How To End Friendship Essay

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I've told this story too many times. To my friends who were there when it happened but wanted to know my perspective, to my parents, to my new high school friends, to my journal, and to my dog. I've told everyone, but somehow I still can’t believe it’s true.

Laura and I first became friends when we were seated together in our fourth grade class. We destroyed our desks writing about pretty much everything except whatever we were supposed to be learning about. We rated the boys we knew on a scale of one to ten, played hangman, and teased each other by drawing ugly faces that we pretended were actually what the other person looked like. Of course, my caricatures couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Laura was one of the prettiest girls in our grade. We had millions of inside jokes, signature looks we exchanged with each other, and special code names for ourselves, and everyone we knew. We were inseparable; even when we had to go home after school, we would talk on the phone for hours, laughing about something stupid our friend had said that day or sharing deep thoughts about growing up. Laura was, and probably is to this day, the most interesting person I've ever known. She could make a fun game out of any situation, like our "boy-o" game where she taught me how to play soccer while impersonating a strict Welsh coach, or the "National Pillow Fight Championships" that we acted out and filmed. She always knew exactly what to say, whether it was a witty comment about something that had just happened, or excellent advice about how I could become friends with the boy I liked. I thought she was perfect. I not only wanted to always be close to her, but also hoped I could someday be just like her.

In March 2007 I made the mistake of checking my email while in a bad mood. There was a trend in our seventh grade class of sending around chain emails. They were annoying, but pretty easy to just delete without reading, so we rarely took any action against them. I opened my email, and saw a message from Laura with a subject line about chain emails. We often complained about them together, so I assumed that she was sending an email asking people to stop. I was correct, but what I saw when I opened the email was not at all what I expected. Under her request for these emails to stop was a list of people who, she claimed, often sent them. She was directly calling people out, hoping that might be more effective than just a general request. As my eyes scrolled down the list, I saw the one word that changed my life forever. That word was my name, Abby. The word seemed to jump out at me from the screen until I was blinded by the letters. My body felt feverish with a combination of shame and rage. How could she include me on that list? I had never forwarded a chain letter, and besides, I was her best friend! How could she humiliate me like that in front of everyone, especially when it wasn't true? Why did she think this was okay?

Barely even looking at the letters I was pounding on my keyboard, I sent a response. I asked why she would put my name on a list like that, and demanded that she name one time I had forwarded a chain email. As I wrote it, I didn't think about consequences, just about how horrible I was feeling. The second I hit send, however, my perspective changed. It was that moment as I clicked the button; the millisecond while the email was sending, but hadn't actually been sent, and I thought maybe I could take it back, maybe the Internet would die and my mistake would be erased from history. To my dismay, the letter reached Laura's computer, and now my future lay in her hands. I walked away, thinking about what I had done, thinking about the fight that would ensue. How did I know we were about to fight? Well let me rewind a little bit. Remember when I was talking about how Laura and I were inseparable, and we had all these amazing times together? That wasn't the full story. Everything I said was true, but only for about half our time as best friends.

Actually, Laura and I fought constantly, and we fought about everything. In fourth grade we fought because I had a crush on John Stamos, and she had a crush on Orlando Bloom. She thought I was copying her, and we didn’t talk for three days. These fights didn’t seem weird to me at all. I thought the fact that we fought so much was proof that we were close enough to care about the little things, and I thought that our ability to always forgive each other was a testament to our friendship’s strength.

Our fights weren’t typical. Instead of spreading rumors or talking trash about each other, we played mind games and calmly warped our perceptions of ourselves. Almost like a mother, Laura would tell me how I’d disappointed her, and point out ways she was handling a situation better than I was. It was complete manipulation, but at the time it felt like friendly advice. As a result, there were never any big events in our fights, nor were there any defining moments when one person had clearly gone over the top. Instead I endured small, subtle moments of degradation and exploitation, slowly corroding my mind for four years. 

