Stephanie Sprenger

  • HerTake: Feeling the Loss After a Breakup With Another Couple

    Have you ever experienced the breakup of a friendship with another couple? Today’s question comes from a reader who thinks there is a definite lack of resources available on this difficult situation, and we agree! Fortunately, we have Nina to tackle another challenging subject: a couples’ friendship breakup.

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

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    Dear Nina,

    My long-term partner and I, both women, were close friends with another lesbian couple for about 30 years until a difficult breakup occurred following a conflict. If info is somewhat lacking about one-on-one friendship breakups, it’s sorely missing when it comes to two couples ending their relationship with each other. The events leading up to the breakup, the process of trying to sort things out, and the decision-making regarding letting go seemed so much more complicated!

    Have you run into this before, whether with LGBT couples or heterosexual? Know of any resources for working through the feelings and the loss?

    Thank you for your consideration.

     Signed,

    Double the Loss

     

    Dear Double the Loss,

    You’re right! When it comes to the subject of couple friends most of the information I’ve read focuses on how to handle the “custody of your friends” after the couple in question has broken up temporarily or divorced, which is not what you’re asking about in your letter.

    You’re also not asking me or The HerStories Project’s astute readers to consider what happened in this particular situation. (Though we’re here to listen if you ever change your mind.) It sounds like you and your partner have resigned yourselves to the fact that the friendship with the other pair is over, but you still feel a sense of loss and want to know how to move forward. And to answer your other question, yes, I have been there, too.

    Losing the friendship of another couple is difficult, and you’re perfectly justified to wallow a bit. Whether you and your partner tried to distance yourselves from the other couple or the other couple distanced themselves from the two of you, it can be extremely awkward and painful to figure out what to do next. For example, what happens when anyone in the former foursome runs into each other? What if the four of you share other friends? (In both cases you will rise to the occasion because you will have no other choice. Always take the high road and avoid trying to get common friends to take sides. Be the first to say hello when you’re at the same event. Try to listen more than you talk since anything you say in that anxious state is something you’ll question later.)

    The hardest piece of all is what you already mentioned about loss. The feelings of loss, and I will add, rejection, do not disappear with the end of the friendship. If anything, those feelings can get worse before they get better.

    I think there are some solid standbys that are helpful when there’s any break in a friendship. Remember, I’m saying “helpful” tips, not easy ones. I realize the type of thinking I’m advocating below is easier said than done, but we all have to start somewhere when we find ourselves in this position of loss, no matter if we instigated the breakup or find ourselves on the receiving end of someone else’s decision to call it quits.

    SOMEWHAT RANDOM THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER AFTER BREAKING UP WITH ANOTHER COUPLE

    #1. We never know what is going on with another person—make that double for another couple. This means that if a couple needs a break from you and your partner, accept that whatever has been bothering them may be a temporary situation and could have nothing to do with the two of you. The same applies when you need a break from another couple. Perhaps the way one or both people in question have been bothering you is really more about changes in your life or your partner’s life and not a reflection of anybody’s direct wrongdoing. How is this assumption that it’s not only about you supposed to make you feel better? It won’t, but it might help you take things less personally, which is a start.

    #2. Each individual involved in a friendship breakup may be simultaneously in the right and in the wrong. There’s usually more than one issue at play when it comes to the ending of any sort of friendship. Since we’re talking about four individuals here, the possibilities for blame, overly taking offense, or problematic self-righteousness are endless. Holding on to the need to be right can become a bigger problem than the original schism if there was one particular instance that set the four of you on a bad path. What’s my point? It won’t help you move on to dwell on why you’re right, which leads me to the next thought.

    #3. Use any friendship breakup as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what went wrong in the relationship on both sides. Where can you take responsibility and plan for a different outcome in the future in your other friendships? Part of dealing with this particular kind of loss is learning from mistakes. How can you and your partner protect the relationships you have with any other couples and single friends you enjoy?

    #4. Speaking of other couples, is there now room in your lives to meet a new couple? I hate to say “when one door closes another one opens,” but . . . I had to say it because it’s true. Time is finite. Now you have a sliver more time to give to all your other friends and to extend yourselves to new people.

    #5. Keeping tabs on your old friends will not help. Try not to cyber stalk; try not to overtly ask your common friends how those two are doing; try your hardest not to speak ill of them. (That can be tough, I know.)

    #6. Almost every friendship letter I receive here boils down to unmet expectations, leaving me to wonder whether unrealistic expectations are the true source of all friendship issues. This is a good lesson to take into the next friendship. Be careful about pinning too many expectations on one person (or on two people in this instance).

