Finding peace came at the cost of a friendship, but does that mean you need to do the same? I'll tell you why I did it, so maybe it can put things into perspective for you.
Twenty-four years. Twenty-fours years cut off with one simple click of the block feature, indefinitely.
It wasn't at all a sudden decision, nor was it a casual one. I am grieving a living person. I am mourning a relationship with someone I thought of as family. I think of this person every day, ad have so many shared moments, it becomes difficult to not mention her in most conversations.
I hated the concept of ghosting. It seemed cold, heartless- cowardice in fact. That was until I found myself in a position where I really felt like ghosting a friendship, that bordered more on a dysfunctional sibling bond, necessary to my mental and emotional well-being. As you're reading this, you might be wondering if you should ghost your own friend. Before you consider making that life changing decision, I'll tell you why I decided to ghost.
She had a sweep-it-under-the-rug mentality.
There isn't a relationship I know of that isn't problem free. When you care about the other person and care to still have a relationship with them, you owe it to each other to talk through problems before considering cutting them out of your life.
I talk through problems, even at the risk that I could be the actual problem and just didn't recognize it initially. What you resist will persist, is my motto. My best friend was content with moving forward sans discussion. Talking about relationship issues, for her, was like talking about the front page feature of last month's newspaper- irrelevant. This created a burdensome weight on our relationship that I realized I carried alone. When I grew the courage to speak up, I was met with frustration, annoyance and shift of blame. I had an overwhelming fear of losing this friend I cared for (and she knew it), that I would apologize for bother her and for bringing it up- especially in the situations where I was not at blame. I lacked concrete boundaries and allowed her to treat me the way she wanted.
I am of the opinion that if someone needs to talk about issues in their relationship, it's usually a sign that they want to fight for it and make sure things can be fixed. My words fell on perpetually frustrated ears, and I eventually grew tired. I had nothing more to say, so I didn't.
Her time was her time, and my time was OUR time.
As much as I like a random meet up at a coffee shop, pub or restaurant, I love a planned get together much better. There's a measure of control that i like about it. The best friend? Not so much. She often agreed to a planned date (sometimes even planning them herself) and would be a no-show. She wouldn't answer her phone until the next day, or would make up a lie I eventually caught onto. When confronted about her inconsideration, she simply told me, "I like being spontaneous. Planning makes me feel tied down, so I decided to do something else."
I tried that move once- petty I know. My thought process was that she might be self-aware enough to realize that her past actions have created a negative impact. That was not the case. We planned a day out, and I didn't show up or answer or answer my phone. I received an essay long text about what an inconsiderate friend I had been to her for the one date she took the time to show up for.
A constant violation of my time boundaries in this way and with a grocery list long of other boundary violations, wore me down. This led to me learning not to trust her to show up for me but she expected me to show up for her.
Time is an invaluable resource that can't ever be replenished.
Once it's gone, it's not coming back. If a friend does not respect your time, often times they don't respect you. Add to that your body, your money, and your emotions too.
Being myself only meant the parts she wanted.
"When you share your work problems with me, my husband and I get into really bad arguments. If you keep doing it, I don't think you should visit us."
"Honestly, you don't need to talk so much when telling a story! Just get to the fucking point!"
"It's like you're not trying hard enough to get over your anxiety and depression. It makes me not want to be around you."
I felt terrible hearing these things. It definitely didn't fly over my head that I had been guilty of trauma dumping from time-to-time. A friend can be your support but not your therapist. A friend can also tell you if what you're sharing is too heavy to carry or needs the insight of a professional, in a kind and loving way. A friend also cannot weaponize things you've shared with them as a means to create conflict in their personal lives and blame you. On a similar note, if excitedly sharing a story gets you a verbal shut down, is this a person you want to share moments of your life with? Good or bad?
Overtime, I didn't quite share much of anything to receive support. I did slip up on many occasions and regretted it, even if conversation continued to flow happily. Most problems were thinly veiled in humour and given about twenty minutes maximum to discuss- a personal decision to avoid being verbally chastised later on. I took up less space, I dimmed myself a little.
I answered calls from her during my work day, calming the severe anxiety she was experiencing. I listened over the phone at 12am if she needed an open ear. I wanted to show her support, I wanted to let her shine. I just knew that if I asked for a similar kind of support, it couldn't be reciprocated. That the way I would express myself could annoy her. I was scared of that and I began to see just how unhealthy that was.
A friend that cherry picks what parts of you they want in their life, isn't being fair or being a friend. If you feel like you have to negotiate who you are with a friend to be in that relationship, it might be worth it to your well-being to let them go without renegotiation. Working on yourself to be better is fine. Working on yourself to only become what the other person will tolerate and find palatable is unfair to you.
Despite everything that has happened, I still love and miss my ex-friend.
We had been through so many different moments together and seen so many of each others milestones. I truly thought that I may be friends with her for the rest of our lives.
I always thought that if there was ever a chance we ended our friendship, we would probably have spoken, properly said our goodbyes and found closure on both ends. It's never quite that simple though, is it? Our relationship felt like it was beyond the point of any discussion.
Wanting to discuss and confront issues in the recent past mad me feel like I was losing a piece of my dignity. With each time she sidelines me, and I allowed it, I compromised my sense of self. Being around her, talking to her, no longer felt safe or peaceful. Did I want to hurt her? No. Ghosting her felt like the only way for me to keep what was left of my heart safe. I can acknowledge I am not a perfect person or friend; she very well could have been unhappy but wanted to forge on.
What exactly was my criteria when it came to ghosting and cutting contact?
Resistance to meeting me halfway with repairing relationship problems,
no respect for my time, money and body,
wanting me to change defining characteristics about myself,
belittling and cutting me down,
hurting my mental and emotional well-being,
feeling scared and emotionally dis-regulated around her.
Friendships don't need to fizzle out or need someone to ghost the other if things go sour. If both sides are willing to listen and learn, so much can be solved. if not, there can be a civil and loving parting of ways. Sometimes though, it is necessary to put yourself first and think of your needs.