Friday, August 06, 2010

An Update to My Post to A

I have lost two best friends in my life - Rachel and A.  I wrote about Rachel last month or so. You can scroll down and find it. I never really understood fully what happened with her, but there's a lot I left out of that post and after I wrote it, I really thought about it and realized that I didn't care where Rachel was. I was the only person who liked her. Rachel had a lot of serious problems. She had come from an abusive background of religious fanatics and hypocrites. Her family was strewn with mental illness and she had it too. At best Rachel was a narcissistic drama queen. At worst she was self-righteous, ignorant, stubborn and a mooch. It's just that I have an extremely high tolerance for most of these behaviors, so I could handle her and find her good points when others couldn't stand to spend five minutes around her.  I wish Rachel best. I have decided not to worry about what happened to her and where she is. There is much about Rachel that was toxic to me.

But then there is A.

Two summers ago when I was in Iowa, I wrote This Post about A, who was the best friend I had ever had, and how I had completely destroyed our friendship when we were younger because I had behaved inappropriately and had been jealous of her. I absolutely deserve what I got. I wouldn't be friends with me either. At least not the me of back then, over a decade ago now.

I hate that I cannot undo what I did. I hate that I did what I did. Some people who know the whole story tell me it's not as bad as I think it is and that I was not the one who deserved A's full wrath in the situation. At times I can see that point of view, but I hold firm. I did the wrong thing. I deserve what I got, but it just kills me still. I wish I had a time machine and that I could go back in time and force the younger me to stop and reconsider her actions and to do the right thing instead. Back then, I was not well acquainted with the right thing.

You may ask, why are you obsessing over this girl again. Didn't you get it out of your system 2 summers ago? I thought I did.  I took that post and I reworked it into another piece and sent it away. I swore it would get published. My plan was to send A the anthology it was in, but the Universe intervened and the piece was rejected. Maybe this is for the better. Later I realized that if I were A, I would think receiving a published piece about myself in a book was stalkerish and creepy and a violation of privacy. A was always an extremely private person, whereas I may as well be a complete exhibitionist. Believe me, the only reason I'm not detailing exactly what horrible thing I did to A is because I am protecting her privacy and not my own. I'm glad the piece didn't get published and I figured it was a sign. Give it up. I have new friends now. I'm not the same person. Forgive yourself, I said. You learned your lesson.

Then this happened.

At the beginning of the summer (which has flown so quickly) a mutual friend of mine and A's contacted me to tell me he heard the craziest news ever and that I just had to hear it too. A and her husband were expecting and not only were they expecting, their baby was due within a couple weeks of mine! What kind of a coincidence is that? It was outrageous, especially because we had all separately sworn that we would never have children. Now we are having them at the same exact time.

A had put this information on Facebook with some bump pictures and the usual congratulations had ensued.

Facebook had been an issue in the A saga. This is how I know she still harbors extreme hostility towards me. Stupid Facebook. It turns us all into middle schoolers sometimes.

I joined Facebook as my real self a couple months after returning from Iowa, well after I'd written the post about her and it had been rejected and I'd taken that as a sign. The reason I went on Facebook was to keep in touch with relatives scattered all over the country and to share pictures with them. It's been great for that. I feel so much closer to my cousins and I've rekindled old friendships with dear people with whom I had accidentally lost touch. I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to try to contact A or add her as a friend. I have an extreme amount of pride and dignity and I would never, ever humiliate myself like that.

Still, A and I grew up together and have some mutual friends. The very day I joined Facebook, a guy we knew in high school added me as a friend. I didn't add him. He added me. In fact, I hadn't even thought about him at all. He still lives in A's town and is friends with her. He knows all about what happened between us and I guess doesn't care since it didn't involve him. I'm not sure. I had all of about three friends when this happened so I could see on his wall that all of a sudden A's husband started cussing and throwing a fit about something to this mutual friend. The next day the friend deleted me as a friend and I hadn't even said hi to him! The friend sent me a terse email apologizing that adding me had been a mistake and that he had a lot of problems in his life. A and her husband had been very upset when they saw that I had joined Facebook and asked that he not be friends with me so as not to cause them emotional distress or some such nonsense. Then he said that they were making their profiles super private and unsearchable so that I couldn't find them and that they would block me and so would he.

I was deeply insulted. I have never tried to contact these people. I would never try. There is no reason for them to have gotten themselves in such a fit over me being on Facebook. I mean honestly. Basically my response was this: "How old are you people?"  And what I don't understand is that after more than 12 years now, what on  earth could they possibly think I was going to do to them? I don't understand what threat they perceived in me to get so wigged out over me being on Facebook.

