This is something on my mind, I have discussed it with my counsellor (and then was annoyed i’d wasted a £35 session on this), also with family to some extent but there is never the time to get all my thoughts out so I thought I’ll write it out on here in case it helps me. I think I know what I want to do (never speak to this friend again unless I have to for some reason) but just would like a sanity check (I don’t have much left). Any comments/advice welcome.
I’m 40. I was part of a large friendship group at college (age 16-18) and there was a girl on the outside of the group who was lonely, We got talking once and she was a bit weird but interesting, I helped her become part of the group and often tried to make her feel more confident within the group, introducing her to people etc.
When we left college I fell out of contact with everyone just because I and they were growing up. I got married to my husband and this girl was the only one I remained in contact with from school/college (we had also come from the same high school but I hadnt known who she was then). That was mainly down to her as she kept contacting me and I always responded but if she had let the communication stop I probably would have done too.
My husband and I would support her with a lot of advice about various situations and she would come over for tea. Sometimes we went to festivals together. She told me it made her feel more lonely when I came with my husband (she never had a proper relationship and lives with her parents) so sometimes i just used to go with her to try and be a good friend as she said she had no other friends to go with. We also went to a few minibreaks together which I usually dreaded because her and I are not similar type of people and I find i have to look after her a lot as she is very unpredictable.
Once we had a big falling out at a pub quiz because she gave me an ultimatum that i needed to choose between her or my husband because she thought i shouldnt have brought him along (even though i’d asked here before hand if it was OK). Of course I chose him (no contest) and thought we’d never speak again but after a year she apologised and said i was her best friend and she missed me etc so we started to socialise again, Sometimes with my husband (who had more patience for her than I did actually) and sometimes just the two of us. In the last 5 years I probably only actually met up with her six times a year or so but she would text me weekly for advice and sometimes phone when she was upset due to family arguments (usually i’d actually think her family member was in the right and explain that to her gently, she does have a low anger threshold). She’s not the kind of friend you can rely on but she is sometimes fun and she does try hard at being a friend sometimes but she lacks social awareness and I think that is why she doesnt really have any friends except for me (she calls me her best friend despite we hardly see each other).
When my husband died, I only told her a week or so later as I knew I would have to comfort her and I didn’t feel up to it. When I phoned her I had to be really calm and try hard not to cry to avoid her freaking out. I told her to sit down as she did start freaking out and asking if i was joking and telling me how she felt and asking me what she should do now as she was on a walk. It was quite a difficult phone call for me. She also came to my house with flowers which she left on the doorstep and then texted me that it was a long drive for her but shed left me flowers but that she had had a row with my (nice) neighbour because she had parked blocking that neighbour’s drive… so i had to comfort her about that too… I avoided her offers of a visit or phonecall because i found her a lot to cope with on top of everything else.
I answered her phone call a few days before the funeral because she had texted me freaking out about where she should park at the crematorium (which is somewhere me and her used to meet up at for a walk anyway sometimes so she should know it really well and it is very near her own house). During the phonecall she gave me a lot of unsolicited advice like telling me she had a vision I will meet a new husband. That my husband is at peace with the angels (I am an athiest) and all the usual BS. She also kept offering to help with all the funeral admin but I knew i couldnt really rely on her so instead i just showed her the covid seating plan the crematorium had asked me to fill in and asked if she could help with sitting people in the right place so that close family can sit in the few indoor spaces and we need to respect the covid rules. She agreed.
At the funeral I heard her introducing herself to people as my “best friend” and she kept talking to me about where she’d parked and stuff about her when I was trying to compose myself on the way in and others were trying to offer condolences. After i’d followed my husband’s coffin in and sat down at the front chair on my own she came running in and over to me saying she had forgotten the seating plan. I was a bit dazed so couldn’t really understand her as i was also trying to listen to the first song which i’d purposely chosen to try and cheer myself up at what i knew would be a hard moment. She sat down herself in the chair intended for my Stepdad, then my brother, then my auntie and then my uncle before finally standing at the back of the chapel (not allowed as she was standing right behind my elderly aunt breathing down her neck). If she would have been carrying Covid she would have spread it to all those chairs and the commotion meant i was facing the wrong way when the first song ended and the Minister started speaking, I missed the coffin being laid down and the photo being put up because I was trying to calm her down and direct my other confused relatives where to sit after she caused such confusion. I knew she was nervous and tried to see the funny side, as my husband would have done but in truth it did upset me a bit as the service was not very long anyway.
