We had been inseparable. Shortly after she moved to our area we began sharing a seat on our school bus. We decided together to grow our hair long and to wear maxi-dresses. We had sleepovers, danced to the top 40, went for long bike rides and learned to swim in her pond. She was the one who informed me of the birds and the bees on one of our sleepovers while handing me my first cigarette (which I didn't smoke). Then one day during junior high everything changed. She had recently become a cheerleader and for some odd reason decided she no longer wanted to be my friend. She stopped sitting with me on the bus and no longer talked to me at school. By the end of the week she had convinced our other two friends not to talk to me either. She then started bullying me; making faces at me, calling me names, criticizing my appearance, my family and my every move. Others on the bus joined in her taunting. I retreated to my books and studies. It was during this period I vowed to leave our area and to someday make something of myself.
I would go on to make other friends. My college years were filled with friendships. So were my early twenties where my job at the brokerage firm introduced me to several females who would become my friends. Back when I was 12 and recently dumped I had thought if I ever made another friend (life can seem so limited when you are 12) I would be the world’s best friend. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. My poor communication skills and aversion to conflict caused me to hurt and lose a couple of friends in college. Then life, relocations, marriages, divorces, children, job changes and my return to college in my 30’s all got in the way. I am now sad to say I am no longer in contact with most of my friends from those earlier years. I would like to think if Facebook had been around when I was younger that wouldn’t be the case, but I am not so sure.
The book My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger is a compilation of 35 personal stories of friendships gone astray. Reading these breakup stories has been therapeutic. I still may not understand why my friend turned into a bully, but I no longer feel so alone or that this experience has to be a big dark secret. As I read the stories, I was also reminded of other friends I haven’t thought of in years and can now see in hindsight why they were destined to fail – I had a tendency to make friends with the cool girl. Eventually I would witness a cruel side to this person and immediately move on without letting them know why. Reading this book helped me realize I was most likely reliving my bully friendship over and over then running before I got hurt again. This is also why I am so obsessed with the manager who personally attacked me.
Today my friends are mostly really good acquaintances. The walls I’ve built up are pretty thick and with my busy work schedule making time for friends is usually not high on my priority list. I squeeze them in between hair appointments, workouts, commission deadlines and the end of the month. My current best friend, also an accountant and CPA, was the daughter of Texas shrimpers. Both her parents died of lung cancer at an early age. Neither of us talk much about our past and both of us give each other plenty of breathing room, we seem to understand where each other is coming from without having to discuss it.
As to my best friend from second grade, I looked her up on Facebook a few years back. She stayed in my hometown, married the year we graduated, had three children and now has grandkids. I clicked on her oldest daughter’s Facebook profile. Under favorite books she had written, “None I hate reading.” I wasn't quite sure what to do with that little tidbit except realize if I had remained friends with her mother my life would probably be very different than it is today.
I recommend My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends to anyone who has experienced a friendship breakup.
Do you have a friendship breakup story?
This post was inspired by My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends. I received a free copy of the book for review purposes.
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