Tragic Best Friend Tales #5

         I reeeallly haven't done one of these in a while. I even contemplated whether or not to do this one. I decided to give the green light because, ultimately, this is how I process things, work through them, and eventually (hopefully) let go.

        Friend P I've known for, sheesh, close to 15 years or so. We have very much had our ups and downs over the years, but always manage to come back together in the end. That's just how our friendship works. There were times where we'd fall out and once we'd come back together I'd think to myself "Shouldn't we have a conversation about that?", but we'd never have a conversation and we'd move one like nothing had happened or under the notion that our friendship didn't need all that spelling out of a situation. We were good. Underneath it all, I know it's because neither of us likes confrontation and that more so, on my end, I know how sensitive she can be and I never wanted whatever I said to come out too harsh and end up hurting her. I love her. She's my best friend. So, I'd go along with not talking it out or talking it out in passing or just the surface and all would be well. 

          Our friendship fell out over everything from guys, to me moving to Chicago, to flakiness, to just overall growing apart. Even though all that we've stuck by each other through everything. P was one of the only people I could talk to about certain things that I was embarrassed to talk through with other people. She got a side of me that no one else got because of the simple fact that I knew that she would get what I was going through. We bonded over our families, with both of us having overbearing mothers and we both did the best we could to try and walk each other through those parental incidents, or at the very least find the humor in it enough for us to not feel defeated by it anymore. We knew that at least in that sense neither of us were alone. 

        This year everything is different. To blame Covid or to not blame Covid. I don't know. 2020 kind of turned us all upside down. I'm not sure if the uncertainty of this year made the friendships hard or if being apart brought things to light or maybe even a little bit of both. On my end, the hurt came from around the time of the murder of George Floyd. There was something about his death that left me depressed. Legit depressed. Be it the normal feeling of not knowing what to do when police brutality happens or the feeling of being stuck because we're in the middle of quarantine when this happened so now I'm really stuck in a state of not knowing what to do. His death left me in tears for days and then piled on the anger of seeing friends and co-workers silent. How can my white friends sit there and not say anything? I didn't get it. How can my job sit there and not say anything when you have a workplace that is primarily black? At that moment I put my foot down. I made it clear that I couldn't take the silence anymore. Unfortunately, P was one of the silent ones and it hurt my heart. It really did. With racism at an all-time high I needed more from allies than a black square. Our pain deserved more than that. It made me reflect on the times in our past that had racial undertones that I overlooked or saw as no big deal because that was my friend. I remember years ago of her crying on my shoulder about a boyfriend that was, pretty much, if not totally, a skinhead. I gave her the advice any friend would, but I always wondered why she would cry to her black friend about a guy who openly called a mixed friend of hers a "nigger". I look at most recently, a year ago, of her wanting to come work with her all the while having a coworker who was openly racist and a manager that did not want to fire her. I looked at it that my friend was trying to get me out of a position that I hated, but at the same time why set me up like that when you know I'll definitely not tolerate that? And why not go above your boss's head and report it? All of this put me into my thoughts of thinking "Does this woman really have my back as an ally or just as an almost acquaintance like friendship?" It hurt my heart to have to think to myself that maybe she doesn't. I still went through that it was the pressure of this year and being in quarantine that was making this feeling much stronger than it normally would have been pre-covid. Again, with us not liking confrontation I thought over and over in my head how do I start a conversation or how I should move past it or do I open up the dialog or wait until the opportunity presented itself. I did the latter. She once texted me to see if my job was hiring and how it was going. I told her my thoughts on my new job. Not bad, but pay not enough for what we do, and that their response on race relations really fell short. Silence. Our conversation was back and forth until I brought that up and I never got a response back from her. That really hurt. It almost said to me as if my concern about it was annoying or not worthy of a response. I didn't even know where to go at that point. Now I'm just included in mass texts for holidays, but a no thought when I respond back. I feel as though I'm a non-factor or not worth the recognition after a decade-plus friendship.

        A part of me would also notice things I'd be left out of and I overlooked it as it's something that maybe was only between her and her coworkers, but then there'd be all these pics on social media of her "and her girls" and it would often make me wonder where I fit it. Eventually, I started to just feel like the venting friend. The one you'd vent to, but not the one that was presentable enough to want around for a girl's night out. Don't get me wrong. To be that person to someone where they can be raw with you and show you their bare self is something special, but sometimes it would be nice to be around for the fun times too, not just around when you need a cry. I felt like maybe I wasn't good enough to be around these other people. It was a sucky feeling.

        I won't sit here and pretend that I'm the best friend in the world. If you look at my last TBFT you will see that is not the case. For P, I wasn't in her wedding. That wasn't her call. That was mine. I was gung ho about it until I found out the wedding was the weekend of my birthday and an evening wedding to boot. I was set to make a trip that weekend to Chicago and to take a bus in the middle of the night on a Friday, after the wedding or that Saturday morning would've caused a domino effect for the events I had planned on getting into. I chose me. My birthday plans fell through and I still went to the wedding, but not as a bridesmaid. I'm sad I didn't get to be a part of that for her. I have no regrets about anything in life, but I do wish that had gone differently. Part of me still feels like she's still upset about that and maybe wants to sever our friendship. That I can never be certain on, but it's a feeling that I have and it would be valid on her part.

        The most hurtful is that I did/do consider her son my nephew. I love that kid to bits. I'm hurt that she's about to have a little girl, and she didn't even tell me. I found out with the rest of social media. I never got a happy birthday even when she and I have a running joke on our birthdays. I'm trying to figure out navigating life without this person who was a huge part and without her child I'd grown fond of and of a child I may never meet. She was a big enough part of my life that if my boyfriend had ever wanted to propose to me she'd be one of the people he'd have to get a blessing from. 

        As I've said in other TBFT's these stories aren't all bad. I don't always focus on the negative and see that person as the enemy. These people in our lives we take with us, the good and the bad. For P I will never forget how she was there for me after my miscarriage. No one was there for me around that time like she was. She was there for me when my relationship was falling apart. I have never been able to confide in anyone like I have with her. I have many an inside joke that I'll never forget because of her. Red trucks, the best road trips, fighting in bowling alleys, and not being able to eat pizza without pineapple. That will always be a part of our friendship story. 

- Asia Aneka Anderson, 2020(c)        

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