“Not only are you a great cook and talented artist, you are my best friend and I’m so glad you’re in my life.”
Those were the words spoken by a woman I’d known for ten years. A talented artist herself, I basked in the glow of her compliment. They were said on my deck this past summer as we lunched on my caramelized onion and goat and swiss cheese quiche. It was, I have to admit, one of my better recipes.
I had not the slightest premonition of what was to come very soon.
Several weeks later, I called her to see how she was faring. I hadn’t heard from her since our lunch together. She lived alone and didn’t drive because she had given up her car. At the time, I told her I thought that was a bad idea. She was very independent. Did she want to give up that independence, I asked? No, she said. But regardless, she sold her car and now relied primarily on cabs and Uber. She had been quite ill during the winter and spring and I often worried about her. I was feeling guilty I hadn’t talked to her in a while and was calling her to invite her for lunch again, while the weather still allowed us to be on my deck. I would pick her up as I often did.
When she answered, her “hello” was cool. I ignored that and went on to ask how she was doing dealing with both the politics and the pandemic. “Fine” was her icy response. I plodded on, telling her I was calling to invite her to lunch again, but before I could continue, she cut me off.
“To be honest, she said, “I need to tell you something.”
Uh oh, I thought. This was not good. But I’d no idea how bad it was about to become.
My friend went on. “I don’t want to see you again. “
She proceeded to attack me with a coldhearted viciousness I’d never experienced before. Apparently, I took events in her life, and made them mine. It seems I was the one who convinced her to give up her car, constantly harassing her about her poor driving. I yelled at her. And often. She ended this diatribe by telling me I was a negative person, that a negative “aura” surrounded me.
I listened, stunned, as if I was in an alternate universe. I thought back to our yard and then our basement this spring. Both flooded with water, resulting from April’s relentless rain. Six inches deep in our basement. It was devastating. We nearly lost our furnace. But this flooding of falsehoods felt even worse. This time the lost was personal – and not caused by an act of nature. Eight years of trusting, of confiding and of forging, or so I thought, a strong bond of female trust and a passion for creativity.
None of these things were true and I told her this, over and over. But she continued to lash out this flood of false accusations. Finally, she told me she no longer wished to be friends. This was the only part of our conversation that I could agree with.
This event shook me to my core. In all of my 73 years, never had someone told me to my face they didn’t want to be friends. Of course, there have been friends who drifted apart because of distance and time, but never were the actual words spoken, “I don’t want to be your friend.”
I called some of my closest girlfriends. I recounted the conversation and asked them if her accusations could be true? Did I have this negative aura around me? Did I ever yell at them? Each and every one of them assured me I was not this person. I felt better, embraced by their virtual hugs.
I admit, I miss my friend. She was a trusted confidante; one I could reach out to if I needed a voice of reason. I don’t know what caused this change of heart. And I doubt if I’ll ever learn why.
Recently, another friend told me, “Linda, you are one of the most generous, loving and kind people I have ever known. You’re optimistic and positive and a good friend. Grieve, if you must, for a lost friendship, but do not let this define you. You are not this person.” And that has to be enough for now.