But A and I have another mutual friend and this friend is far closer with me than he is with her, so she knew better than to make this request of him. He would have told her where to go. This is the friend who told me A was pregnant. 

It really freaked me out. I don't know why. Maybe it's my insistence on magical thinking and believing that there are no coincidences. I can't quite articulate what it is.

It's just that...we weren't going to have children.  A's husband had been adamant for years that he would never, ever, ever procreate. Do not ask me how I know this. I just do. He had valid reasons I thought.

I believed that I would never have children and I didn't care. I thought my health problems would prevent it and I was scared of pregnancy and all its trappings and I just didn't have that need that some of my girlfriends had to have babies. But see, my husband did and I love this man with all that I am and I knew that he deserved to have a child and that a child should have him as her father. Then there was this incident with my ex-boyfriend and let's just say that because of my ex-boyfriend, I ended up pregnant.  That sounds WAY worse than it really is. Trust me. Oh jeez, I had better digress and tell you because my mother in law will read this and become convinced that the child I'm carrying isn't really her grand-daughter. I'm friends with my ex-boyfriend from many years ago. My husband is too. The Ex-BF hated children and never wanted any and his wife was despondent and wanted a family and basically he got an ultimatum and went ahead and did it for her and now they have a beautiful little boy who changed his life entirely. My Ex-BF is not even the same person as he was before and now he wants more kids. So he and I got to talking about the whole baby having thing and he laid it out for me and said "When you love someone you sacrifice yourself for them and you become a better person for doing it." And he was right and I realized that maybe the whole reason I met him 20 years ago and dated him and stayed friends with him was just so we could get to that moment and he could get me over that impasse of terror I had and help the soul of my daughter incarnate. So anyway, right after that talk we had, somehow a condom ended up tossed under my coffee table and a month later I was puking.

Apparently, at the exact same time, A was doing the exact same thing. I don't know what made her husband reconsider his stance at the exact same time that I reconsidered mine, but it's just awfully strange.

A's husband has a half-assed blog that he updates not nearly often enough. I try not to blog stalk because of the site meter. He has to know it's me. Who else would read from Florida? This is not a popular blog, so it would be pretty easy to figure out when I read. He never really posts anything of great importance on it - just the occasional photo or commentary about something innocuous. He takes a lot of pictures though and has a link to his Flickr in his sidebar and there's where I stalk. I'm so ashamed. I can't help it.

There was A pregnant. There she was sitting on a rock in some yoga position looking very earth mother with her hands on her bump. Then they had taken pictures during an ultrasound and she was smiling. There were tummy and transducer pictures. Last week they posted a picture of her, again standing in a very earthy pose, head down, back-lit and hands cradling her bump. She was in the middle of the under-construction nursery. There were patches of blue paint on the walls as if they were trying to decide on a shade. Does this mean they are having a boy?

Immediately my mind jumped 20 years in the future. Her boy and my girl would end up at the same artsy, liberal college in the Northeast. It would be one of those schools without grades and of course they'd meet up and fall madly in love and eventually they'd have this conversation:

Her: Where are you from?
Him: Riverbank, New York
Her: Oh, my mom lived there when she was a teenager!
Him: My mom has lived there her whole life.
Her: Where did she go to school?
Him: Riverbank Day
Her: How old is your mom?
Him: 56
Her: My mom too! My mom went to that school! They would have been in the same grade!

Then they would add it all up and he would say:

"My mom HATES your mom! My mother thinks your mother is a crazy, white trash whore!!"

Then they would either break up or get married and I'd have to be at the wedding with A and it would be like Romeo and Juliet or something. This would be just my luck.

I never anticipated that A and I would ever have children at the same time. When we were little we used to fantasize about weddings and families and I always said I was going to have a daughter and she always said she'd have a son. I guess we were right. 

Had I even had the capacity to know, back then, back when I did the terrible thing, that we would be pregnant at the exact same time, I like to think it would have made me reconsider my actions.

I am missing out. It makes me sad.

If IT had never happened we could have shared this experience. We could have compared notes and strange symptoms - what freakish things our bodies were doing now. We could have been happy together and scared together and excited together. Now, I can't even congratulate her.

But this is what happens when you don't treat others kindly. There are consequences to your behavior that you can't even imagine. There are hurts you don't anticipate in the throes of your own selfish stupidity.

And now I look at the pictures of her and all I can think is how she's doing it better than I am. She glows and I just feel fat. She paints her nursery while I choke on acid reflux. 


Caelaeno said...

Longtime reader here (I'm just one of those people that is a fail at commenting--shame on me), and I just wanted to add a little bit to your dream/vision/fantasy about your daughter and her son:

Him: My mom HATES your mom! My mother thinks your mother is a crazy, white trash whore!!
Her: WHAT? Bullshit! My mom's great--she's nuts, but she's great! Your mom doesn't know anything.

