Thursday, September 27, 2012
Women cherish their female friendships. This unique bond is sometimes even closer than a sister. I say that because, in a sense, siblings are forced into a relationship called a family. They compete for attention. They experience moments of jealousy, and arguments from the never ending presence of their sibling. Later on, they become allies and then friends, eventually going their separate way although still tethered by the invisible, unbreakable, and pointless words, “blood is thicker than water”.
Blood may be thicker than water, but is it thicker than a chocolate frappe shared with your best friend from middle school? Those are the memories that create the bonds formed in childhood that are somehow stronger and less prone to breakage. It makes sense. There is no vying for parental attention or jealousy that someone else is the favored child. Bedrooms, clothing, and toys don’t have to be shared. Conversely, time spent with a friend is precious and wonderful. There is no drama lingering from prior family incidents, just the warm memories that have been solidified over years. Heartfelt hugs are shared and they each go their separate ways until the next time.
When a friendship ends, the familial guilt is not there to second guess or regret that decision. Perhaps there is an irreparable argument. Perhaps it’s more severe; even involving philandering. Or perhaps one friend becomes lost in her own world and cannot return to reality….the saddest loss of all because there is no concrete answer.
I have experienced the two former scenarios years ago. There was the friend I met in middle school who lost herself to the control of her narcissistic husband so she could no longer think for herself. I haven’t seen her since 1997. There was the friend who swore eternal support during my acrimonious divorce, while fueling her own lack of self esteem by an extramarital affair with my husband. She attempted contact recently, which I didn’t acknowledge. More recently, there is the friend who has lost touch with reality. Tragic and heartbreaking, but I am not qualified to deal with her demons; and she is too possessed by confusion, fantasies and paranoia to accept help.
With all three women, there were nagging signals that something was not quite right. Like drinking that chocolate frappe which starts to weigh heavily in your stomach, but you keep drinking because it tastes so good. Yet eventually you need to do what is in your best interest. It’s easy to push a glass away, but much more difficult to push away a friendship. The ties that bind female friends are firmly knotted from sharing the laughter and tears, the escapades and adventures, and thousands of memories over the years. Therefore escape is almost impossible, unless you sharply sever the ties.
So, while those sibling bonds may fray, and break, there is usually a way to mend them; often utilizing a joint effort to repair the connection, sometimes even with additional help from the family. But once a friendship becomes more poison than pleasant, an attempt to become re-tethered is like agreeing to be dragged down into the sea of her helplessness, malevolence, or insanity.
Sometimes, the best decision is to walk away and never look back.