Flipping through my latest issue of Chatelaine I came across an article titled A Bitter Aftertaste, written by a Ms. Claire Worth (pseudonym) regarding a friend who she’d grown apart from… a friend who seemed to be constantly negative, backstabbing and insulting. I was glued to every word because this sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?
In conclusion Worth decided not to respond to anymore e-mails or phone calls from this friend. She’d had enough of pretending that they were in fact friends at all, and thus just stopped responding to her. I think this is a sign. This is the third article I’ve read in the last couple months to do with what my sister likes to call “toxic friends”, that just happen to drop squarely in my reading vicinity. I should be the one writing the master of all toxic friend articles, because mine is the Queen Bee of toxicity.
Worth even said she’d stuck around so long with this friend because she’d known her since grade 9. Another striking similarity! This was becoming more and more like my own. So in essence it was loyalty, or a lack of knowing how to escape, that kept her in there. Ding ding ding.
I can’t remember the last time I took the initiative to call my friend. The only times I can think of are when I’ve sporadically returned her calls to me. I’ve been home a month and I haven’t talked to nor seen her around. I sense that she’s bitter about it, but thinking that she could be mad cuts me about as much as who Brody Jenner’s boning: hardly enough to care.
There’s one point in the article where the author talks about having gone to her friend’s house to visit and telling her that an article she had written made front page and that her editor compared her to Tom Wolfe. The phone rang, so her friend disappeared inside and didn’t come out for a long time, so Worth went in to check on her and overheard her on the phone to the mystery caller saying, “She thinks she’s Tom Wolfe. Can you believe it?” Huh. Kind of reminds me of that time my friend and I were on vacation and when I wasn’t around she was discussing, arrogantly and judgmentally, the low points in my life and the struggles that I’d had to her other friend who was traveling with us. I never expressed a desire for people I don’t know to be made aware of my financial struggles or any other struggle I’ve been through, but she still took it upon herself to make that call on my behalf. Kind of like how she took me aside to talk about her friend when her friend wasn’t around. The ultimate backstabber who demands respect and goes off on rants when she doesn’t get it. She thinks she’s entitled to the very things she lacks in giving to those around her.
An old friend of mine committed suicide just before we had gone away on this vacation and I guess my groveling was getting under her skin because she had the nerve to tell me, “Well it’s not like you were that close to him.” Well I’m not that close to her either. Does that mean I shouldn’t cry and grieve if anything were to happen to her? She does nothing but badger people and nag at them, and pick fights with them over things they’re not even aware they’ve done wrong. And I’m inconveniencing her because I’m expressing sadness over a loss? She inconveniences me every day that she complains about someone or something because she’s making me miserable by association. I like to think I’m a pretty happy person around my friends. I have a right to bad days and complaining as much as anybody else, but nobody takes the cake when it comes to misery quite as well as she does. But I’d guess she wouldn’t want to talk about that, because she doesn’t like to hear about her own flaws… just likes to talk about everybody else’s.
She’s an emotional bully. She has to intimidate and control in order to keep people around. I’m just tired of being one of them. And like Worth, I question why I even bother with her. All my other friends question why I haven’t shoved her off. My family asks me why I haven’t. I’ve been wanting to for years. She doesn’t add anything positive to my life. She’s always there in the time of need; I’ll give her that. She’s never hesitated to be there when I need support, like when my ex and I broke up. Or when my dad was in the hospital. But then later on when you might hit a bumpy patch, she loves to bring that up… like she makes herself into some kind of martyr, constantly reminding you of the things she’s done for you, but forgetting all that you’ve done for her that’s equal to it. And besides, every time I get in to a dispute with someone, I don’t feel the need to say, “Yeah well I loaned you $50.” I don’t need to remind people of the things I do for them unless they accuse me of not doing anything for them, because chances are they remember. I already know I’m a good person. I have the reminder from everyone around me who tells me so. I think the only people who have to continually validate themselves by telling everyone else how good they are, are the ones who are trying to believe it.
I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t feel close to her. We don’t have anything in common. We don’t have anything to talk about. I don’t trust her because she never keeps anything between us, and she’s constantly telling people things about me that I don’t want out there in the open. That bond we had 12 years ago isn’t there anymore. We’ve grown into two different people. To answer everyone who asks me why I haven’t gotten rid of her: it’s just not an easy thing for me to flat out tell someone I just don’t want to be friends anymore. How do you delicately say it? You can’t. They’ll be upset with you no matter how you say it. It’s convenient that she hasn’t touched base with me, because it means I don’t have to do anything.
But these articles are a clear indication to me that I need to have a backbone when she does things to upset me. I don’t want to be like Worth and just run away. In the future if we connect again, I want to be able to say to her the things I’m thinking. She intimidates me, but I don’t want to allow her to anymore. I’m almost 26. It’s time to grow up and defend myself. If I don’t want toxic friends, I need to say it out loud.