wellness

'After 30 years of friendship, I've decided to cut off a close friend completely.'

Seven years ago, I discovered that my friend of 30 years was bereft of empathy; or, more accurately as a general description, totally sucked as a friend.

It took me by surprise, because our decades-long history was one of the best things in my life.

Having known each other since Prep school, and through our 20s, we drank, watched each other get degrees, partied, watched each other get married, and celebrated the birth of our kids.

So much fun. So many memories. Just like a sister.

Watch: Surprise celebrity friends. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

But then, in our mid-30s, my dad died suddenly and violently. I was in shock, devastated, and it fundamentally changed my life. My dad’s death was the first major death in my life, and my friend had never lost anyone. I didn’t think that was an excuse for behaving how she did, though; change the topic when I wanted to talk about dad, or outright ignore me in social groups in case my sadness infected her in some way.

There was no 'I love you', 'let’s go do something fun', or 'I’m here for you'; but there was plenty of avoidance.

I found this very confusing, because I knew she loved me. But how could she not show that love at the worst time in my life? And it’s not like I wanted constant attention - just some support, occasionally.

“I’m sad for you that you’re so sad,” she once said when I forced her to answer why she just refused to give me any sort of comfort. I told her directly that her support mattered to me but still, nothing.

Eventually, I reasoned that for some reason she didn’t know how to comfort me. Unlike almost everyone else in my life, she just didn’t know what to say or do – not even the basics.

And so, we moved on.

I was wrong because years later, I see she was choosing not to extend me her friendship.

ADVERTISEMENT

Because grief, when it’s happening to other people, feels scary, forcing you to confront your own fears; and obviously, for my friend, I think it was also boring. After decades of fun together, I had become boring.

I see that clearly now, since my sister died a few months ago. I thought things would be different this time. They aren’t.

My friend has chosen not to write a card, send flowers, tell me she’s sorry for my loss, check in with how I’m doing weeks later, tell me I spoke well at the funeral – nothing. She called in the first couple of weeks, and sent a couple of texts about how unlucky my family is and that she’s sorry for my mum.

And then she just tags me in s**t on Instagram.

It’s not good enough. We are in our mid-40s; I’m tired of putting emotional energy into understanding her silence about the death of one of my oldest friends – my sister.

I can’t believe I’m in this place again after almost a decade.

Literally nothing has changed in seven years; she has not evolved at all. To be honest, I’ve lost respect for her.

A friend should be a source of comfort and support when times are hard. But this friend texted a fortnight ago to ask for my new address on behalf of a mutual friend who wanted to send flowers.

And that’s when it hit me; she knows what to do, but it's like she's determined not to comfort or support me in any way. It's so strange.

It hurts, and I can't keep giving her the benefit of the doubt, when complete strangers have been kinder and more empathetic. Strangers, and people much younger than us who have no experience of grief, get this impact on me better than she does.

The good thing is, I’ve had practise at this. I can do grief without her. I can do grief when she chooses to withdraw herself from my life when it’s too hard or boring for her; when there’s nothing she feels she can get out of the situation.

So I’m okay.

But also, this is it. I'm not investing any further time in someone who refuses to invest in me in my darkest hours.

If that’s the kind of friend she chooses to be to me, she doesn’t deserve me at all. And I’m certainly not hanging around until she needs me in the same way.

Life is too short.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

00:00 / ???