable, really. She was the one I first came out to. And she was always there for me. I was always there for her too. We knew each other's secrets. And it never mattered what they were. We loved each other in a way that only best friends do.

Graduation came and she joined the Navy. (I went to college nearby.) And that was almost the last we ever saw or heard of her. She wanted nothing to do with any of us. She never provided us with an email address, or a cell phone number, or anything that we could use to get in touch with her. I left messages with her mother for about a year before I realized that her silence wasn't at the request of the military. She had moved on.

She drifted back into my life a handful of times over the years. Once, she arrived in our hometown with her new husband. She had just celebrated her wedding in a city a few hours away, but had neglected to invite anyone (and even some of her family members weren't invited). She stayed with my family for a night because she wasn't on good terms with her family. We didn't know what to talk about. We didn't have anything in common anymore. I was meeting her new husband for the first time - but it mostly just felt like I was meeting her for the first time.

Another few years passed and I moved away from the area where I grew up, settling into my new life across the country. I kept in touch with friends and relatives from back home, from both high school and college. I lost touch with others. And then one day, she emailed me. She was living only a few hours away. Maybe we could get together. Oh. And she was pregnant.

But by then, I had gotten over it. I had stopped thinking about her on her birthday. I had stopped wondering why she had to leave me behind. I had stopped caring. But most importantly, the empty place she left at the banquet table of my life had long ago been filled with new friendships, both short and long lived.

I never responded. It wasn't because I wanted to punish her and hurt her in the same way she hurt me. I didn't have that kind of energy. But I also didn't have the energy to reform the friendship.

Time. It will just take time.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:37 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

HPag, just some sympathy. A friend of mine just stopped answering my texts and IMs. There was no confrontation... she just won't answer me. She went on her merry frakking way and left me to wonder forever whether I did something wrong. I agree... she could have at least told me if I did something wrong or if she just doesn't want to be friends. I'm really sorry your friend did this to you.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:06 PM on March 1, 2009

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