Even though it was unlike most of our friends’ fights, our fighting still had a pretty significant pattern. Basically, Laura would get mad about something I did. I would apologize profusely, and then give her space. In a few days, she would forgive me and everything would be back to normal. And then it would happen again. A few years after the big fight I was talking to one of Laura’s friends, and she said something that really struck me. She said, “You know how Laura fights.” And I really do. Laura can convince anyone that he or she is wrong, no matter how right they may be. Laura has a comeback to everything, and the few times that she doesn’t, she simply won’t answer and will instead bring up a new, better point. Laura takes unrelated fights from the past and makes them seem entirely relevant. Laura makes you feel unworthy, but Laura makes you feel like, eventually, she will make you worthy.

So I sent this email, and I patiently prepared for her response. I think I even wrote out a draft of my apology email while I waited. Twenty minutes, then half an hour passed. On AIM, I saw that Laura was online, so I messaged her, asking if she had received my email. She said yes, and that she was very upset about it. I apologized, but she signed off without another word. At school the next day, we had one of our talks. I explained why I did what I did, and she told me why I was wrong. I admitted that I was wrong, and she told me she needed time to get over it. There was no concern at that point in time, and for three days I went about my life as usual, waiting for Laura’s forgiveness. Five days passed, then ten. Laura and I hadn’t spoken at all. I went up to her and asked if she was ready to forgive me. She wasn’t. Despite my years of training, despite my knowledge that in our fights I was always wrong but she would eventually forgive me, I snapped. I started yelling at her, screaming “are you happy now? I never get mad, but now I’m mad too.” I have no idea what I thought I was doing. I could never win a fight with anybody, especially Laura. Who was I to tell her I was mad? How would that get me anywhere? I had to stick with it though: I couldn’t back down now. This had gone too far. Over the next three or four weeks, we varied between ignoring each other, having quick talks about how we felt during lunch or break at school, and having long talks on the phone or over email at night. Nothing was being solved. I pretended like it would be over soon, and I told my mom it was “just another fight,” but I knew it wasn’t. Laura knew it wasn’t. Everybody knew it wasn’t.

My birthday came and passed with no sign of reconciliation. I didn’t have a birthday party just because I didn’t know whether or not I should invite her. About a week after my birthday, Laura called me. I lay down on my bed, prepared for hours of debate, but this conversation was over before I knew it. She told me, very matter-of-factly, that she had forgiven me “as much as [she] ever could.” I remember her words so precisely; she said that we wouldn’t be “enemies,” but that she didn’t think we could ever be best friends again. I stood up in shock, then immediately collapsed back onto my bed, tears streaming down my face, so unsure of what would possibly happen next.

The year continued, and we barely spoke at all. When it ended, she didn’t sign my yearbook, and we made no plans for the summer. But, for some reason, I started fixating on the “we aren’t enemies” part of that infamous phone call. Over the summer, I felt like maybe things would be normal again in eighth grade. The time we were forced to spend apart during this break made me forget about all the time we purposefully didn’t spend together. Her birthday is in August, so I called her that day, expecting hours of conversation. I said “happy birthday!” and she responded “thanks, but I have to go.” Before I could even say good-bye, the phone’s dial tone buzzed in my ear, telling me that she had hung up. That is the moment I finally realized that everything was different, and that I no longer had a best friend.

The next year I was able to find several new friends, but they were all really different from Laura and I never completely felt comfortable with them. This is part of the reason I am only still in touch with one of the girls from this group. In the middle of the year, I found myself wondering if Laura and I would still be friends even if the big fight had never happened. I had originally blamed myself, and assumed that the only reason we weren’t friends anymore was because of how I messed up, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure. Laura had always been a lot more popular than me, but in eighth grade she became part of a really tight knit group of girls and boys that I knew I would never have fit in to. How could we have remained friends then? Laura also started making a lot of personal decisions that I didn’t agree with at the time, and as I heard about her partying, I wondered if she would be doing the same things if I were still in the picture. How could we have remained friends then? Maybe the end of our friendship was already happening, and I merely sped up the process.

Laura and I have a lot of mutual friends now, so, while we don’t make plans to hang out, we still see each other every couple of months. We talk a lot then, just to catch up, and it’s nice, but I can’t imagine us interacting any more than that, as our lives have gone in such different directions over the past few years. As hurt as I was at the time, I’m glad about what happened. It taught me a lot about myself, and it taught me how to be a better friend. I thank Laura for everything she gave me during the time we were friends, and everything that our so-called “break up” allowed me to change.I've told this story too many times. To my friends who were there when it happened but wanted to know my perspective, to my parents, to my new high school friends, to my journal, and to my dog. I've told everyone, but somehow I still can’t believe it’s true.

