Processing this 6 year long friendship.

When we first met my B was just a few weeks old.  We met at a pizza buffet and she asked to hold him, while I went up, I declined, she laughed about this remembering it for years.  I was struck by how beautiful she was, how much more beautiful than her sister, whom I met her through.  I was a very very superficial, mean person then.

She was like this mature, supermodel, spiritual angel to me, she guided me through my meanness and helped me be a litttttle bit nicer to people.  She shared with me about how she bought people’s groceries.  I was amazed by all she did and she really turned me on to the art of kindness.  She was a democrat, she went door to door knocking.  We bonded over politics.

I made her laugh like nobody’s business because my meanness was so entertaining.  My bitch factor was so high that the shock value of things I said and stories I told her brought lots of laughter.  After a night of drinking & eating nutella crepes I “bumped into” a parked car with  my car.  Funny stuff.  She was astounded at my hilarity and it made me keep being meaner and meaner and funnier and funnier.  But also when not being mean, she did bring out some hidden nice inside me.

Hanging out with her was easy.  She was in a place of quiet isolation, she didn’t take care of herself the way she said she’d used to, though I thought she was beautiful.  She was inspired by my frequent working out, by the immense effort I put into my appearance.  She always said she used to be like me but lost her ambition for life after having her last child (few months before we met.)  Said I gave her hope, because if I could have children and work, and find time to workout and put on makeup and get dressed nicely, maybe she could too.  Sure.  A friendship was born.  Nourished, fed, grew.

The first few years of our friendship were based on her looking up to me in a superficial way and me looking up to her in a spiritual/kindness way.  When I moved, it seemed devastating to her, though I welcomed the space in our friendship.  She had become a pretty needy friend, and I had walked with her to get to that point every step of the way.  She wanted to be very involved very frequently, always wanting more.  More time, more dinners together, more getaways, more more more.  I enabled this by always going along with it though it tired me out.  This was when our mutually codependent tendencies really exploded.

I didn’t know words could do so much.  The words changed.  The neediness changed.  The responsibilities changed.  The responsibilities CHANGED.  It became my responsibility to respond to everything, to stay on top of many minute details of her life.  If Tuesday her son had drum lessons and on Tuesday I asked her what she was up to, she’d have an annoyed tone when telling me “Every Tuesday we have drum lessons” chuckle: “that’s never changed!” If she was having lunch with her mom and I didn’t ask about it, “Well, I don’t know if you remembered but I had lunch with my mom- did you not want to hear about it?”  These things wouldn’t bother everyone.  They may seem like nothing.  But they added up.  I allowed them to effect me, to give me this sense of responsibility….

Somehow I took it upon myself that I was a bad friend for 1. moving and 2. not being totally on top of her life.  I allowed it to be my fault that she missed me too much.  We talked on the phone nearly every day, and nearly every conversation consisted of how much she missed me.  Not in a casual “I miss you, friend” kind of way, but in a “I have a hole in my heart because I don’t get to see you enough- I wish every day I could see you and we could just have lunch together and TALK” kind of way.  Weren’t we talking?  Wasn’t that enough?  It wasn’t.  And it built up in me to give me this illogical sense of guilt.  Guilt for not sitting in her living room every few days, guilt for PUTTING that hole in her heart that she often told me about.  I was always apologizing, always trying to relate, though I couldn’t truly relate.  I didn’t miss her like that, and it was okay with me.  I thought we were friends, best friends even, but I didn’t feel like my heart was shattered because I moved 6 hours away.

So these phone conversations went on for several weeks after I moved, until one big one happened.

See, she was in a really unhealthy marriage.  An abusive one.  One where love and respect did not flow in either direction.  She was such a GOOD person on the outside, but in this one category, she was broken and lost.  One day I pulled into my garage in my house, in another state.  She said on the phone that something had happened, that she was away for work and a work acquaintance (who works for another company) asked her to come to his hotel room and … eeeee!  What did I think??

Very sadly and regrettably, I didn’t miss a beat- remember that I was the wild friend, the atheist mean girl, go wild friend between the two of us– I said DO IT!  Go and see what happens!  Whatever happens happens!

Yup.  She “took my advice.”  To this day she still maintains that if I hadn’t said that she probably wouldn’t have done it.  But with  my encouragement in the back of her mind, she did go to his hotel room, she did have sex with him, she allowed him deep into her heart, he romanced her the way a true player does- a chronically and compulsively unfaithful man, and a wounded, broken woman looking for fulfillment and some kind words and a gentle touch.  Her first affair was born.  He stayed with her and burrowed deep into hear heart.