    #7. Acknowledge that chemistry between friends ebbs and flows for many reasons, few of which we can control. When someone moves, enters a new romantic relationship, starts a new job, or has new responsibilities like taking care of a sick parent or has children—all of these factors and many more will change the time and effort that can go into a friendship. Sometimes the change in chemistry is personal and sometimes it isn’t. We can only control what we can control.

    #8. Finally, never say never when it comes to the end of a friendship. Unless we’re talking about an abusive or dangerous situation, I think it’s good to stay open to the idea of a reconciliation. The time apart might even strengthen the friendship, which is something that has happened to me.

    So, Double the Loss, since I don’t know about your specific situation, I can only do so much to help, but I hope some of the above “random thoughts” address what you’re facing right now.

     Best of luck,

    Nina

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

    It’s a new year, and we’re looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

  • HerStories Voices: It’s Really Going to be Okay

    Anyone who reads Christine Carter’s blog, the Mom Café, knows that she’s a woman of faith. She’s extremely optimistic, and her writing is empowering and full of positivity. I know when I read one off her essays I’m going to feel good about the world. So when I read her submission, I was a little surprised by how harrowing it was. I had no idea that her daughter had had such a rough start in life. I was heartbroken as I read, but then the story ended with her little angel’s message of hope and faith. The apple doesn’t fall from the tree! I hope you enjoy this essay. 

    —Allie

    HerStories Voices

    “It’s Really Going To Be Okay . . .”

    I vividly remember being surrounded by doctors who were covering me with an oxygen mask and flipping me over from side to side, as your heart rate plummeted once again. Just hours before, the doctor had sent me straight to the hospital, his haunting last words lingering: “I can’t promise you that your baby is okay. What I can say is you may have saved her life by coming in today.” They forced your delivery to save your life; they had no idea how long you’d been in distress. You came into this world through uncertain hopes, and as they placed you in my trembling arms, I never wanted to let go.

    During your first year of life, I watched you endure countless therapies. You screamed and cried so hard they didn’t know what to do. I witnessed your relentless fight and held back my own screams and cries. Your inconsolable tears tore at my heart and all I wanted to do was protect you from your pain.

    I dropped you off at your special needs program of treatments and therapies during your second year of life and held my breath as I paced in the parking lot each day. I felt tattered and twisted every minute you were without me, all alone in this strange new world. All I wanted to do was go back inside, pick you up into my arms, carry you away, and never let go.

    When they wheeled you in for surgery at nearly three years old, we faced our ultimate decision to risk your life for the use of anesthesia. Going against doctor’s orders, we decided the danger was worth it if we could prevent more torture to your fragile body. We were prepared for the worst and prayed for mercy on your behalf. You had been through enough. The bald patches on your head from pulling out your frayed baby blond hair were evidence of the pain you couldn’t withstand. We couldn’t fathom any additional trauma to your already difficult existence. I prayed for your lungs to stay open, while gasping for my own air. I wanted to lift you into God’s healing arms and tell Him to not let go until you were well.

    Five weeks after your brother was born, we spent hours in the emergency room attempting to open your airways. When I begged and pleaded with the doctors at the hospital to take you home, I surrendered to their haunting ultimatum as they transferred you to the respiratory isolation unit. I was faced with the nightmare of leaving you at the hospital and abandoning my place by your side for the sake of nursing my infant son.

    There you were, hooked up to several tubes and lying in the crib, gasping for air. I will never forget that moment. Forced to leave you overnight for the first time, I was trembling and terrified as I turned toward the door and walked away. We drove home at 2:00 a.m. and I sobbed all the way in chorus with my son’s exhausted wail. I’d never been so distraught in all my life. I longed to hold your precious body. That night away from you, something broke inside me.

    Little did I know there would be many more treatments, hospital runs, admissions, procedures, and surgeries to come . . .

    Little did I know that you would endure debilitating medical issues that would leave me terrified and torn, begging to hold on . . .

    But forced to let go.

    You were so weak. So weary. So worn. So wounded.

    And so was I.

    But somehow you overcame each tumultuous turn.

    And so did I.

    I look back on those horrific years filled with days, hours, and minutes of faltering fear, dreaded decisions, debilitating diagnoses, and I realize something remarkably true:

    You are not wounded and weak, nor are you weary and worn.

    You are a warrior.

    And each year since, I continue to face the undeniable feat of letting you go.

    Begging to hold on.

    But with every struggle to surrender . . .

    You survive.

    Your strength has risen in the suffering.

    You have taught me that through every trial and test, I must learn to trust.