Afterwards she was very nervous and came and explained some more things to me that I didn’t have capacity to take in (something about her plans for the rest of the day and if she could have a spare order of service). I was almost glad when she’d gone which i feel a bit mean saying as I know she was trying her best at not an easy occasion for her too.
In the following weeks I didn’t hear much from her but then she asked to meet up. I was suicidal and shaking/crying all the time by then and grateful for any company to get through the minutes so I did. One time she did let me tell her about the day my husband died and that did help (she’d done a first aid course recently and showed me the bag you are supposed to put over the mouth when doing CPR as I was really upset about that aspect of the CPR, it helped me a bit to talk about that).
I met her around 4 times the following weeks, it was always a double-edged sword as except for the first time I could feel she was not listening to me and a bit bored by my continual grief but on the other hand it did cheer me up to have the company, even if sometimes it upset me a lot more afterwards thinking about what she said. She also gave me a present of a tiny angel carving she believed is magical. I thanked her a lot and appreciated that she thought to give that to me, despite that I don’t believe her point of view I am glad for her that she does believe that and put it up on my shelf to remind me that someone cared about me rather than for it’s magical powers.
I did tell her that I knew she was trying to help but the talk about angels, god and that i will find a new husband upset me more than helped so i would prefer if she dropped those subjects. Then she would say “i know you dont believe this but i believe… and still say them”. It got a bit on my nerves so I stopped meeting/talking with her but we still remained in text contact every few days.
She tried to encourage me to join a zoom video quiz she was organising and to invite anyone else (she needed more numbers). I really didn’t want to and told her that but she gave me a ticket for it (she was selling them so free to her but the others had to pay). I didn’t do it and I think it irritated her a bit. She also wanted me to join other similar events like a zoom version of crystal maze (last thing i could think of to be honest!!) and other events with people i don’t know from a social group she’d joined and volunteered as an organiser for. She had a lot of operational difficulties with it that she asked my advice about to.
I noticed that if i told her i was upset she would always try to solve it, She did google things like a local bereavement group (closed due to covid though), CRUSE and WAY to tell me about. She also found some other forums and would send me links often to “funny” posts that actually i didn’t find funny like she did on account of feeling the same (things like a woman who slept on her dirty sheets because she couldnt bear to change them due to they smelled of her husband).
She kept asking how she can help and i said i just needed her to listen to me, not try to solve things. I was quite direct but she could never really manage that (I know it’s hard and too much to expect).
I slumped further and was really going to kill myself, I confided only in her about those feelings and how alone and hopeless i felt. She said everyone has bad days and she felt like that on a monday driving into work sometimes and that i needed to get hobbies to cheer myself up. I’d also told her about the panic attacks i was having in the night where i could only see my husband’s dead face and the 1,2,3,4 in my mind of the chest compressions and stuff like that. She said i should ring her if i had a time like that again. I did and so i texted her. She texted back something like “we all have problems, my phone battery is low, goodnight”. It was a lot to ask texting here at 4am i know and i was surprised she replied at all but still I felt a bit let down after all her many offers of help.
There had been a point when I didn’t reply to her text for 2 weeks when she’d asked me if a new neighbour was attractive and I felt sickened that again she was insinuating i could replace my husband.
She left me a voicemail saying her Dad had to go to hospital and she sounded upset. I got back in touch fearing the worst for her but she was quite cheerful and said her Dad, Mum and her had just been out for a takeaway lunch and walk. Her mum had taken him to hospital because he was suffering anxiety due to Covid restrictrions and not being able to go on day trips/to his favourite cafe but he was fine now. Over the following weeks I asked after him and they’d often been on a local day out together the three of them so whilst I appreciate he had anxiety and i know from experience that is really not nice, it’s not like what i thought from the voicemail she left me that made me think he’d had a heart attack or cancer diagnosis or something…
She wondered why I had not replied for two weeks and I explained that i knew she didnt mean to upset me but when she said things like that I did tend to feel upset so since i didnt know what to say i hadnt replied as thinking about it upset me and since i was suicidal and only just hanging on i didnt want to think about it,
We had normal messages back and forth for a bit and i tried to reduce my thoughts of how i really was and keep the focus on her as i could tell she was extremely bored by my depression. She was saying that i would be a lot better once covid restrictions were over as she couldnt wait for it and started making arrangements for us to meet up with someone from her quiz group whose husband had died several years ago, saying the three of us could meet at a local tourist spot for lunch during the week.