I heard every detail and at first, it was fun.  I asked for more details.  I reveled in it.  I too was in a very unhealthy marriage and it brought me some unlikely HOPE to hear that she could be enjoyed and seen by another man.  I dreamed of going outside of my  marriage as well.

So our relationship became very much based on her telling me about her affair, the extreme ups and downs- the downs were overwhelmingly too much to bear for her at times.  I listened and tried (far too hard) to fix her problems for her.  Always giving advice, always trying to rescue her from her pain, always being on her side, whether he was wonderful that day or horrible.  Always avoiding the hard, painful truths of the  matter.  She thought they were soul mates, and he let her believe they could some day be together.  My life was boring in comparison, and so we really didn’t talk much about me.  Everything came to revolve around her affair.

Until…

Almost year after her affair began, I found out about my husband’s unfaithfulness.  This killed me.  Broke my heart and ruined me.  In the very best way (looking back), but at the time, unbearably, horribly painful.  This changed everything and ultimately is what brought me to faith in my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God let me be broken beyond repair so that HE could put me back together how he knew I should be- in a way that would honor Him.

Still, things were horrible.  As H would trickle out one painful bit of information, of reality, at a time, I would die, torn in half over and over.  And I would cry on the phone telling her and she would commiserate with me about how horrible men could be and how horrible MY husband had been.  One would think that a sensitive, generous soul like her would taper off on her own lies and cheating, as she heard my heartbreak over my own.

Still, often within the same conversation, I would have to hear about her upcoming rendezvous, how she wishes she could see her lover more, how she recently had a “close call” with her husband seeing their email exchanges, how she worried that her husband knew.

These things went deep and puzzled me greatly.  Over the course of about one year, on three separate occasions, I asked her to shield me from her affair, sharing with her that it brought back my pain, that I was trying to heal (all of which she knew because I was sharing everything with her), and it was like tearing my healing wounds open to hear about how and in what ways she had to deceive her husband, the intricacies of her sexcapades in work-paid-for hotel rooms, parking lots, etc.  This was not kind of her to put onto me, and it was my own fault for taking it, for allowing her to go on and on, for not putting an end to it sooner.  Like any abusive or controlling relationship, this became a very painful, controlling friendship.

If I tried to evade the topic, she would remind me that she has an “update,” as in, additional details on her next romp with the other man.  (And later, a second other man came into the picture.)  After I’d ask her to please not mention things to me, she sometimes would wait one phone conversation and then jump right back there “I know you don’t want to hear about this but I just have to tell you…” and I’d sit there like an incompetent lump and TAKE IT.  Or, “uhhh, feeling so sad today because I heard a song that K said was special to him blah blah blah…. wait, that’s ok to say about him, right?”  AND… I’d take it.

It was like a compulsion.  And I was like the beaten wife who just sat there and took it.  Like an idiot.  I maintain that my drinking shielded me from not only the pain and unkindness that she was throwing my way multiple times per week, every week, but also from the ability to find my own strength.

I look back and see that clearly, I trained her to treat me that way in initially asking about it and being into it, and then allowing it even after I asked for it to stop.

She sometimes reminded me that she “wonders if” she would have done anything with him if I hadn’t encouraged her that first time.

When I first started to get sober in the 2 month fog, I was withdrawn from her.  I read Codependent No More and could see her and I throughout the book.  I knew our relationship was unhealthy but didn’t have the strength to deal with it head on, so I withdrew.  She loved this I think, as it gave her all the more room to go on and on about her (now a different) obsession/could-be lover.

The last straw was when she asked me if she should kiss him.  No, I said.  You should get divorced if you need to kiss other men.  Thanks, she said….

Then she brought it up again on the phone, that *just so I know*, she was considering kissing him.  OKAY………… she knows my buttons and revels in pressing them.  Except they’re not just random annoyance buttons.  The buttons of infidelity destroy marriage, break hearts, change lives.  My lack of tolerance to hear consistently about her wandering heart hurt me, and she refused to respect that, she refused to respect ME in that very big, very important way.

We haven’t spoke in a several weeks and I’m feeling a weight lifted off me.  I told her about my drinking, and then about how hurtful it has been to not respect my requests to leave me out of her infidelities.  She responded days later that she was so very hurt and yes- needed some space, and that *she* had always supported me unconditionally.  Okay.  I am breathing through the twinges of resentment.  I do forgive this girl.  She is spiritually sick, her heart and soul are ill- and because I totally recognize that, I can not fault her for her lack of respect, compassion, or kindness.  I simply have to accept that when we are hurt, we hurt others.  She was hurt.  Hurt by disappointment in her marriage, hurt by not being with the man she fell in love with, and later, hurt that her best friend didn’t want to hear about it.  I do forgive her but it does still sting sometimes.  I imagine that time will heal.

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