Laura and I first became friends when we were seated together in our fourth grade class. We destroyed our desks writing about pretty much everything except whatever we were supposed to be learning about. We rated the boys we knew on a scale of one to ten, played hangman, and teased each other by drawing ugly faces that we pretended were actually what the other person looked like. Of course, my caricatures couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Laura was one of the prettiest girls in our grade. We had millions of inside jokes, signature looks we exchanged with each other, and special code names for ourselves, and everyone we knew. We were inseparable; even when we had to go home after school, we would talk on the phone for hours, laughing about something stupid our friend had said that day or sharing deep thoughts about growing up. Laura was, and probably is to this day, the most interesting person I've ever known. She could make a fun game out of any situation, like our "boy-o" game where she taught me how to play soccer while impersonating a strict Welsh coach, or the "National Pillow Fight Championships" that we acted out and filmed. She always knew exactly what to say, whether it was a witty comment about something that had just happened, or excellent advice about how I could become friends with the boy I liked. I thought she was perfect. I not only wanted to always be close to her, but also hoped I could someday be just like her.

In March 2007 I made the mistake of checking my email while in a bad mood. There was a trend in our seventh grade class of sending around chain emails. They were annoying, but pretty easy to just delete without reading, so we rarely took any action against them. I opened my email, and saw a message from Laura with a subject line about chain emails. We often complained about them together, so I assumed that she was sending an email asking people to stop. I was correct, but what I saw when I opened the email was not at all what I expected. Under her request for these emails to stop was a list of people who, she claimed, often sent them. She was directly calling people out, hoping that might be more effective than just a general request. As my eyes scrolled down the list, I saw the one word that changed my life forever. That word was my name, Abby. The word seemed to jump out at me from the screen until I was blinded by the letters. My body felt feverish with a combination of shame and rage. How could she include me on that list? I had never forwarded a chain letter, and besides, I was her best friend! How could she humiliate me like that in front of everyone, especially when it wasn't true? Why did she think this was okay?

Barely even looking at the letters I was pounding on my keyboard, I sent a response. I asked why she would put my name on a list like that, and demanded that she name one time I had forwarded a chain email. As I wrote it, I didn't think about consequences, just about how horrible I was feeling. The second I hit send, however, my perspective changed. It was that moment as I clicked the button; the millisecond while the email was sending, but hadn't actually been sent, and I thought maybe I could take it back, maybe the Internet would die and my mistake would be erased from history. To my dismay, the letter reached Laura's computer, and now my future lay in her hands. I walked away, thinking about what I had done, thinking about the fight that would ensue. How did I know we were about to fight? Well let me rewind a little bit. Remember when I was talking about how Laura and I were inseparable, and we had all these amazing times together? That wasn't the full story. Everything I said was true, but only for about half our time as best friends.

Actually, Laura and I fought constantly, and we fought about everything. In fourth grade we fought because I had a crush on John Stamos, and she had a crush on Orlando Bloom. She thought I was copying her, and we didn’t talk for three days. These fights didn’t seem weird to me at all. I thought the fact that we fought so much was proof that we were close enough to care about the little things, and I thought that our ability to always forgive each other was a testament to our friendship’s strength.

Our fights weren’t typical. Instead of spreading rumors or talking trash about each other, we played mind games and calmly warped our perceptions of ourselves. Almost like a mother, Laura would tell me how I’d disappointed her, and point out ways she was handling a situation better than I was. It was complete manipulation, but at the time it felt like friendly advice. As a result, there were never any big events in our fights, nor were there any defining moments when one person had clearly gone over the top. Instead I endured small, subtle moments of degradation and exploitation, slowly corroding my mind for four years. 

