I find myself remembering the past, old friends, and things that happened, never happened, and maybe should have happened. I miss an old friend.
When I was younger, I was extremely shy. I still am shy, but I have such developed extroverted skills, no one believes me anymore when I tell them I’m shy. But, when I was younger, I was very shy. Sixth grade, I attracted a very assertive 5th grader as my friend. It worked out well. Opposites attract.
She was the leader. I was the follower.
Even though I lived hard, I was quite naïve, and she often had to explains things to me.
Memory: I was 10 years old and mom had just permed my hair into this crazy afro. I was outside playing with my friends, including my friend. A man in a car pulls up and says to me “Hey, baby, you wanna go smoke some balls?” I said, “No thank you, I don’t do drugs.” My friend, a year younger than me, had to explain to me that he was talking about sex.
Even as we got older, she knew stuff I didn’t.
Memory: I had moved into a house with two guys, when I moved to Seattle, and I’d developed a little crush on one of the guys. She asked me to describe him, so I did. Now this guy is in no way effeminate, quite the opposite. She listened to me, and then, without ever meeting him, told me “he’s gay.” And…she was right. Damn it! Plus, I figured out that I tend to develop crushes on gay men.
Then, she moved away with her family and I joined the Navy. Things change.
Starting to Change
Before I joined the Navy, I remember standing in line in a grocery store. I realized that I was never going to get anywhere in life if I was shy, and in that moment, I started talking. To everyone. About anything. Ad nauseum…
And I started to change…
Then I joined the Navy where I learned the extent of my power. I found out that I was actually fairly intelligent. Who knew? I didn’t, even when I got a %100 on the entrance test. I was allowed to flex, and I flexed.
And I changed even more…
Back to Omaha
She had come back to Omaha to go to college. I got out of the Navy and came back to Omaha to go to college. Of course, she was ahead of me since she’d started earlier than me.
She took the business track. I took a wild variety of classes but ended up in the Philosophy and Religion department.
Most of this time, we weren’t hanging out a lot together. After she graduated, she left Omaha, on her career journey. I stayed in Omaha with a degree that, as far as I knew at the time, was worthless.
Long Distance Friendship
Eventually, we started talking more and even started referring to each other as “best friend”. She visited me and I visited her.
I valued our friendship. But it was also a bit of a source of discomfort. You see, I’m not a follower, not anymore. And we kept falling into old patterns of her leading and me following. It was stifling. And yet, for the friendship, I continued the co-dependent dynamic.
Every so often, she would ask the question “Do you think we would be friends if we met as adults?” I don’t remember ever giving her a decent answer, after all, I was playing the follower. I do think that if we’d met as adults, we would’ve butted heads. It’s hard to have an alpha as a friend when you’re an alpha, especially women. We probably wouldn’t have been friends. We would have irritated each other. The fact that she asked the question told me, she was also thinking about our friendship.
There was a big part of me who just hoped that she would see me for who I was and change her game. I hoped she would see me as an equal. I hoped she would see that I’m not a follower. But I did nothing to try and change the situation. That’s on me.
She wrote these wonderful letters to me. She used language in them that she didn’t normally use when speaking on the phone or in person. It made me think she was changing.
I started thinking about film school, and there is a great one in her area, so I headed down that way to visit with her. My goal was to find out if the letters were true. I wanted to know if things were really changing.
They were not.
They leader/follower dynamic was still there. I felt paralyzed to stand up for myself. I guess that’s what co-dependency is. I just watched her closely. And there were multiple times that my feelings and needs we not considered.
I also know that this is not personal. I also watched her disrespect her mother and another friend down there. It’s just the way she is.
Memory: We were shopping in a cute shopping mall sort of place that had rooms of little shops. I’d found a guitar store, and since I was already stressed about the visit, I stayed there and played guitar. My friend found me, and I overheard the shop lady tell her to take me to this other music store. We left the mall place and continued on. When we got to the music store we stopped. She looked at the music store for a long moment, and then turned and just kept going. It hurt me to realize she really didn’t care about me. Or if she did, her own preferences outweighed any I might have.
The decision was made. I wouldn’t be moving to her area.
Still, I held on. But in reality, I was already grieving the loss of my friend. I didn’t have patience for the dynamic anymore, even if didn’t say anything to her.
Then came that fateful day.
We were talking on the phone. I was having a problem; I don’t even remember what the issue was. She started on the telling me what to do thing, even berating me. This time I fought back, we yelled at each other. I got so upset that she wasn’t listening to me that I started crying and yelled even more. Finally, I hung up on her.
Clearly the phone is not going to be useful in this situation. She’s too good at overpowering me.
So, I took my time and wrote out a long email explaining my position and my boundaries. I sent it to her.
She told me she wasn’t going to have a conversation via email. She wanted a phone call.
I told her I wasn’t going to have a conversation over the phone because clearly that doesn’t work, read the email.
She sent me an email. She spelled out that she only had my best interests at heart and that that’s why she shouldn’t have to change. She tried to guilt me. She tried to deny my boundaries.
This went on for a bit until I realized that things were not going to change. I was not going back to the way things were. In many ways, I had surpassed her, just as in many ways, she surpassed me. We should be equals. No one should be lording over anyone.
I wrote her a card saying I think we should take some time off. This was about a month before Christmas and my birthday.
Then, I got a package in the mail a couple of weeks later, like it was any other time, with presents for my birthday and for Christmas. I became enraged. I felt that she was trying to manipulate me into engaging with her when I’d asked for some time off.
I never opened that package. I have no idea what’s in it. It’s still sitting at work and I have no idea what to do with it. What if there’s an apology letter in it, saying she’s going to change? But I know that’s unlikely. People don’t change unless they see a direct benefit to themselves. I don’t know what to do with it.
I haven’t spoken to her since. It’s been over 2 years.
So, there it stands. I will hold to my boundaries. I miss her, but I’m not going backwards. If I break the impasse, things would be the same, and I don’t want that. I wish she would read this, but I doubt she reads my blog. People tend to not read the blogs of people they see as beneath themselves, and that’s the way I think she sees me. In a way, I doubt she even thinks of me, except maybe to tell a crazy Karin story. She has a lot of those!
She doesn’t even know I’ve moved. And am planning to move out of Seattle next year!
Part of me is holding on. Another part is yearning to be free. I’ve been letting go of many things this year. I’ve been letting go of a community I was a part of. I’ve been letting go of feeling like I have to monitor myself just because I live in an oppressive city.
Maybe it’s time to let go of her too…
Still, I miss her…