I lost a friend yesterday, and honestly y’all, it is such a relief.
This quote showed up on my Pinterest feed yesterday. Is that really true? What about being friends through thick and thin? What about the friends you grow with? None of the friends I had from childhood are still around. One friend, my best friend, is still with me, and we’ve been friends since high school, but we’ve had our ups and downs—though mostly ups since we’ve both gotten sober. My friend Kathy is also my boss so we’re not as close as we might be otherwise; mostly we talk at work and go discount shopping on Sundays. My friend Spencer stopped talking to me two weeks ago because he wanted more than a friendship, and the feeling is not mutual, so he decided it best to stop talking to me. So we stopped talking, but then he came back a few days ago and asked if we could be friends again. I said sure but knew that it wouldn’t and couldn’t be the same – I’m not going to text him 24/7 about everything under the sun anymore which just wasn’t healthy anyway, and plus I need to focus on other things, like living my life. When I look back on it, he’d showed up right after my mom died and my ex-bf had left me, replacing my ex in that we just talked to each other all the time. I liked the attention. He made me laugh. A similar situation is happening with my friend Kevin who I’d been spending more time with lately, and who confessed he wanted more than a friendship. So now I’m trying to take a step back from both of those friendships, and have decided to seek out more female friendships, specifically from women who aren’t… how do I say this nicely? Crazy and needy like Molly.
Molly, who I’d had plans with to go to the March for Our Lives rally in DC, flaked on me. We were supposed to meet at noon yesterday after a tutoring session that she couldn’t miss because it was the only time her tutor could meet her and she was failing this class. She was nearly in tears about it over the phone the day before so I decided that we didn’t have to meet early as I’d originally wanted to do, and I had told her not to stress out, we’d just go later. So when I called and texted her yesterday and she didn’t answer until 11:30 saying she’d just woken up, had missed her tutoring appointment, had been up all night from anxiety… well. As you might imagine I was pissed.
She said she hadn’t gone to bed until 6:45am. She knows I’m up that early most days, we’ve talked and texted many times at that hour, she could’ve texted me then and said she’d been up all night. But she didn’t, okay fine, but when we talked she went on and on about how she’d let her tutor down, she’d have to call and apologize, she felt bad about it, but she couldn’t beat herself up now, what’s done is done, etc. Um, what about me? And our plan? She barely let me get a word in, but finally I just said look I’m on my way to the metro now, I’m just going by myself and if you want to meet there let me know. Then she keeps talking and I’m like look I’m kinda stressed right now so I’m gonna go ahead and go down there, all in a calm voice because one thing y’all don’t know about me because you’ve never seen me, is that I have a calm demeanor even when I feel anxiety, and most people don’t even know when I’m stressed out. So then she’s like Well it’s good that we’re not going together because I can’t deal with anyone else’s stress, that shit’s contagious and I just cannot deal with it. And she keeps talking as though her words aren’t hurtful to me, as though that would not piss me off, and she goes on about how upset she is that she’s let her tutor down. So I say Look Molly I’m kinda frustrated right now so I’m gonna let you go. And she sounded surprised. Maybe because I’ve allowed her to do this too many times without expressing my frustration. So many times that this particular event was a rare one in which I even made plans with her because she’s so unreliable. If she even gets there, she’s not on time. If it requires her coming to my house or to an AA meeting, forget it. We’re both in AA but we rarely go to meetings together because I learned a long time ago she will most likely flake. There are so many other things I could say right now, but I’ll just say this: she’s been drinking off and on since I met her, and only recently did she admit to me that she relapsed not long ago. I have no idea if she was even sober last night and maybe that’s why she was up all night. I have no idea if she also does drugs. I have no idea what her actual diagnosis is in terms of her mental health because she’s had various diagnoses including borderline personality disorder, which was the most recent one she’d told me about.
After I hung up the phone, pulled into the metro parking lot, looked at my phone I saw she’d sent a lengthy text saying that this was why she’d wanted to make plans earlier (Thursday we’d had trouble getting in touch with each other, and Friday same thing until late… I don’t see how that’s solely my fault). She texted that if I was frustrated with her because I’d changed my mind or didn’t speak up for myself then I should take a look at that. She said that she was upset with me for waiting until the last minute to figure out logistics. Then she wrote that she’d been struggling and I’ve known that, and that cute texts are great but not the same as checking in, and that she’d supported me when I was struggling, and she’d like more support from me, and she needs to take a step back.
Let me tell y’all something.
I’ve confided in Molly maybe twice during the several years of our friendship, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, I was desperate at the time I did break down and confide in her. I rarely confided in her because I didn’t want to be indebted to her because she’s very clingy. When we’d talk on the phone it would be an hour-long conversation, and I’m not big on talking on the phone. She’d want to meet up so we’d make plans and then she’d flake so I didn’t make plans with her that much after a while. Another reason I didn’t confide much in her is that she doesn’t have much to offer in the way of support. She has struggled a lot over the years, and tbh it has been difficult to listen to. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t want to hear about it which made me feel like a horrible person and a terrible friend, but I tried my best. Most of the time she had one drama or another with someone, including her family who disowned her because she was 40 years old and still being taken care of by her parents who paid her rent and bills, because she’s had trouble taking care of herself and she can’t keep a job. She hasn’t been able to stay sober and as I mentioned she has at least one mental illness. More recently she had an ongoing year-long affair with a married man (who’s also an alcoholic and has two little kids), and quite frankly I got tired of hearing about it. She wanted to talk about why they were fighting or how he’d hurt her and I’d be like, He’s married. He is never going to commit to you. That didn’t matter to her.
Why was I friends with this person? What did she have to offer me? What could I offer her that she’d be willing to listen to or take action on?
She made me laugh and she was fun to hang out with. I enjoyed her company. Period. Isn’t that good enough? Or is that enough? And it’s not like there haven’t been times in my life when I was a total train wreck and my best friend stuck by me. I’m sure there were plenty of times she didn’t want to hear my bullshit.
But the thing is, I’ve grown. Molly and I got sober around the same time, and I stayed sober. It’s not like I’m perfect or that I don’t still make mistakes, but at the same time I don’t have room for toxic friendships in my life today. And she was right about some things. I have the opportunity to speak up for myself today, and it’s time I start exercising that. I can choose not to have that kind of friendship. Her comment about my cute texts was just mean. I send my friends inspirational and funny quotes or pictures of animals in order to lift their spirits, and she’s complaining that it’s not the same as checking in. What she means is she doesn’t like that I’m not allowing her to suck and drain the life out of me with her drama. I send those kinds of texts too because I can’t do anything more for her. I cannot solve her problems, I can’t tell her what to do, and I can’t live her life for her, nor do I have time to listen to her bullshit when I’m doing my best to live my own life.
What was I getting out of that friendship? Someone to hang out with and laugh with. But it turns out there are a lot of other people out there I can do that with.
It’s time I learn to stop people-pleasing, set better boundaries, speak my mind, be more direct, and find more friends who are on a similar path as me. And be more independent, not have such codependent relationships.
If that means I need to be alone for a while, then so be it.