    I never will forget your prophetic words in the car on the way to the hospital one fearful night. You were only three-and-a-half years old, limp with a 105.9 temperature and barely able to breathe. You heard me crying, and with a seemingly seasoned angelic voice you softly sang these words to me:

    “It’s okay, Mommy. It’s going to be okay. ”

    I hear your fateful words now . . .

    Reminding me that what you knew then is what I know now.

    It’s okay.

    It’s really going to be okay.

     

    Profile Pic (2)Chris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing kids. She has been writing at TheMomCafe.com for over five years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith.

     

     

     

     

    Are you interested submitting work to our bi-monthly HerStories Voices column? Email our assistant editor Allie at herstoriesvoices @ gmail.com. Check out submission guidelines here.

    **Our next online class, The Balanced Writer: Creating a Passionate, Productive Writing Life, begins next Monday! We have a fantastic lineup of inspiring guest instructors. If you are a writer with goals for the new year, this class is a great place to start! Find out more information and register here.

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  • HerTake: I Like You, But Not Enough for a Long Distance Visit

    When a friend’s expectations are far beyond what you would do for that person, how do you get out of the situation without hurting someone’s feelings? In this month’s letter, a long distance friend wants to come for a visit, but the letter writer feels that anything involving an airplane is beyond the boundaries of the friendship. What would you do?

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

    HerTakenoavatar

    Dear Nina,

    A few years ago I moved to a small town where I didn’t know anyone. It was a very difficult situation especially since I was overtly ignored or excluded by most women in town because of my newcomer status. But there was one woman (I’ll call her Tracey.) who was not only friendly but also very welcoming, even inviting us over for Christmas dinner. She and I continued to socialize mostly with our children and families and I enjoyed chatting with her.

    When my husband and I moved our family again, I said goodbye to Tracey and made sure to get her contact information for the occasional catch up. But on one of her first check-ins, she asked about making plans to come visit with her family. I was surprised because I didn’t think we had made it to visiting status, especially when it involves an airplane ride. And I certainly have no desire to ever go back to that town again!

    I feel guilty when I hear from Tracey and feel like I need to invest more in the relationship like she has, but I’m not sure I want to. I feel terrible! What do I do?

    Signed,

    I like you, but not enough for a long distance visit!

     

    Dear I like you,

    I chose your letter because it describes the trickiest of friendship conundrums: How can we let someone down or even change the status of a friendship while still demonstrating kindness?

    Your situation would be a simpler if Tracey had been a mediocre friend. I realize you two did not have an extremely deep connection, but the way she welcomed you to town when most others did not certainly puts her in a special status. Special status aside, I understand that an indefinite long-distance friendship takes a dedication that requires a deeper emotional base, and an equal effort, too. Friendships do not have to be 50-50 in effort, but 90-10 won’t work.

    My point is that I understand why you feel torn up about what to do. You don’t want to hurt Tracey’s feelings, but meeting her in the middle on effort and enthusiasm would require you to become a performer. I gather that you would prefer to have the type of long-distance friendship that manifests itself in friendly and genuine emails and mutual Facebook appreciation rather than visits back and forth or meeting in a neutral city in the middle. There is nothing wrong with you or “mean” about you for preferring the latter. If the chemistry for a deeper kind of friendship is not there, then it is not there. There’s no point in even analyzing why. Sometimes people do not click beyond a surface level no matter how much kindness has been bestowed.

    Still, because of Tracey’s track record of thoughtfulness and inclusivity, you want to be extra gentle in your approach to conveying that a visit is not going to work for you. The way I see it, you have two options: #1. Be direct, which requires saying that you think a visit feels out of bounds. Or #2. Be indirect and therefore spare Tracey’s feelings.

    I wish I had a good idea for how to handle this situation with absolute honesty and integrity, but to spare Tracey’s feelings, you will probably have to say some things that are not 100% true. Yes, I’m giving you permission to craft a white lie. I’m guessing from your letter that there is a spouse/partner and a kid or two in your household. Could you or your spouse have too many “up in the air” work commitments this year to say for sure when a visit would make sense? That’s just one idea, but you get where I’m coming from, I hope. Don’t make up something wildly untrue. You’re trying to state that it’s too hard to pin down a time, while hopefully getting the message across that if it were important enough to you, then you would find a weekend and just make it work.

    It’s not what you will say that will get the message across, it’s what you’re not saying. By not committing to a date, I can’t see how Tracey won’t figure out that this long-distance friendship is going to be less intense than perhaps she had hoped. And that’s okay. I imagine you were a good friend to her, too, while you lived in the same town and you don’t owe her lifelong friendship. All you owe her is that you treat her with as much kindness as possible.