Not that I think you're really crazy, but every college student thinks their mom is a bit nuts. I speak with authority, as I am a college student...which makes me feel really weird, as I'm a junior now, and I started reading this back in high school. Craaaay-zy.

Anyways. Just remember this: that lady's son may be born into a nursery painted the perfect shade of blue, but your daughter will be born into a family that can teach her to cope with grace with all the weird, the strange and just plain crazy life has to throw at you.

And that, by far, is the more valuable.

Cassandra said...

I haven't read the other post about A - I probably did and have since forgotten. I do however want to give you a little advice/tell a little story of one of my own failed friendships.

Several years ago now I was friends with a lady that lives near me(she still does). However her relationship with her husband and children were not the same as the almost Zen-like peace I prefer in my own home. As an unmedicated bi-polar and a woman with a horrid past of abuse at the the hands of her own father I had some sympathy and was as gentle as I could be with her though I tend to be plain spoken. If she asked me not to call I wouldn't call. Whatever she needed from our friendship she wasn't getting so finally one day as my youngest(who was 3 or 4 at the time) was sleeping on top of me while I messed around on my computer she called and just started cursing me out. It was very shocking to me and unexpected. I had a hard time after that thinking I was a bad friend and I had failed her somehow but finally I just came to the conclusion that sometimes it is better NOT to have certain people in your life.

Whatever you did that made her so very mad at you was a long time ago. If she has continued to feed this canker in her heart over you then SHE is the one suffering for it. Just because she appears to be all earth mother doesn't mean she is. Pictures tend to tell the story we want them to tell.

You need to let this go as it will only bring you strife when what you really need is peace. By all means keep track of her since you care but let the rest go. I think you're doing great with the whole baby/mother deal.

Paige said...

I went through something similar so I totally get this.

Hang in there. Maybe having a baby will change her and let her get over it.

Anonymous said...

Neither of you thought you wanted children, but the biological imperative applies pressure that starts to increase at a exponential rate once you hit your lower-30s. Since you are approximately the same age, it's not all that surprising that you both caved in (as most of us do) at approximately the same amount of pressure.

And don't stress about distant. former friends. Once the baby comes, you won't even be able to believe you used to spend time worrying about stuff like that.

- lowwall

Wide Lawns said...

In an unusual moment of clarity, it just kind of dawned on me that if a person could harbor that much hostility and paranoia for 12 freaking years and throw that big of a fit to a mutual friend about me joining facebook, that maybe, just maybe there's a small chance that I'm not the ONLY asshole in this situation.

And yeah, by the way, I never mentioned that in high school A had sex with my boyfriend and I decided to eventually overlook it and continue with our friendship because even back then, when I was immature and naive and a total jackass, I still had the sense to realize that lifelong friends are more important than boys and that sometimes good people do dumb stuff and that you should forgive them.

So yeah. More than 1 asshole here.

jenni said...

'a' sounds great...until you got to the part about her and her husband making a grown man de-friend you because you did something to her twelve years ago. i admit that i don't know her, nor do i know what you did, but it seems to me that there is something a little off about someone holding a grudge for that long. i mean, how can a person think that a person is the same after an entire decade has passed?
for example, i had a friend in high school that thought i was spreading rumors about her(not true), so she egged my house and put butter under the door handles of my car, wrote that i was a slut on all the windows of my house in shoe polish, etc, etc. of course we weren't friends after that, but i wouldn't freak out if i came across her on facebook--i'd assume she had changed somewhat in the last 10 years.

this rambled on longer than i meant, but the gist is that i have to wonder if you are really missing out when it comes to this friendship. she sounds like the kind of person that has a lot of needless drama in her life.

JoeinVegas said...

Don't worry, she has morning sickness too.

Anonymous said...

Adding my own drama... I had a *best* friend for 20 years. We did everything together, shared secrets, ran a business; we were like sisters. I loved this woman like a sister.

She started using / abusing me around the 10 year mark. I put up with it because of old time's sake. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. The friendship grew toxic. The only way she could feel good about herself was to make me feel lesser. Any successes I had (and there were a few) were downplayed and ridiculed. She was a CT-scan tech; I flew across Canada doing clinical trials. *Of course* her job was *much* more important than mine. She assured me that she made a difference in the world. For the record, I was very humble about what I did and I was part of some ground-breaking discoveries.

I ended it rather suddenly. I took a semi-retirement to play house in the 1800's at a historical museum. She made me feel like shit about it. Enough. No more. I miss her in a way and I wonder if she has regrets. In the five years since I last had contact with her I've gone on to be in the paper and been interviewed for TV numerous times. A course I teach is on YouTube filmed by Tourism Canada. I often wonder what she thinks of that.

