Mia Freedman has written about killing a friendship that’s toxic, unproductive and painful.
Mine is the flipside of that story – I was the person who was dumped. And years later, I still don’t know why.
We’d been friends for years. I met her – let’s call her Bel – through another mate, and we just seemed to click. Before too long, we were going to lunch together, popping over to each other’s house for episodes of Sex in the City and having long conversations over a lazy glass of ‘fine divine’.
Bel was one of the people I went to for advice, for a giggle, to examine the endless details of a new relationship. I visited her family, and when my mother got cancer, she was one of a handful of friends who visited mum of their own accord. Once, I think she visited the hospital and actually cut mum’s toenails. That, I think you would agree, is REAL friendship.
It’s not like we were joined at the hip, or that we were similar people. Our politics was very different (on the upside, that meant she got on very well with my dad). We worked in different industries, and I was definitely more bleeding heart, except when it came to dogs. Bel was the softie on that front.
Our friendship spanned years, boyfriends, deaths and house moves. Then one day, a mutual friend said casually, as she was saying goodbye, “I’ll see you at the pub on Thursday.”
But I hadn’t been invited to the pub. My Thursday night was a large, vacant space. Bel had organised a gang, and I wasn’t part of it.
I was urged to go anyway, and stupidly, I did. Bel seemed a bit surprised to see me, but the night was otherwise uneventful. We laughed and chatted, and I pretended it had just been an oversight.
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Then it happened again.
This time it was a dinner party – yes, I know, restricted numbers, mixing guests blah blah. But I had been at every dinner party for the past god-knows-how-many years. So I felt a bit perplexed.
And then … nothing. We’d see each other at events we were both invited to, and chat vaguely about nothing that actually mattered. We’d promise to catch up for a drink – “soon”. “Soon” never came.
Eventually, I decided to bring things to a head and ask what I had done wrong. We set up a time for a drink – she was sick at the last minute. A couple of weeks later, I tried again. Thirty minutes before the agreed time, she sent a text to say she was “just buggered, Darl”.