Open Letter to a Friend

Dear You,

While only one friend has actually come out and told me this, I think there exists sufficient evidence that being my friend can be taxing. I am demanding of my friends. I get irritated when they cancel plans. I expect more interaction than some want to provide. I'm bossy, needy, and self-conscious. The list goes on and on. I also like to think I am loyal and true (not to mention downright witty! ha!) If a friend asks me for something, I'll do it. I never forget a birthday. I listen (well, as well as I can - this may not be my best skill now that I think about it).

I don't believe you read my blog, as you've never mentioned it. So this is really just an exercise in catharsis for me and not a piece that I expect anyone to read. I have lots of great friends whom I love dearly, but that doesn't mean that the loss of a single friendship doesn't pain me. It does.

You and I met in the summer of 2000, when you adopted a dog that I was fostering. We kept in touch and eventually we scheduled a double date. We all went out to dinner and had a great time. You and I exchanged frequent emails. We chatted on the phone.

I was excited to find a female friend who seemed like such a good match for me. I thought you were smart and funny, with a bigger heart and a bigger smile than I'll ever have. I also admired your interior design skills and your style in general. And I don't know if I ever told you, but I've always thought you were pretty. (Well, you still are - you know what I mean.)

We did a lot of fun stuff together during those first five years. You even came to Virginia with me one time. That was a road trip to remember (who can forget the drag show in downtown DC?). Over the years we also embarked on several road trips to Indiana, to pick up dogs that needed to come into rescue. We had shopping trips, dinners out, and even a couple of trips to your in-laws' cabin. Yes, you have a tendency to cancel plans but I've tried not to take it too personally (even though I'll admit I've been pretty upset by a few of them - like my daughter's first birthay.) But still, we were close. One time I was telling P that I was tempted to get a tattoo and he said, "Oh, you know you'd never do that without her."

When you were in labor with your first child, I came to the hospital to see you. I was so excited for you. Your mom was there, too. I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my own child, who was scheduled to come to me via adoption a few weeks after your son was born. I told your mom that my baby was on the way, too. Your mom knew nothing of my child's impending arrival. I was truly devastated. You talk to her daily so it just seemed like it would have come up in conversation. I fought back the tears and thought of leaving the hospital rather than to risk spoiling your special day. I sat in the bathroom and tried to regain my composure instead. I guess I've never forgotten it because I never understood why it happened.

You've been there for me lots of times when I've really needed you. When I had my gall bladder surgery, you took my daughter for a couple of days (since P had to work). When I broke my thumb, you drove up and wrapped all of my Christmas gifts. You took my daughter and my niece to the zoo when I couldn't get the day off work. But, you've never allowed me to return any favors. I could've helped when you moved out of the farmhouse. You never called. I've never known when you've needed help.

Our friendship started to decline after the kids came along, I suppose. I work full time and you are a stay-at-home mom. At first I worried that this would divide us and maybe in some way it did . . . eventually, anyway. I think we respected each other's choices, but maybe it just put us on two different wavelengths. A couple of times I mentioned I was disappointed that we didn't chat on the phone anymore. After your daughter was born last year you told me that you don't really like to talk on the phone and that you don't have time to email. Short of telepathy, I wasn't sure how else to keep in touch.

I think you tried to tell me nicely that you didn't care to be friends anymore, but I didn't catch on. I get it now (I've stopped calling and emailing you, lest I make a bigger fool of myself). I am just slow on the uptake sometimes. In the past I've noticed that you find it difficult to tell people how you really feel. I know there have been times when your mother-in-law has offended you, but you haven't been able to tell her. You don't want to be confrontational - I understand that. I assume that's why, when you cancel plans with me, you send me an email instead of calling me on the phone. In some ways you and my husband are alike. He feels strongly that all of his friends will remain his friends even though he never calls them (or returns their calls), emails them, or makes plans with them. I guess I require a little more than that. I believe that friendships, like marriages, need to be cultivated. I need a friend who calls me from time to time and says, "Hey, I was thinking of you and wondered how you are doing?"

Friendships just . . . go away sometimes, I guess. Maybe I was too needy. I don't know. I tried to be a good friend but when it comes right down to it . . . maybe I just truly suck at this sort of thing. You were the first non-relative that I called the day my daughter was born. I thought you were my closest friend. I feel embarrassed that I honestly couldn't see the signs.

I miss you. And despite all of my complaints and whining, I want you to know that I have been grateful for your friendship. I want nothing but good things for you and your family. I guess I just needed some closure, so here it is.


Mary said…
Geez Claudia, you got me crying here. So VERY sorry for what may be a broken relationship. Even though I'm not I feel like that other person to others. But first let me say this, you are loyal from what I know of you. You are outgoing and love what you do (taking in doggies) with about as much passion and compassion than anyone I know. Being that I could be to someone what this person feels like to you I regret losing some friends, it's partially because I'm not that outgoing or got much less so once kids came along. I would like to be with and do more things with these people but health reasons stop me among other things. I think I'm trying to say MAYBE this person has other things in her life stopping her. I am also bad at making plans and keeping them and it's nothing at all to do with that person. It's true friends go away if you don't keep in contact. Don't know if I'm making sense but I'm trying.;) I will say you have been there for me with my dogs for sure. I never think I told you but it meant the world to me that you showed up when I had to say goodbye to my Sam, I know he was your boy too but still.... You were there for me with my Elsie Belle too, these are things I'm sure you know mattered to me. I hope your blog brings some reconciliation instead of closure. As you can see I read your blogs, they usually make me laugh, you are a good and witty writer.;) But I also know as you know there's a lot of saddness in this world to write about too whether it be about animals or people. I wish you well. Mary P.S. If you go for that tatoo I'm there, well, for a really little one cause I'm cheap.;)
Anonymous said…
Hey Claudia, it's Owen's Mom from the BBC May board. I know how you feel and I've been there and done that with a friend of mine that I've been bff's with since I was 11 years old. It got to the point where I was doing all the giving and she was doing all the taking and not even calling me, it was me calling her all the time, and usually letting her know if one of our friends parents had passed away last year. After she didn't call me when her husband had West Nile virus, AND she said that she had only invited CLOSE friends and family to her daughters christening, and I wasn't invited, it was right then and there that I decided that I could no longer be friends with her. Life is TOO short to feel rotten and friendships are relationships and they have to be maintained in order to work. I haven't talked to her in over a year, I removed her number from my cell phone, haven't emailed her and I haven't heard from her. This was a girl who was even in my wedding! Sometimes it's best to let it go instead of beating ourselves up over it. Know that you did everything you could to maintain the friendship and in the end it was HER and not you!

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