friendship

"I feel so sorry for myself." My best friend slept with my guy. And sued me.

When I wrote this title I chuckled. If you knew me now, you wouldn’t think it’s possible I lived through that. I’m now a reasonably fit woman in the mid-thirties, head over heels in love with my husband of many years and our beautiful daughter, I’m devoted to my career as a qualified holistic nutritionist and I have a very close circle of friends which I trust and adore.

But my life was very different as a teenager, and even more in my twenties when I left home and went to University.

It all started with a sort of blind date organised by my parents, and one day I met this gorgeous girl that I was meant to share my apartment and life with, during uni. As I was dealing with my own self-esteem issues, and back then I didn’t think I was good enough, I couldn’t believe the luck of having such an angel to share my experiences with.

We got along like house on fire from the very first second, although in hindsight red flags were popping out everywhere from our very first encounter.

Long story short, she was a narcissist in the making with daddy issues, and I was the daughter of a narcissist hoping to save the world; we were the perfect fit for all the wrong reasons.

We started hanging out together, we shared the rent, never-ending coffees, and packets of cigarettes, we danced until dawn 5 nights out of seven, and we spent hours singing, dancing and shopping. It was pure bliss.

The problems started appearing when she started faking her Uni’s results, as she stopped going to classes and I had to cover for her (sometimes I passed exams under her name, and it is worth noting we were studying for two completely different degrees); short afterward, she entered a depressive and it’s-all-about-me phase, where she would lay on our couch and complain all day, and she would turn bubbly and happy again at night.

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Pity is that I wasn’t allowed to have other friends or to stay at home to study, as I wouldn’t hear the end of it. Everything had to be on her terms, or she would become passive-aggressive and, even worse, silent.

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We spent three years under the same roof, and our toxic relationship started deteriorating after the first six months together when I understood it wasn’t fair, and I needed to get out of it. She was psychologically abusive, sad, and extremely funny and beautiful; she would act as a comedian in front of everyone, and as a demon when it was just the two of us. I started feeling scared around her, as I never knew what to expect.

I remember that one night I had to be at a function, and she promised to come along to support me; two minutes before I was about to leave the house, and while our driver was already waiting downstairs, she went into the bathroom and washed her hair; I looked at her in disbelief, and she smiled back. She used to do random things like that, regularly. One summer I even went to Australia to spend some time away from her…and she followed.

Problem is, I kept bottling everything up and dumping my demons onto the people that cared about me.

And yes, she slept with the guy I lost my head over; he wasn’t the usual random Joe, he meant A LOT to me. I don’t want to justify him but he was famous, extremely popular, super charismatic and we didn’t know each other very well.

One night, under my roof, after a long weekend spent partying and drinking, he was approached, in my bed (while I fell asleep on the couch) by my “friend”. When he told me what happened the next day I was in denial, I simply didn’t get it; I couldn’t believe she was slowly chipping away everything I had, even him. We even spent the next day together as I couldn’t see the truth, as if my brain was lobotomised. And after that she acted super casually, sharing all the sordid bits of their hidden (from me) relationship they had. And I didn’t say a word…

Looking back, I feel so sorry for that younger version of myself.

After that first guy, she went for all the others I lay my eyes on, and if they didn’t respond to her flirting (which involved walking around the apartment in a bikini, in the middle of winter), she would put them down and told me I was a loser to go after them. And I believed her.

The last straw happened 2 years after she slept with “my” guy, when I woke up in the middle of a stinking hot summer day and I walked to the kitchen to make myself a coffee. I found her staring out of the window, with closed curtains, in a dark room filled with smoke, and she whispered the following words “I’m unhappy because of you”.

Don’t be deceived! She was still defined as the most glamorous and funniest girl in town, she was as beautiful as a Vogue model, rich as the heiress that she was, and NOTHING was missing in her life, except for mental sanity.

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I stayed by her side, we went through a lot, and I kept pushing through my pain to save her, to bring her the joy she couldn’t see.

That’s when it dawned on me. I had f**ked up. I had given 2 years of my best life to an ungrateful human that betrayed me in the most sordid ways, stole my clothes, left me alone in the hell of bulimia (she actually blamed me for it, as it was boring), pushed all my friends away, dragged me down with the most mean words and there I was, once again, taking the blame.

I left that day, and I felt such a huge relief that my world immediately shifted; what came after that moment were years of obvious uncertainty, but of much joy made of deep, meaningful and real relationships, and wonderful achievements. I started living again as if someone had cured the cancer that was slowing eating my flesh and my soul.

The day that I left, she called her dad’s lawyer and found a way to make me pay for an extra 12 months of rent for the contract we (wrongly) signed together. It must have been such a pitiful victory, making me pay for abandoning her.

How sad. I never looked behind, although I saw her walking in the street one month later while I was holidaying with my group of girls in Ibiza. She was there sitting at a dinner table with another girl, staring at the empty space surrounding her, smoking a cigarette in silence. I felt butterflies in my stomach, I became white and I stopped breathing, and I run away.

I was such a baby back then, as I still felt sorry for seeing her so miserable and alone.

I wish I could meet her again today, as I would thank her from the bottom of my heart for challenging me to the core, and for allowing me to become the person that I am.

Now I don’t take shit from anyone, and I have worked greatly on my self-esteem.

I have learnt to love myself and to trust and love people, as not everyone is as sad and miserable as she is.

She has also made me realise that my daughter could encounter someone so deceivingly beautiful in her life, and I will teach her everything she needs to know about acceptance, kindness, self-love, and strength.

In hindsight, she was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, but it took me a long time, and lots of anger filled runs to see it that way.

This story originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. For more from Claudia, you can find her here.

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Tags: features , friendships , toxic-freindship
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