I need some advice on a friendship issue. Obviously I can’t go into all the nuance of our 10+ year friendship in this post but I’ll try my best.
My bff and I have been friends for over 10 years. Geez, probably going on 15. It’s been a journey of a friendship. We met in college as reluctant roommates who both need a place to stay near school. We were total opposites. She was dark and mysterious and edgy. I was bubbly and outgoing and kind of a showboat. We connected as we lived together and realized how much we had in common. By the end of school we were great friends. We both got jobs at the same company and ended up very close with a group of friends that all started at the same time. We hung out a lot as a group,and at the same time we had our own lives going on. I had a boyfriend carrying over from college, she broke off a long term relationship and ended up dating someone at work, part of our friend group. I ended up moving out of the country for quite awhile and eventually had a job opportunity back in the US. She decided at the same time to move where I was moving and we decided to be roommate again. It went great. It was somewhere along this time that she was diagnosed with bipolar 2. When i met her she had been manic and was always the life of the party. At this point in time she was starting to deal with waves of depression. She was long distance with her bf and they started having more and more problems as her depression became more intense (he was the kind of guy that was just like “feel better! Stop being so depressed, life is good!”) One night he called me to tell me they broke up and to ask if I would check on her. That night she was suicidal, and I had to check her into the hospital as a preventative measure, on the advice of suicide hotline and with her approval. When she ultimately came out I became a caregiver for her. I hid anything dangerous in the house, I gave her her meds each day, and was the only real person she could lean on. It became really overwhelming for me ultimately, and I told her I needed to step back a bit in terms of the meds and constant caregiving (once she seemed to be doing better). She understood. She ended up leaving the country for a bit for a job and kept her room at our place in the meantime. While she was gone, I met someone, who I got into a serious relationship very quickly after 4-5 years of being single. When she came back, we were practically engaged. She decided to move back home and my bf moved in. She seemed really happy for me and things were good. I ended up moving a couple times with my bf to diff cities for work, and we got married. For a few years we were just off on our own doing stuff. My bff and I would always stay in touch. One of our best traits is that we’ve always been able to stay connected when apart and also have been able to easily not talk for months and then pick right back up. No drama, no hurt feelings.
In all this time, she had moved to Vancouver and then London. I moved to Vancouver, SF, and then back home in LA. When I got back, my marriage ended up blowing up in a spectacular fashion. She was my first call and she was there for me. And I was a mess. To this day I am dealing with it. It’s been about 2.5 years now since it all fucked up. I called her a lot crying. And I apologized all the time for it. To be honest we got really close again because of it. She was the only person I could tell everything to, and I felt understood by. I didn’t have her near me, but she was there to talk. Over the past couple years I have grown a lot. Got back on my feet. Started dating again. I’ve been in a new relationship now for about a year. Internally it’s been a bit of an uphill battle. Trusting again has been really hard and I’ve shared that with her as I’ve embarked on this new relationship. In the last 5 years, she had not chosen to date again. She was very hurt after she broke up with her ex during her depressive state. She’s also moved a lot and dealt with a sexual assault in that time. She had confessed to me though that she really did want to find love again, and that she wanted to work on herself to get there again. I know it’s been a crazy shaky half-decade for both of us but I think not dating is starting to get to her.
