'My friend went to therapy, then broke up with me. She wrote a letter telling me why.'

As told to Polly Taylor 

It was when the third voice note in as many weeks had gone un-listened to that I began to get a churning feeling in the pit of my stomach.

My best friend Tracy* and I had been communicating via voice message since the start of the first COVID lockdown. Fitting in a call felt impossible around working remotely, home-schooling our kids, and trying to stay sane.

So even though we're both in our mid-forties, we started doing what the 'kids' do - leaving each other voice messages on our daily walks. It was a chance to vent, freak out, and generally update each other on our news (not that there was much during the pandemic), without the pressure of finding a mutually convenient time for a phone call.

Watch: The Mamamia team share their relationship deal-breakers. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I looked forward to receiving her voice messages, and I looked forward to replying to them while I got my daily hit of fresh air and exercise.

They were a constant amid the chaos.

But now, she wasn't responding. In fact, she wasn't even listening to the messages. I could tell by the little grey ticks still showing on WhatsApp.


I'd tried a regular text too.

"No pressure to listen lovely, nothing more than the usual rants, just checking you're okay."

No reply. 

I knew she'd been struggling mentally, feeling depressed and anxious about the state of the world, same as the rest of us. She'd even started seeing a therapist via Zoom. But I thought our regular communication had been as helpful and reassuring for her as it was for me.

"It's so unlike her," I said to my husband Pete after a month of no contact.

"Everyone's struggling right now," he said. "Maybe she's just not up to chatting."

I supposed he might be right.

Then, a week later, there was a letter in the mailbox. It was handwritten and clearly hand-delivered, as it simply said Grace* on the front. It was Tracy's handwriting.

I truly didn't know what to think as I held the envelope in my hands. Maybe it was bad news she didn't want to deliver by voice note or text. But surely then she'd just call? Unless it was really bad news and she wasn't up to speaking at all? 

Either way, a handwritten letter was so unexpected and gave me such a sense of foreboding that I went back into my unit to make a coffee and sit down at the kitchen table before opening it.

I read it in absolute disbelief.

Dear Grace,

I'm sorry I haven't been in touch. As you know, I've been struggling mentally for a while now, but I'm pleased to say the therapy is really helping.


It's really allowing me to identify the areas of my life I'm not happy with and the relationships that are no longer serving me...

It went on to say that she believed her friendship with me - all 10 years of it - was toxic. She called me self-obsessed, self-indulgent, and insensitive.

She said while she'd been going through her divorce, I'd constantly talked about how in love I was with my new partner (had I?) and that when her eldest child had been bullied at school, I'd minimised the experience, by saying my eldest had gone through the same thing and was now doing fine. I thought that had been a helpful comment!

I felt sick to my stomach as I read two full pages of all the ways I'd failed her as a friend. She said the final straw had been our voice messages - it had 'given her the time to digest just how much I talk about myself and how little interest I have in her life'.

Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the extra tension that occurs between friends when we can't see them. Post continues below.

She ended the letter by telling me she'd been learning about the importance of boundaries for the sake of her mental health and she felt it was better if we cut communication completely. 

I can't even begin to describe how hurt I felt. Had I really been such a terrible friend, all those years? I remembered Tracy coming over for dinners and crying on my shoulder almost weekly in the early stages of her divorce. Yes, I'd just started seeing Pete, who I was clearly besotted with, but did that really negate all the support I'd given her?


And when her daughter was being bullied, I'd even offered to go to the school with her if she wanted to speak to the principal in person. I was trying to be reassuring, not dismissive, when telling her my own child's problems had resolved.

I cried all morning. Later I decided to try one last-ditch attempt at salvaging the friendship.

I wrote her a text message, telling her I'd received her letter, and thought it was worth talking it through, either on the phone, or on a socially distanced walk. 

But when I hit send, the message wouldn't go through. I'd been blocked. 

It felt like I'd been punched in the gut.

I've spoken to other friends since, asked them to tell me honestly if any of what Tracy said rings true with them. To my relief, they've told me I'm a lovely, supportive friend.

I'm not angry at Tracy. Just hurt. Heartbroken, in fact.

I wrote a letter back telling her that while I struggle to understand her decision; I respect it.

And I told her if she ever needs me, I'm here. I really mean it.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature Image: Getty.