Sunday, October 22, 2006

The passage of time...

Sometimes I think I missed out on the gene that makes me good at relationships.

I mean, the Other Half and me are solid (apart from when I give my mobile number to fellow explorers in the grounds of derelict buildings, but that's another story), I think I do pretty well as a mother to Small Person and I have a couple of strong friendships that I can't imagine doing without (you know who you are). Aside from that, though, it's a bit of a wasteland. I can't bear to be within thirty miles of my mother. If I spend time with my father I (admittedly this isn't helped by the inevitable, liberal application of Irish whiskey) immediately revert to needy teenager. I haven't spoken with the man who brought me up between the ages of two and seventeen (me, not him. That would be weird, and against the laws of physics) for about twelve years.

And friends. What of friends?

Throughout my life I've always talked of my "oldest" friend. We met when we were eleven, in a second-year Science class. United by a sense of dislocation from our peers, we spent our school years in an exclusive club with only two members. We didn't need anyone else. We understood each other - she had been diagnosed with diabetes at the same time that her brother was being treated for cancer and felt sidelined and unloved. I was growing up in an utterly dysfunctional environment; my weekdays marked only by an increasing sense of tension as my parents' weekend skirmishes drew ever nearer. We were both isolated and felt that we were the only ones who could possibly understand each other.

It sounds perfect, doesn't it? Two lonely kids from affluent, yet emotionally deprived backgrounds, helping each other through the day-to-day crap, being exactly what the other needed to keep struggling on.

Except, as with anything, there's another side to it.

I don't know how to articulate this part of it without sounding pathetic, or painting myself as a "victim". I wasn't. I'm not. I just clung onto something I thought was helping me, as it was the only thing in my life that seemed worth hanging onto. But if I look back, realistically it was more emotional abuse, just on a different scale. The times my school work would be flung out of the classroom window as a "joke". The elaborate birthday scenarios - gift after gift, which I was only permitted to open in front of the whole class, each seemingly designed to humiliate and to test my loyalty. I recall sitting in an English lesson one year, covered in flour and water from already opened "presents", opening yet another embarrassing gift and wondering what the hell I was doing there. I remember running away from school the same day - I left the classroom and spent half an hour in the loos, compiling a list of desperate options and listing the pros and cons, before getting a bus home and spending the afternoon despairing over what to do next - even my best friend thought I was a joke. What was left for me?

Looking back, I still don't know if she knew what she was doing. I've always given the benefit of the doubt - after all, we rescued each other, didn't we? But even now the past still rears its head. A few weeks ago my daughter came home from a weekend spent with the Ex and my friend - since he and I split they spend a lot of time together. Mummy, said Small Person, is it true that your nickname at school was "...."*. Who told you that? I asked. The answer was sickening. My friend appeared to have "forgotten" that I had been bullied in the first couple of years at senior school, and had told my daughter the name they had called me, that had haunted me, that she knew had hurt a joke.

At this point I began to re-evaluate things. We'd been through a lot. My marriage breakdown. Her breast cancer, her recovery, her subsequent divorce. I thought we were on an even keel; that somehow, now we were grownups, the relationship had equalised somehow. She spent the summer with the Ex and Small Person and I wondered where I fitted in with that but reconciled it. In the last few months, however, there's been a change. I don't know whether it's her or whether it's me. I haven't seen her since we moved into the new house in March. I get the odd comedy text ("it's national you're a cunt day!! so I'm sending this to you!!") in the middle of the night, but nothing more.

The other morning I checked my phone and saw a text she'd sent me at 1am. "You seem to have given up on me", read the message. Not at all, I texted back. We're busy, that's all. Come and see me next week - I'll cook dinner and we can catch up. I'd come to you, but I have Small Person all week.

That was nearly two weeks ago. On Thursday night I decided maybe I should be the one to assert myself. I sent a text explaining that recently, she only messages me in the middle of the night when I'm not likely to reply. If I reply the next day I never hear back. Is this it then, I asked? Are we done? Talk to me.


That told me, didn't it.

* Clearly, "..." wasn't the name they called me. That would be a shit insult, and even sensitive me might have got over it. It's secret, you see. Durr.


Blogger Katy Newton chimed in with...

I don't know anyone who hasn't suddenly sat up at some point and realised that one of their friends is in fact, for no apparent reason, a born self-esteem saboteur. I don't know how you get one with your ex - possibly very well, I genuinely don't know - but even so, the mark of a born saboteur is that they go ridiculously out of their way to befriend the men you become involved with, and then as soon as you split up they suddenly seem to be seeing your ex all the time, but never you.

You probably feel like you would lose a lot of your history if you never saw her again, but my advice would be not to contact her again, and to ignore if she contacts you. Honest. She'll only carry on making you miserable.

22 October, 2006 18:05  
Blogger Annie Rhiannon chimed in with...

I had a friend when I was a teenager who understood me perfectly and vice versa. Not only did she belittle me in company but she got off with every guy I ever showed any interest in. Treachery! I'm not sure if she ever knew what she was doing. In hindsight I can see that she was terribly insecure and jealous of me but of course I never saw it at the time.

Anyway, no idea if this applies to your post, it just popped into my head.

22 October, 2006 18:46  
Anonymous sooz chimed in with...

You're well rid of her. She's one of those 'toxic' people who drag us down throughout our lives 'til we realise what gits they are.

