Why Can’t We Be Friends?

red_coatSometimes, I sit at the computer and the prose flows smoothly from my fingertips to the keys and onto the crisp white virtual paper.

Today? Not so much. There is something I want to write about and nothing witty or even vaguely literary is coming to mind, probably because the subject is sad.

I’ve lost a friend . . .willingly.

Friendship was never easy for me. I’m more comfortable doing most of the things I like to do alone. Shopping, nature walks, even eating out, are all far more relaxing when I do them alone. But I know friendships are important, especially for those of us with neurodiversities. Even the Mayo Clinic says so.

We all have different kinds of friendships and, though I don’t have a horde of friends, I have my share of the various varieties. I have “cup of coffee” friends, “your daughter and my daughter are best friends” friends, work friends, school friends, “husband’s friends that are now my friends, too” friends, and a sister, which is kind of like a friend on steroids with a side of crazy.

And, until recently, I had a best friend.

Our relationship was built on mutual recognition of a kindred soul. No shared work, school, kid or husband connection—just two women who met and instantly ignited. It was intense, so intense that it could be both engaging and frightening for others to witness. It was a source of great comfort and joy for both of us for a long time.

Until it wasn’t anymore. It became a source of pain for me. I couldn’t change, didn’t want to change, and the relationship couldn’t change. It became toxic. Being mentally well meant refusing to swallow the poison anymore.

Ending the friendship is the right thing, right now. That I have to keep reminding myself is the greatest evidence I have that it had become destructive. And, even though I precipitated the break, I grieve over the loss of something that was so dear.

Have you ever had to end a friendship? Share your story in the comments.

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12 responses to “Why Can’t We Be Friends?

  1. Thanks. I think the decision was easier than the aftermath. She is, understandably, angry. I’m just sad. But it’s been so helpful to get clarity on the relationships, so I’m letting that pull me forward.

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  2. I have sometimes distanced myself from people who brought out the worst in me. But the friendship breakup that hurt the most was when my friend rejected me for being who I was. We had been close as our boys grew up, but when I tried to share something of meaning to me, she dropped me. I tried reaching out but to no avail. I still see her around our small town sometimes, and we are cordial. But we will never have the close friendship we had enjoyed years ago. Still, I don’t regret sharing who I really am. It’s the only way to have a friendship that is authentic.

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    • Thank you for weighing in, Mary. I think this is a taboo subject, but one I wanted to bring up. As I’m sure you know, I have had a difficult time with relationships and I’m convinced my mental condition is partly responsible for my penchant for finding people who need me more than I need them. It can be so easy to stay in a toxic relationship when you aren’t neurodiverse. Add to that the fact that I’ve got a few friends who are also “crazy.”

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  3. I am SO sorry about what has been happening with your former friend. I understand your great sorrow about the situation. Forgive me for this is a lengthy comment; your post is inspiring me to spill the beans!

    The topic of ceasing a friendship has been on my mind a lot over the past year. Yes. A year. While my situation is different – my friendship wasn’t with a longtime best friend, but with someone who *seemed* and acted like she would become my best friend.

    Our friendship started out strong. She approached me to be friends, and I flew into it despite my inner voice telling me I was making a mistake of some kind. Our friendship fell apart when we each experienced a crisis. For me, unlike for her, my crisis was life-or-death. In the summer of 2013 I relapsed with bipolar depression & I was hospitalized for 3 weeks & had ECT. She didn’t send me a card or call me.

    In her case, she had a short-term crisis that she resolved fairly quickly.
    She doesn’t suffer with mental illness, which also separates me from her. Ever since my hospital discharge, I’ve hinted in different ways that I didn’t want to stay in touch. It’s my fault I haven’t been crystal clear with her – I know that. In any case, she didn’t get the message. I’m not sure where to go from here.

    Last week I bought a new Kindle anthology called “My Other Ex” that I hoped would somehow help me to better navigate my unsettling feelings about my wanting to end the friendship once & for all:
    http://www.amazon.com/My-Other-Ex-Stories-Leaving-ebook/dp/B00MX2IJ3S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411676425&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Other+Ex

    There’s also another book coming out next year “Dumped – Women Unfriending Women” that I’m interested in reading:
    http://www.amazon.com/Dumped-Women-Unfriending-Nina-Gaby/dp/1631529544/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411676520&sr=1-1&keywords=Dumped

    Thank you so much for writing abut this sensitive topic so well – I appreciate your candor. I believe that ending a friendship resembles a death in a way, and (sorry to use an old adage) it will get easier with time.

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    • I had hoped this would start a conversation, so don’t apologize for sharing your story. I think that there is a lot of pressure in our society to make and keep friends. For those of us with issues trusting ourselves, who need affirmation, it is only too easy to hang on to any friendship. Realizing how unhappy this friendship made me was a long time coming. Many couldn’t believe how tolerant I was of pretty quixotic and self-involved behavior. I will definitely miss her humor and support, but I won’t miss watching everything I say and do to avoid hurting her feelings are making her angry.

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      • Thank you so much for your kind, inviting reply! I am very proud of you for being proactive – it takes *guts* to do that.

        I look forward to reading every one of your upcoming posts! :))
        have a good weekend, Dyane

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