Cut to 2 months ago. We both get invited to a wedding of a mutual friend. She dreads it a bit because of not having a date/her ex possibly being there. He isn’t coming, so she starts to get excited. We are excited to hang out and I’m excited for her to actually get to spend some time with my new bf. They briefly met about 6 months in at a movie (not a great place to get to know each other). We show up in the city for the wedding. My bf and I want to immediately explore. We see some stuff and I get in touch with her and we decide to meet on a bridge later in the evening. We get there and I can’t find her and ultimately get a call that they are below the bridge in the water on a boat. Allllright. So we decide we don’t want to wait an hour or so for them to finish, and we head to a bar that we wanted to check out. I invite her and her friends she’s with. They ultimately decide to go somewhere else. I call in the morning and ask if they want to join us on an outdoor excursion. She says no again, not her thing. We plan to meet at the rehearsal drinks later that day. We finally see each other. It’s at this cheesy Mexican themed bar on Cinco de Mayo. Oof. That atmosphere is pretty silly and inauthentic but we enjoy hanging with the wedding party despite the Flamenco guitar player who has turned his speaker up too loud. We talk with her and a couple others telling them about this great bar we know around the corner and that we should all go after the party. We party and drink for a few hours. Around 10 pm we decide we are starving and know a place next door with a great food truck. She comes with us and a couple others. I tell her I think we are going to head to the next bar after this. And she’s starts getting really defensive. “I’m going back” “You better go back too”. I’m like well, “I think the party is winding down anyways... and we want to go check it out as it’s out last night to go out before the wedding.” I can tell she’s seething. It’s not the first time she’s done this although it’s the first time she’s done it to me. “This isn’t your vacation. This is about (bride) and (groom).” Me: “(bff), I’m pretty sure they are all gonna go to bed soon, that bar kinda sucked and we really want to show you this other place...” We continue into the bar with the food truck out back. We are getting in line and I tell her, “look, (boyfriend) wants to see this other place, we really didn’t love that bar, and the night is ending....” She keeps badgering me, and I start getting really sensitive, and I totally throw him under the bus and say, well ask him why he wants to go... (Ugh, I know) I just wanted her off my back. So she starts bugging him about it (lots of tequila has been consumed at this point). He’s like, “Uhhh I don’t know I really hate flamenco music...” And I kid you not, she turns to him and says with all seriousness “Oh! So you are racist against Mexicans!” (She is Mexican). Our jaws drop, my friends with us walk away, and my bf puts his hands up in the air and walks away. Then she really starts going in on me.... I’m in a seated position by the truck and she is standing over me. I can see my bf watching from a picnic table from afar, keeping a close eye on me. She starts going in on how shitty I am for wanting to leave, and nothing I tell her will stop her. I begin to cower, shrink and start to feel some scared feelings bubbling up again. I tell, I don’t know I just sometimes want to do what I want to do... She goes, “Yeah. I know you do. That’s why we haven’t seem each other so much lately.”(WE LIVE IS DIFFERENT COUNTRIES) She has a cruel smile on her face most of the time. I tell her she’s drunk. She insists she’s totally sober. (SHE IS SO DRUNK) She tells me that my boyfriend has a vendetta against her and now she has one against him. Because he stormed off from her, so he must have a vendetta. To be honest I can’t even remember exactly what she kept saying or I did, but I know finally I had a full mental breakdown and was covering my head with my arms and repeating “I just want to go home!” “I just want to go home!” while I cried. My bf runs over and going “What the fuck happened!” He’d never seen me like this. I hadn’t been this way since my ex. He pulls me aside. I’m terrified to “take a side” I’m afraid she’ll keep being mad at me. He’s like babe, seriously what the fuck. He looks back and my bff is sitting at the table with our other friends and he’s sees her smiling and laughing. He loses it. “I’m gonna go talk to her”. He walks up quickly and says “we need to talk”. I’m standing to the side. He starts going in on her, getting in her face, “How the fuck can stand there laughing while your best friend is having a breakdown!”She has a smile on her face, “Oh, ok... yeah sure... you know so much about meeeee.....” He storms off. I’m standing here in the middle of a bar, crying, between my bf and my bff. All I want to do is get away from her. I’d seriously never in 15 years seen this side of her. I told her I was leaving. I walked and found my bf and he was all shaken up. I know he had a visceral reaction to seeing me breaking down. He was like, I probably shouldn’t have yelled at her but I didn’t know what to do.
We went home. I cried. He held me. I stayed up all night, running the events over and over in my head. In the morning I ultimately felt angry. Angry at what she had done over so little. Angry how humiliated i felt introducing my bf to all of them and her. Angry that I knew she must be letting out a shit ton of resentment on me that she never shared. Angry that now my bf was going to be the villain in all this. The one her yelled in her face and used the work “fuck” loudly.
