A few years ago, I said goodbye to a friendship.
Her offenses had been piling up for years. As they occurred, they didn't seem bad enough to justify a confrontation, a difficult conversation. Over time, all these things added together became a lot to carry. I would often contemplate bringing them up to her, but I never did.
Then came the straw which broke the camel's back. I was visiting her in a city where she lived, that I didn't know well, and where I knew no one. We were out at a bar with two of her guy friends (she had known these guys for about three months). She decided she wasn't having a good time at the bar, so she left--without telling me. It was two or three in the morning, and I was about three or four drinks in. I panicked when I realized she was gone, assuming the worst. Eventually, I checked my cell phone, and saw a text from her, letting me know that she had gone to a different bar.
I didn't know how to get to that bar. Fortunately, her guy friends helped me find it. But I was scared and upset. I didn't know them, didn't trust them, and felt that the person that I did know and trust had abandoned me.
I felt then, and still feel, that she put me in a situation where my personal safety was in jeopardy. I'm a big believer in the buddy system. I have had close friends wind up in life-threatening situations by separating from girlfriends at bars, and going off with guys they did not know well.
I flipped out. Though my friend didn't want me to be upset at her, she made it clear that she was not sorry about what she had done. "I didn't leave you alone," she said, "I left you with my friends. And I texted you."
At that point, I realized I could not be friends with her anymore.
I said goodbye to the friendship, but I didn't actually say goodbye to her. I just stopped speaking to her. She reached out once, and told me to call her. I didn't.
Years have gone by and I still think of her often. Sometimes in dreams, sometimes awake. I think of our many times together, and things we used to talk about. Despite the shortcomings of our friendship, there was a reason it existed. She is funny, smart and interesting person. She is strong in her likes and dislikes, many of which are far outside the mainstream. She is unapologetically herself. She will not bend herself into a pretzel to please other people. I admired these things about her. Some of them are probably also what did us in, in the end.
I don't regret the end of our friendship. Things have a breaking point. But I still find myself wondering if things could have been different. Maybe it wouldn't have blown up when it did, if only I had been more communicative about things that bothered me for years, rather than holding them inside and letting them fester. Or maybe it would have been different if she had tried to make amends, earnestly attempting to understand where I was coming from, and demonstrating that she cared about me and our friendship.
But none of this happened.
It's coming up on three years since we last spoke.
I sometimes contemplate reaching out, writing her an email. But I'm not sure what it would accomplish. I don't really want to reignite the friendship. I have nothing left to give. And beyond the issues which split us apart, which were obviously enough to do so, now the silence itself is also wedged between us.
I think of the old saying, "Let sleeping dogs lie."
My best friend suggested that the reason I still grapple with this is because I never got closure.
Maybe I don't seek closure because I avoid difficult conversations, and this would be one of them.
"Let's talk about why we don't want to be friends anymore. Tell me about everything wrong with me, and I will tell you about everything wrong with you, and then we will never talk again."
And maybe part of me is afraid that having this conversation would rekindle a friendship, that seeing and/or communicating with her would reignite all of the things that contributed to our long and involved friendship in the first place. A friendship which, though its loss haunts me, I know I am better off without.
It's out of fear, perhaps, that I don't seek closure. Fear of the process of seeking closure, and fear of the result of the seeking.
Fear can protect us from doing painful things, but sometimes we need to experience painful things to move forward to a place of greater peace.
I guess my MO to this point has been hoping that, eventually, this will just fade away. I don't grapple with it daily. And even when I do, it's not something shockingly painful. It's occasional soreness that keeps coming back, like an old injury that lets you know it's about to rain.
But so far it hasn't faded at all, in the three years I've been hoping it would. If anything, it seems even more persistent as time goes on. Maybe it's because my anger has faded in this time. Maybe it's because the initial relief of ending a badly-functioning relationship has worn off. Maybe it's because love for another human being eventually outlasts all other emotions.
I know what my choices are. I can keep hoping this will eventually resolve itself and fade away, or I can take action and hope to find some resolve or closure in that way.
If I act, I might find that it would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie.
But if I don't wake them, I will never know.