Thank you for allowing me to vomit out my own sad friendship story.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me as though there is only ONE asshole now and it's NOT you! Someone else in this story needs to grow up but sometimes for those for whom high school was the best time of their life, they continue to exist at that developmental level. Maybe that's what has happened to her. It sounds as though you have grown and she has not. Kudos to you. I hope that you can put her to rest now. You may have been responsible for something horrible in the past but you are not responsible for her lack of growth or her ability to hold a grudge. She needs to take full responsibility for her current behavior and, as for sleeping with your boyfriend in high school, it seems that perhaps the seeds of what you are seeing now were sprouting back then.

Miss Kitty said...

Just because she appears to be all earth mother doesn't mean she is. Pictures tend to tell the story we want them to tell.

I agree with Cassandra: if A is still mad over a decade later, she is NOT the kind of person you need to be hanging around with. Sounds to me like you really ARE the one who has the better deal going on. And you've dealt/are dealing with your issues; sounds like A hasn't dealt with hers at all.

And of course she's not going to put any puke pics on Facebook. She's probably barfing just as much as you are, or has awful gas, or can't burp after eating that huge Captain D's seafood combo she's been craving, or has hemorrhoids so bad she has to stick a corn cob up her butt to scratch them. Pregnancy is the great equalizer.

Many hugs, WL. You are AWESOME.

Carolyn said...

I have to say this- if a person can not forgive a good friend for a immature mistake after 12 years, they were never a good friend to you. A will have to live with the knowledge that she can't forgive. This will mean she will teach her child not to forgive. A will have to live with that also...and trust me an unforgiving child hurts worse.(i hope that made sense if not forgive me)

JDogg said...

I think you are in a much better place than A, from reading your story.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

She is SO not doing better than you. Forget those stupid yoga pictures. It's easy to make yourself look enviable on Facebook or blogs or whatever. She's clearly more miserable than you since she's still mad about something from years ago. She needs to make peace with the universe or something.

Green said...

Oh Widey! It hurts so much to lose friends. A lot of people were very mean to me growing up, and because of Facebook, because of being able to see where they are now in their lives, I am able to see what they're up to. And you know what I want?

More than an apology, more than a published story about all the social offenses they committed against me, what I want is for them to be nicer now. Even more than that, I want them to raise their children to be nice. To go out in the world and stick up for the child being excluded, sitting alone, whatever. So I think if you raise Baby Lawns to be a genuinely nice girl, you'll have done all you can to atone for whatever past sins you committed against A. Which I'm sure you will, because as you said, you're a different person now.

Alessandra said...

Letting go of some things is really, really hard. Especially when we can only blame ourselves.

When I was younger, someone hurt me quite badly, and left me behind feeling humiliated. For years I hated this person, but in the end I realized I was mostly angry at myself for letting it happen. I took me some years more to do the hardest part, which was forgiving myself.

This story doesn´t have much in common with yours, except one thing: as I see it, growing up means making stupid, bad, ugly decisions. Not always, but frequently. And we have to forgive our younger selves. Not to let them of the hook and say it wasn´t a big deal, just to understand them and have some sympathy. I believe it´s very hard to look back and really see things as they seemed at the time and even harder to see them as they really were.

Yes, A is probably a bit of an asshole, or at least someone with plenty of issues of her own. So forgive yourself: everyone has asshole moments. Yours came and passed. Hers? Who knows?

Ah, and I love your writing. Heh.

SkippyMom said...

Short of 1. killing her family pet on purpose 2. having one of parents incarcerated under false pretense or 3. pantsing her in the school cafeteria during B lunch - no one and I mean NO ONE should hold a grudge this long. And you said she slept with your boyfriend? Nicccce. Actually I would've done number three just to get even. But then again it was HS. jeesh.

You should move on. She obviously can't and never will - why would you even want her in your life now?

Take care and congrats on the baby. :)

mcgrimus said...

You have to ask yourself this: would you be in the same place now had you stayed friends? Maybe going through that experience was a necessary "crucible" to help you grow into the person you are now. The way it happened sucks, sure, but maybe that was the point. You don't gain wisdom from a book.

auronsgirl said...

Forgive yourself for A, even if she will not. At this point, it's petty in the extreme for her or her husband to act this way.

"You're HOW OLD?" is the perfect question for such behavior. Forgive yourself, forgive A for continuing to hold this grudge and then let it go. Let it all go.

Also, she's probably just as sick as you. If it will make you feel better, have WL Husband take a picture of you looking all Earth Mothery and serene. You can look back on it and have a good laugh with your daughter later while you tell her she was the cause of all your acid reflux and suffering. :P

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