We had to go to this wedding the next day. I text her and told her we needed to talk. She ultimately agreed to meet me. I was running on no sleep, and tight painful stomach and sadness. She immediately apologized to me. She said she had a clear memory of the night. I told some of the things she said and she didn’t remember them. She kept saying “what?” She took responsibility for what she said and did to me. And that she probably had a lot of resentment. Which we did not go into. She was super pissed at my bf for getting in her face. She kept saying “He doesn’t even know anything about me” “He doesn’t know our history”. I was too tired and scared to defend him. I walked away from the talk ok... Ok enough to take a nap and attend the wedding...
The wedding was awkward and uncomfortable. She pranced over to us and gave us both a hug and acted all cheery. I saw him immediately look at her and say “Hey, I’m sorry that I got in your face, I shouldn’t have done it.” I didn’t really see her reaction, I kinda wanted to get away from it, but it was nice to see him take some responsibility for his minor involvement in it. I know he did it mostly for my sake to mend what happened. In his experience with her, she was an asshole, so it’s really the only impression he has of her and I know he wouldn’t apologize to anyone else that would have treated me that way. We got through the wedding. We were seated with everyone from the night before. Luckily the bride and groom and no part in it and we certainly weren’t going to bring any of it to the wedding. But it wasn’t the reunion I’d hoped for and we didn’t really get to enjoy or hang with any of my friends at the wedding, because it just all felt like such bullshit.
I left the next day and over the following weeks I got more and more upset. Neither of us reached out to each other. And I knew the resentment was building inside of me. Part but not all of the reason my marriage exploded so spectacularly was because my ex kept a lot buried inside of him. On top of infidelity and some fucked up childhood memories coming to light, he exploded on me with a ton of resentment all at once about his and our life. Where I thought he was happy and willing to travel around with me and my job, he wasn’t... More and more of this. It’s why he cheated, blah blah blah.... Fucking bullshit. And he let it out ALL AT ONCE. So hence I am scarred by the resentment explosions, and I know it’s why I had a mental breakdown. All of the last couple of years of trusting her with my feelings and secrets, and pain, and apologizing and thanking and then backing off a bit to giver her space. And she unloaded on me... and my boyfriend. To be honest I think she has a lot of anger towards my ex husband and I think she wanted to let some of it out on my new bf. I understand not wanting to deal with someone else pain so much. When she went through her stuff, I did it as long as I could, but then I bowed out gracefully and respectfully and honestly when it became too much and she was more than welcome to do that.
A month later I wrote her an email expressing all of it. I told her i didn’t want to resent her and I wanted to move forward but I was angry about how she treated me and my bf. That I didn’t like the way he dealt with it, but that I didn’t blame him. I told her all the things she said to him that she didn’t remember and that I couldn’t imagine doing the same to her and her bf if I had just met him. That I was embarrassed. That I was done with explosions of resentment and if she needed to tell me something she needs to do it in the moment or let it go. It’s not fair to either of us.
It just was such a painful reminder to not trust. That anyone could be bubbling under the surface ready to unleash on you... I haven’t been a perfect friend, but I’ve always been honest. I know how hard it is to deal with a friend going through trauma. It was ugly. And I feel changed by it. I’m much more deeply affected by things than I used to be.
She did respond shortly after to say she was reading it and wanted time to digest it and think it over and would respond but it may take while. It’s been two months now and I talked to my therapist about it and she thinks it’s passive aggressive. That my friend knows my past and knows I try to fix things and my instinct is to do just that. To make HER feel better. And she might be waiting for that. But I am different now and I am going to stand up for myself. I decided I am not going to follow up again and ask when she is going to respond because it’s either going to be me being angry or me care-giving for her again. It’s on her. It’s scary for me to think maybe we’ve had a bit of a toxic past that I have ignored and it’s been easy to keep our friendship going because it’s mostly long distance. Maybe we have changed. Maybe I have changed and she can’t. Or maybe I suck. I don’t even fucking know anymore.