I said I am trying to hold down my job and do not drive so cannot come during the week but don’t really feel up to it yet either. She was a bit annoyed about that and kept pressuring me, saying she had made arrangements already. Then she changed the day to give me more time to book the day off but i said i still didn’t want to. She abandoned that plan eventually and again we were just talking about normal things via text like songs or her work. She also would send me links about youtube videos “proving” angels are real and this kind of thing to prove me wrong and I no longer commented back on those texts as I didn’t want to crap all over her beliefs which she takes great comfort from. She would often tell me things like she had a message from my husband which I did find a bit uncomfortable though.
Another day we were talking on WhatsApp and she was laughing that she had broken her mum’s precious vase that belonged to her dead Grandma. She had done this in the background of her mum on a zoom church meeting so her mum didn’t react straight away but she knew her mum would come up and say something once the call was over and she was laughing and asking me what to say. I was a bit shocked that she was not upset herself (as i would be) so i tried to explain to her that her mum may be very upset because that is one of the last things she has of her dead mother… when her mum came in, she repeated to her all I’d said so her mum was pacified but then once her mum had gone she was laughing to me about it again afterwards. It shocked me that she could put on a show of understanding grief without caring at all and made me wonder if that’s what she does to me.
One morning I got a set of very long texts from her out of the blue suddenly saying she had been holding it in but she wanted to know if i thought it was a good way to treat a friend who tried to help me to not speak to them for two weeks over one stupid comment.
Also she said did i think it was acceptable that when my husband was alive i’d spent my birthday having cocktails with him when she’d wanted to visit me so she wasn’t good enough for me then but now that i needed her i was “all over her texting all the time”.
I replied saying yes i texted more now because indeed i need her for the first time and actually my texts are usually only in reply to her texts. I said yes i ignored her for two weeks because her comments, whilst meant to be helpful were not helping me but actually upsetting me more at a time i felt suicidal already so i needed a break for my own health. Then i said i wasn’t sure what she wanted, is it me to reply less or more because she was having a go at me for both things. I also said that I felt she doesn’t listen to what I am saying and regards other people’s grief as entertainment.
She replied back that she thought I had a real nerve after everything she has done for me and that this is the end of the friendship. I said I agree and wished her all the best.
I noticed some time later that she must have unfriended me on Facebook that day. I then blocked her on WhatsApp in childish retaliation. I felt a bit relieved to be honest after that though also sad/angry. I’ve had a few times where it has been on my mind since feeling anger towards her and i had a few sleepless nights where it was all on my mind a lot. I told my mum and she said she always thought that friend was a bit weird (though could be nice) due to some things she’d done at my wedding too (that i hadn’t thought about).
Anyway, it’s been about 2 months since that angry exchange (it was just before i had a flip out and went to live with my mum temporarily and on the anti-depressants, I think the whole thing was one of the contributing factors as i was very lonely and it upset/shocked me a lot that she had a go at me at the time i needed it least).
This week i received a notecard through the post from her.
"We have been friends for over 20 years, I remember our first conversation…
When you told me the news about René I was about to go for a walk by the canal and it was completely out of the blue, unexpected and left me in disbelief. I am still in that place now.
I was upset that you ignored my messages for two weeks and that you thought i found grief as entertainment. I’m still left wondering why you would think so little of me. I have never suggested that you should get a hobby either.
I understand what you said about how you like how the counsellor listens. I suggested the bereavement group in the town centre and that we could meet for coffee as a suggestion.
The last few months have been hell for us as dad has been poorly so we have constantly been at A and E and up all night.
I didnt want to bombard you with facebook messages or texts. The restriction and lockdown have made everything even more unbearable.
At least i know that i tried to apologise for anything i might have said/done to upset you. Was it the light forums i sent (links?)
A few things cross my mind now but I am not sure if it is the grief and I’m not being fair.
First option is just to ignore her. If i bump into her one day i can say hello to be polite but not go into a conversation.
Second option I could write back explaining it for her and then ignore her. To me it feels like her card is less about being a friend to me/apologising but more about continuing the argument to prove something. To me it looks like a “sorry not sorry” type of letter.
Thirdly of course I could apologise as maybe i am in the wrong and I’m too harsh. Things would go back to how they were for her but I don’t think I could truly ever really forgive her in my mind though i could put on a good show.
My initial compulsion on receiving it was to send a cute card back, returning the angel she gave me (now in a cupboard after a nearmiss with the bin first before i felt too shady to throw it away) and then inside the card I’d just write “F*CK YOU” but I know that is not really the mature thing to do here!
It was a very long post I know and no worries if no one posts. It did me good to finally write it all out anyway and if anyone got this far reading, then thank you and I hope you had a brew to keep you going!!