Evelyn was a tricky friend for me. She was the alpha dog and I was the little bitch. I let her be the alpha dog because she had more money, less body fat and naturally curly hair. She had confidence, and spirituality, and a Volvo. Oh, and she had a husband and gorgeous children. I lived alone on the Gold Coast and spent my time speed dating and watching The Gilmore Girls.
In other words, I was the perfect little bitch.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day, I was done. I was tired of being afraid of her. The constant what if she’s mad at me? no longer seemed like a question that should guide my every motive. I got tired of using the same old measuring stick: she’s best and I am somewhere (way) short of that.
It was a Sunday, and I was sitting in my office. She’d left a voicemail that I felt scared to check. I had a feeling I would be “in trouble” with her– I had committed a great betrayal. I had gotten a life. Deep inside I was scared that the foundation of our relationship would crumble if I wasn’t a mess. But I was less willing or able to play poor pathetic girl for anyone. It didn’t fit anymore.
I steeled myself as I pressed my voicemail code. I held that final number, a 2, extra long to forestall having to hear her angry voice. When I heard it, all edges and sharp corners, I sucked my breath in sharply and felt that familiar churning in my stomach. It seems like you . . . I hung up. I didn’t want to hear it. I knew I wouldn’t call back to apologize for whatever it was I had done this time. She didn’t like my therapist or my other friends. Our common ground had shrunk so small that there was no longer room for my feet.
I didn’t want to have to be a mess to earn love anymore.
Of course there was love and amazing memories in the relationship as well. Those were real. I’d limped to her dozens of times– hands full of woe and heart full of brokenness– but I just couldn’t be afraid of the people I call my “friends” anymore. I was (and am) willing to be afraid of strangers, but not friends. Not like that.
Sometimes it feels like a failure that Evelyn and I are no longer friends. Our quiet break-up wasn’t my last friendship death, but it was one of the first I experienced as an adult– the first whose death certificate cites the cause of death as “I walked away” instead of “natural causes.”
It’s weird how I never expected all my boyfriends to last– and thank God Almighty that they didn’t– but I do think that friendships are supposed to last. Like forever. Or I did. Until Evelyn and I broke up.