Do explain to your Little One why it was insensitive of her to say that and why. Somehow I doubt she'll bog off - she'll need (to hurt) you to make herself feel better.

You don't need to explain to her why you don't want to associate with her - just tell her to f'off!

23 October, 2006 09:54  
Anonymous sooz chimed in with...

I bloody hate it when I find errors after I've pressed send! Preview, preview effing well preview woman!!

23 October, 2006 09:56  
Blogger UnderCrackers chimed in with...

She clearly has a smorgasbord of issues that she has repeatedly taken out on you...I would just beware of what she says and does to your child. make sure she doesn't get at you through Small Person.
I if were you I would be glad not to see this person again.

23 October, 2006 10:19  
Anonymous Stu Savory chimed in with...

Hi Surly,

first time I've EVER heard of a girl called Rumpelstiltskin ;-)

23 October, 2006 15:09  
Blogger realdoc chimed in with...

She sounds like poison. The 'oh, I meant it as a joke' defence does not apply to people who know you well and who therefore should know what is appropriate to joke about and what isn't. I would be very wary of letting small person spend time around this woman.

23 October, 2006 15:20  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

I know this has been a difficult situation to face up to. You know my view but it would have been wrong to push you into making such a tough decision when you weren't ready.

I know you have enough genuine friends that mean you won't miss the individual concerned. It's painful letting go of someone who was an integral part of your past but I hope togehter we can make a bright, fun future that will give you all the happiness you need and deserve.

23 October, 2006 16:56  
Blogger Kissing just for practice chimed in with...

Please excuse the hugely anti-social nature of such a large comment on somebody elses blog... It just really struck a chord with me...

I had (note the past tense) a 'friend' very much like this in my grey school days. She was no more naturally socially adept than I was, but with me as her stooge could always gain greater social acceptance from similar ritual humiliations.
On my return to the UK after three years travelling abroad, I bumped into a 'popular' girl from my old school and she smirked saying "I like your Friends Reunited profile." Surprise darted across my face, as I was completely unaware I had a profile. That night I read a page of lies (or twisted truths) and vitriol that fed on so many deep insecurities it could have been written by nobody but aforementioned friend. I cried, then a little calmer looked objectively at my friend's life and realised for her that things hadn't moved on in the same way as they had for me. Years have passed since then, I never confronted her but simply stopped returning calls, if I see her I am vague but civil and not once in the subsequent years have I felt any desire to reinstigate the friendship.
We make naive judgements when we are children, which we don't have to make as adults. I'm with realdoc limit small person's exposure to this woman, as life is permitted to move on.

23 October, 2006 17:19  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

this was brave of you to post up. i've had my share of this kind of 'but its all in good fun!' type of abuse and its ABUSE.
good riddance.
and hugs to you (())) my darling.

*dropkicks the bitch*

23 October, 2006 19:36  
Anonymous pink chimed in with...

it's hard to give advice or what-have-you, because obviously this is just a shortened, editted-for-blog version of events, but seriously. if my supposed best mate was hanging around with my ex in the way you describe, i'd off her. because, to be quite honest, she sounds like a right vindictive cow, and i too reckon you should keep your baby away from her.

ps. isn't your other half absolutely lovely? aww. i wish my dave would leave comments like that on my blog.

23 October, 2006 20:06  
Blogger claire chimed in with...

Currently going through this with my cousin. It is hard enough to deal with an old friend when they're abusive like this, but so obnoxious when they're related.

I hope you're strong enough to just drop all ties and move on with your life. I'm not sure if i am.

23 October, 2006 20:42  
Blogger Alias Lucy Diamond chimed in with...

She sounds horrible, warped, poisonous and probably jealous of you. Bin her.

24 October, 2006 17:21  
Blogger cuppa chimed in with...

Unfortunately I can relate to this one. I had a friend for over 10 years, we did the whole of our twenties together. I was her maid of honor, she looked after my baby when i was offered a temporary too good to miss job, she hugged me when i lost my dad to lung cancer and i defended her to everyone, including my husband, when she was fucking behind her husbands back and everyone knew except me. When they divorced i phoned, text and emailed her. She did reply at a reasonable hour but when it came to meeting she blew me out with every shitty excuse under the sun and when i confronted her she accused me of being needy!! Fortunately i have a few good friends who reassured me that it was her not me that was being stupid but it makes you feel 8 years old again and you question 'why doesnt she want to be my friend'. The only conclusion i have is that every relationship serves a purpose and even though you mourn the passing of it maybe it's time to let it go.

24 October, 2006 18:59  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i am moved to say a proper, sincere thank you for all these comments.

the day after i posted this, the person concerned texted me to say she'd speak to me soon. do you know what? i'm not interested. thank you for letting me know i'm not the only one who has experienced this.

that's it. normal bitter, ranty service is resumed....

24 October, 2006 19:30  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

Hi sg. Your commenters have said it all, and very eloquently.

apparently you DO have quite a few friends, even if most of us are just electrons flying through space.

24 October, 2006 20:12  
Blogger Patrick Dodds chimed in with...

I agree with Sooz - tell her to foff (lovely neologism btw), if only inside your head. Then ignore her. Interesting subtext, texting: so many ways to misbehave with it - I hate it when people don't text back.

28 October, 2006 10:05  

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