A long time ago, I wrote a post about cutting a friend out of your life. In Fiji, there is a name for doing this. It’s called Friendcutting. As in, I friendcutted his sorry ass.
I wrote it in a way that was for the cutter, not the cuttee. To encourage folks that yes, it’s ok to cut a friend out if they are being a shitty friend. But what about when you’re the shitty friend? And you get cut out? What’s that like?
The short answer? It sucks, dudes. It sucks bad.
I’m not talking about drifting apart in a mutual fashion, or when someone moves away and you don’t talk to them quite as much as you used to. I am talking about a conscious, intentional decision. They don’t want you as a friend. They have decided. They don’t tell you they have decided. They just stop calling you. This has happened to me three major times in my life.
First of all, I guess I should say that I am most definitely a friend-person. The place that friendships occupy in my life is near the very center. I define myself in terms of the company I keep and how much love I have, related to me or not. My parents are my parents, but they are also dear friends. Nordic Boy is so for sure my friend. Also, Biogirl is my family, and so are my other dear friends. Close friend or family, it’s really one unit in my mind. I acknowledge that not everyone sees friendship in this way. Perhaps that’s part of my problem, but we won’t go there.
I have friends that I have known since we were both sporting the Huggies. I have high school friends, and dance school friends, and college friends. I have friends from every job I have ever had. I have neighbor friends. I have coworker friends. I have ex-boyfriend friends. I have blog friends (hi you guys!). This is not to brag about how many friends I have. I’m just trying to say that I am not one to leave people behind. If you’re my friend, I cherish you. I’m in it for the long haul. I’m not fair weather.
I remember the first time I consciously went AWOL on a friend of mine. I am not proud of it, but I did it. It was a college friend: Megan. In our late teens and early 20s Megan and I had whooped it up. Then, something changed for Megan. She had a lot of things going on, and I tried to be there for her. I tried to make her laugh when she was down, and she told me that was insensitive. I tried to call her when she needed me, but she would tell me that she wanted to be alone. When I left her alone, she said that I was never there for her. When something good happened to me, she told me it made her feel worse about her life. When I was sad, she told me I was being a drag. I could not win. Finally, I realized (oh, youth, when it took me years to realize crap like this) that perhaps the shitty friend was not the Man in the Mirror. I remember it hit me, right in the face, and it was a SHOCKER, and I am not even being sarcastic. Maybe Megan was the shitty friend? Say WUT?
Picture me, slapping myself on the forehead in realization, in a “gee I coulda had a V-8!” sort of way.
Here’s the part I am not proud of. I had called Megan this one time, and she made all sorts of pronouncements about all the things I could never do right, and I remember so clearly thinking “I am never ever calling you again.” And after I hung up, that’s exactly what happened. I never called Megan again. I just dropped off the face of the earth and didn’t return any of her phone calls, or emails (we by this time lived on opposite coasts so I never ran into her at parties). No “peace out!” Nothing. I may have sent her a holiday card or a birthday card for a couple of years after that, but other than that, I ratcheted that mess down from full-on friendship to lukewarm acquaintance. I still had the audacity to sign her birthday cards “xxoo” like we were still in friend-love, but clearly, I was out of there. See ya, sucker.
I try to think of this situation when friends of mine disappear on me. You might think this would make me feel worse because that would mean that I am the Megan, a terrible friend who someone just can’t frigging stand anymore. But no. In my way (I am nothing if not a glass-half-full kind of lady), it makes me think that the dropper is too scared to tell me, the droppee, that they just don’t want to hang anymore. I could have tried to fix things with Megan, but I didn’t. I put in no effort to communicate with her about what I thought was ailing the friendship. That was my responsibility and I didn’t do it. I was the coward there, not her.
At the time I knew Megan, I had never had a friend drop me like that before, so I didn’t really know what that would feel like. Soon after, I got my first taste. This time, it was my friend Kayla. I didn’t know there was anything wrong between Kayla and me. And I would like to flag that sentence. I didn’t know there was anything wrong between Kayla and me. The reason I am flagging? Because this is a MAJOR CHARACTER FLAW OF MINE. If you don’t tell me or show me you are troubled? I always assume you are fine. If you seem happy, I believe you. This is because I grew up in the land of Midwest Bigmouths, where people tell you their troubles whether you want to know or not. No one is politely hiding that shit behind a genteel veneer of courteousness. If someone has a problem with you, you will KNOW. I have tried to get better about reading people who aren’t so good at that, especially because Seattle is renowned for its genteel veneer of courteousness, but so far, I still suck at it. Anyway, so Kayla had been acting the way that she always had, and so I was going along, tra la la, we are friends, and then bam. She was gone. This time, I got a hold of her and asked her about it, and with some coaxing, she told me what was wrong. And turns out, I was being a shitty friend. In my own defense, I did not realize this and had she told me what she needed from me a long time ago, I would have been able to be a better friend. But now, it was too late. She was over it, I was so ten minutes ago, and flush. Down the toilet I went, our friendship with it.
Since then, I have been cut out two more times by people I thought would be in my life for my whole life. Each time broke my heart worse than the last. The number of them that don’t hurt when I think about them? Goose egg, baby.
So now that I have been on this super awesome train wreck three times in my adult life, I feel like I have a lot of things about it figured out.
1. The genteel veneer of courteousness is like a foreign language that I am starting to learn, but so far my level of understanding is on par with only being able to say the phrase “donde esta la biblioteca” while traveling in the middle of Barcelona without a map and what I really need is to go number 2 really badly but I don’t know how to say that and all I can ask for is the damn biblioteca. I continue to try to study this language but it is slow going. I at least can tell my friends that I suck at this though, so they are appropriately warned, so that is something.
2. I try really way hard to be a good friend. I think I try harder than most. Sometimes though, I just don’t cut it. So I get cut. Sometimes trying just isn’t even the point. Getting cut is just the way it bes sometimes.
Ok, maybe that’s it. I haven’t learned a lot of things. I have apparently only learned two things. Which is better than no things, but still. It’s kind of a shit sandwich and I wish I could say I have learned a bit more that just two things. I know more about Kim Kardashian’s upcoming nuptials than I do about dealing with losing a friend. (a) She is marrying someone really tall. (b) Her sister wants her to get a prenup. (c) His name is Chris something. There. Three things. Whereas traumatic life experience? Only two things. That’s really very distressing.
Wait. Maybe I have a third thing. I am hesitant about the third thing, because I am not sure it’s right. But Ima say it anyway. When I get cut, I just let the person go. Like almost immediately. Because if you don’t want me around, who am I to argue? It’s your choice. It’s like in a romantic relationship, if someone wants to leave, isn’t trying to talk them into staying, well…pathetic? I feel like there is a possibility that I am supposed to Make a Stand in these types of situations. Is that how people do? They Make a Stand? Or Fight for the Friendship? People aren’t acting all dramatic like that, are they? That’s what I am asking you, blog friends. Am I being a bad cuttee? Am I supposed to be hanging on to someone’s leg while they try to walk out the door? Because I have never done that, and I am just realizing, after train wreck number three, that maybe I should have been doing that. But if that’s true, I just don’t know if I have it in me. I just don’t know if I am cut from leg-hanging cloth. I am much more a “hey, still love you, I’ll be over here. If you want to call me up, I will always take the call, but I’m not going to call you and have you hang up on my ass over and over again” kind of lady. But is that what we’re supposed to do for love these days? Because if so, I have been doing it all wrong.
I just don’t want to go through train wreck number four, you guys. I am getting too old for this shit. I am Dear Abbying you. If someone friend-cuts you, let go or no?