Sometimes we have toxic people in our lives. People we think are friends but really, they aren’t. And usually it’s best to get those people out of lives before their toxicity really enters our system and does significant, possibly irreparable, damage.
I had a friend like that. I guess you could call her a friend. We spent time together. We even went on a two week vacation together. And looking back, I remember that while I was a really good friend to her, I can’t think of a single time when she was actually a good friend to me.
At first, I just noticed that she did odd, insensitive things. Like she’d park in the handicapped accessible parking spots at work (we worked together). She had a parking pass because her son had a disability, but her son wasn’t coming to work with her. One day, my best friend (who also worked at the same place), who has a disability couldn’t get an accessible parking spot because this woman was taking up a spot she didn’t need. That’s kind of douchey. But she really seemed puzzled about why it was douchey.
And she would routinely ask me if she could have half my lunch. Like she wouldn’t bring her own lunch, so she’d ask for half of mine. Not, “can I borrow some cash for lunch, I’ll pay you back tomorrow,” or “Would you mind picking me up something if you’re going out?” No, “Can I have half your lunch?”
Then she started to make comments about my weight. Not totally bitchy comments, but kind of unwelcome ones. Well, truly, any comment on my weight is pretty much unwelcome. I’m one of those people who doesn’t want others to acknowledge weight loss or anything. But just little digs about how I wasn’t in very good shape and how we should be gym buddies. And then we took a volleyball skills and drills class together. I’ve been playing volleyball since high school — on the school team. I’m nowhere close to professional, but I know how to play. The class we were taking was her introduction to volleyball. And within a week she was telling me about everything I was doing wrong.
Then we went to Europe together. And while I wouldn’t give up that trip, that’s when things got very annoying. She gave me a hard time for bringing a real suitcase (as opposed to just a carry on) and then proceeded to pack most of her stuff into my suitcase because she didn’t have room in the small carry on she had brought. She made more comments about my weight. She asked me why I didn’t get lip augmentation and whether I’d ever considered having a procedure to deal with the scars around my mouth. I didn’t know I had scars around my mouth until she mentioned it. Had I thought of plastic surgery or liposuction or other surgery to deal with my weight?
I think I kept making excuses for her, because she had some really bad things happen to her. Her youngest son was born very premature and while he ended up fine, he has some physical disability as a result. Then a few years later her husband was stung by a bee, and has been in a vegetative state in a hospital ever since (about 10 years now). I stayed up all night with her at the hospital and supported her in every way I could. I wouldn’t wish what she had gone through on anyone.
And yet. Many people (myself included) have gone through and are going through horrible things, and they manage not to be douchebags to their friends when it’s happening. Or if they slip up and do something bitchy, they acknowledge it and apologize. That’s what friends do. That’s not what she did.
I really should have broken up with her. And I sort of did. But not really. I just stopped talking to her. I just didn’t call or email or invite her to play volleyball or anything. And she hasn’t tried to get in touch with me either. She lives in my neighbourhood. A short walk away. And we just don’t talk anymore. And that’s for the best.
We were supposed to share our hardest break up story. This wasn’t a hard break up. It was a hard friendship, but the break up just happened. The thing is, I’ve been so lucky — in my life I’ve been surrounded by wonderful friends. Really amazing, good people. I’ve never really felt the need to break up with a friend. With some friends, we’ve grown apart and maybe don’t keep in touch as much as we used to, but I still know that they would have my back in an instant if necessary, and I know the same about them.
So this wasn’t a hard break up, it was my only break up.