I want to tell you about a friend of mine, a woman I’ll call Ellen. I want to share the story of our friendship, which ended about six months ago, because platonic relationships aren’t treated the same way as romantic relationships. When they crumble and fall apart, you can’t really cry on another friend’s shoulder and obsess over what went wrong. No one offers to take you out for drinks or set you up with this other really great girl they know for a rebound friendship. No one will gleefully help you burn the trinkets left behind that remind you of the years you two were friends, or cut all her faces out of your photographs. When a friendship ends, you just have to deal with it…silently, and alone. Unless you have a blog.
I’ll try to make a long story short here. Ellen and I met five or six years ago at a mommy group. Our kids are the same age and they got along well, so Ellen and I got along well. We had so much fun together and had tons in common…except our political parties. Yep, another relationship damaged by the elections of the past couple years. After 2016, we basically just agreed to disagree and not discuss politics. I was fine with that because even though she voted for the candidate I despise, we both still considered ourselves in the Moderate range for our opposing political parties.
2020 was difficult for everyone. But the isolation, cancelled plans, and constant fear caused by the pandemic really hit Ellen hard. Mental health issues that she had struggled with, but was managing, became exacerbated and consuming. Each time we met, it became harder and harder to discuss anything joyful or peaceful. She was spiraling. And then things got worse.
Once the election cycle got fully underway, Ellen decided she needed to “open my eyes” to what was happening in America, and began pressuring me to consume news she was finding on alternative websites. I tried to read the articles and watch the videos, but what she found to be legitimate information, I found to be complete and utter bullshit. Again and again I asked her to stop sending me politically-charged links and articles. She told me that she didn’t want politics to come between us, but it did. One day in August, I replied to one of her “what the government doesn’t want you to know” emails and asked her again to not send me anything further, and I haven’t heard from her since.
We have many mutual friends, so I hear things about her from time to time, and occasionally someone asks me, “When was the last time you and Ellen talked?” I just shrug and say, “It’s been a while.” I’ve only told one person what really happened between us. My best friend and I are penpals, so in my last letter, I spilled everything. In between discussing all the pain Ellen put me through and how angry I was at her, I begged my friend to not think poorly of me. Because while ranting about an ex-lover who dismissed your wishes, tried to pressure you into accepting their beliefs, and then ghosted you when you did not is acceptable and almost expected, ranting about an ex-friend is not. When you bitch about a friend, you just look like a bitch.
Also, I am still trying to figure out how much I should blame myself for what happened. Once I realized she wouldn’t be responding to my email, should I have reached out again? Was there more I could have done to help her with her mental health? Did I abandon her? The answer to all these questions is probably yes, at least to some extent.
But although I miss some aspects of her and of our friendship, overall I realize it was just time for us to let go of one another. For many years we were a positive influence on one another. But I think that if our relationship had continued in any other way, either by ignoring my last email and continuing on with the status quo, or by confronting one another and hashing out our differences (again), then I wouldn’t be sitting here full of warm memories of Ellen. Our friendship ended when it needed to, before either of us turned bitter or resentful toward the other. I’m okay with that.