Even though it was unlike most of our friends’ fights, our fighting still had a pretty significant pattern. Basically, Laura would get mad about something I did. I would apologize profusely, and then give her space. In a few days, she would forgive me and everything would be back to normal. And then it would happen again. A few years after the big fight I was talking to one of Laura’s friends, and she said something that really struck me. She said, “You know how Laura fights.” And I really do. Laura can convince anyone that he or she is wrong, no matter how right they may be. Laura has a comeback to everything, and the few times that she doesn’t, she simply won’t answer and will instead bring up a new, better point. Laura takes unrelated fights from the past and makes them seem entirely relevant. Laura makes you feel unworthy, but Laura makes you feel like, eventually, she will make you worthy.

So I sent this email, and I patiently prepared for her response. I think I even wrote out a draft of my apology email while I waited. Twenty minutes, then half an hour passed. On AIM, I saw that Laura was online, so I messaged her, asking if she had received my email. She said yes, and that she was very upset about it. I apologized, but she signed off without another word. At school the next day, we had one of our talks. I explained why I did what I did, and she told me why I was wrong. I admitted that I was wrong, and she told me she needed time to get over it. There was no concern at that point in time, and for three days I went about my life as usual, waiting for Laura’s forgiveness. Five days passed, then ten. Laura and I hadn’t spoken at all. I went up to her and asked if she was ready to forgive me. She wasn’t. Despite my years of training, despite my knowledge that in our fights I was always wrong but she would eventually forgive me, I snapped. I started yelling at her, screaming “are you happy now? I never get mad, but now I’m mad too.” I have no idea what I thought I was doing. I could never win a fight with anybody, especially Laura. Who was I to tell her I was mad? How would that get me anywhere? I had to stick with it though: I couldn’t back down now. This had gone too far. Over the next three or four weeks, we varied between ignoring each other, having quick talks about how we felt during lunch or break at school, and having long talks on the phone or over email at night. Nothing was being solved. I pretended like it would be over soon, and I told my mom it was “just another fight,” but I knew it wasn’t. Laura knew it wasn’t. Everybody knew it wasn’t.

My birthday came and passed with no sign of reconciliation. I didn’t have a birthday party just because I didn’t know whether or not I should invite her. About a week after my birthday, Laura called me. I lay down on my bed, prepared for hours of debate, but this conversation was over before I knew it. She told me, very matter-of-factly, that she had forgiven me “as much as [she] ever could.” I remember her words so precisely; she said that we wouldn’t be “enemies,” but that she didn’t think we could ever be best friends again. I stood up in shock, then immediately collapsed back onto my bed, tears streaming down my face, so unsure of what would possibly happen next.

The year continued, and we barely spoke at all. When it ended, she didn’t sign my yearbook, and we made no plans for the summer. But, for some reason, I started fixating on the “we aren’t enemies” part of that infamous phone call. Over the summer, I felt like maybe things would be normal again in eighth grade. The time we were forced to spend apart during this break made me forget about all the time we purposefully didn’t spend together. Her birthday is in August, so I called her that day, expecting hours of conversation. I said “happy birthday!” and she responded “thanks, but I have to go.” Before I could even say good-bye, the phone’s dial tone buzzed in my ear, telling me that she had hung up. That is the moment I finally realized that everything was different, and that I no longer had a best friend.

The next year I was able to find several new friends, but they were all really different from Laura and I never completely felt comfortable with them. This is part of the reason I am only still in touch with one of the girls from this group. In the middle of the year, I found myself wondering if Laura and I would still be friends even if the big fight had never happened. I had originally blamed myself, and assumed that the only reason we weren’t friends anymore was because of how I messed up, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure. Laura had always been a lot more popular than me, but in eighth grade she became part of a really tight knit group of girls and boys that I knew I would never have fit in to. How could we have remained friends then? Laura also started making a lot of personal decisions that I didn’t agree with at the time, and as I heard about her partying, I wondered if she would be doing the same things if I were still in the picture. How could we have remained friends then? Maybe the end of our friendship was already happening, and I merely sped up the process.

Laura and I have a lot of mutual friends now, so, while we don’t make plans to hang out, we still see each other every couple of months. We talk a lot then, just to catch up, and it’s nice, but I can’t imagine us interacting any more than that, as our lives have gone in such different directions over the past few years. As hurt as I was at the time, I’m glad about what happened. It taught me a lot about myself, and it taught me how to be a better friend. I thank Laura for everything she gave me during the time we were friends, and everything that our so-called “break up” allowed me to change.


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