    Good luck!

    Nina

     

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

     

     

     

     

     

    **Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience released last month, and was recently endorsed by the Singapore Committee for UN Women! You can buy a paperback or e-book here.

  • The Singapore Committee for UN Women Endorses Mothering Through the Darkness

    It has been one month since the release of Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience, and we have been so moved by the powerful response to this book. We were beyond honored when the Singapore Committee for UN Women included a discussion of Mothering Through the Darkness in their recent meeting, and it was an absolute thrill to receive this endorsement:

    UNWomen2We think this statement encapsulates the important of this topic, and we are grateful to the Singapore Committee for UN Women for their commitment to continue to discuss perinatal mood disorders and support the families affected by them.

    MOTHERINGTHRUDARKYou can buy Mothering Through the Darkness at Amazon,Barnes and Noble, ​IndieBound, and Books-a-Million. (**Amazon has run out of stock several times since publication, but more copies have been shipped and you can still place an order.)

    Have you already read it? We would be grateful for any reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

  • HerStories Voices: Housekeeping

    This week’s essay struck a chord with me, because it’s about the author’s experience working as housekeeper at resort hotel when she was sixteen. When I was in college, I also worked at a five star resort in a variety of positions – waitress, retail clerk, concierge, front desk. Although I didn’t have the same experience as this writer, I identified with her feelings about the way she was treated. I met many nice guests over the years, but there were more than few who felt entitled to treat me as less than, simply because they were paying extraordinary room rates. I go out of my way to remember the names of hotel employees. And I always tip the housekeepers! —Allie

    HerStories Voices

    Housekeeping

    By Elizabeth Mosier

    In high school, I worked as a maid at a Phoenix hotel. The right word is “housekeeping”—that’s what I called out as I knocked on doors and turned keys in locks, hoping not to find people sleeping or having sex or stepping naked from the shower—but the real job was more blunt. I remade beds with sheets that exhaled smells, dusted DNA from furniture, plucked matted hair from bathtub traps, disinfected things people touched while trying not to notice their unpacked, intimate details. I was trained to say housekeeping not maid, linens not sheets, guests not customers—code switching that elevated the hotel to a resort and me to a member of the hospitality team. My uniform, a mustard-colored polyester pantsuit that matched my yellow-tan skin, seemed to make me invisible as I pushed my cart across the sun-blasted courtyard, parked it at the end of a long corridor of closed doors, knocked and entered each dim room, blinking, blinded.

    I was good; I was fast; I got paid by the room. I’d look down a line of doors and see dollar signs—the way, years later as a waitress, I’d mentally pre-count my tips by two-tops, four-tops, parties of eight. In/out. Dirty/clean. Strike/stage. Cleaning was therapeutic for me, reassuring in its routines. The room numbers I ticked off my list measured the distance between clocking in and clocking out, where I was and where I wanted to be, getting to work and going home to shed the ugly uniform that was only a temporary insult to my pride.

    At first, my parents were against it. Farmers’ kids from Indiana, their careers selling houses (Mom) and machinery (Dad) had landed us safely in the upper-middle class. We lived within walking distance of the resort, in a pretty, mostly white, neighborhood of sprawling ranchers and water-wasting green lawns cut and irrigated by Chicanos who, like many of the hotel maids, drove trucks or took the bus from south Phoenix to north. It wasn’t actually that hard to talk my parents into letting me take the job. They respected people who did physical work—work they called real—praising them with the eagerness of those who get to choose. And Phoenix is, after all, a service economy, trading on warm weather and the desert’s beauty. That’s where the jobs were, so that’s where I worked. For college money—or so the story always goes.

    One sweltering morning, I knocked as usual and pressed my ear to a door, listening for a sleepy protest or sex sounds or running water inside. When I didn’t hear anything, I pushed open the door, grateful for the blast of icy air conditioning.

    Then “Hey, foxy,” said the man standing by the bed wearing only a towel. He didn’t flinch or apologize or lunge for a robe. He held his ground, like God’s gift to women my mom would have said, aware that he’d embarrassed me. Enjoying that power.

    “I’ll come back later,” I stammered.

    “When your shift’s over,” he said.

    I backed up, let the door close behind me, and rolled my cart to the next room without looking back. Though we were supposed to leave our carts outside, I hauled mine in behind me like a fugitive, flipped the lock, and fell onto some stranger’s unmade bed.

    I wasn’t scared, exactly, or even surprised. At 16, I’d been whistled at, felt up, flashed, sweet-talked, hustled by a “modeling agent,” and secretly kissed on the lips by my parents’ old friend. From these experiences, I had an impression of men as highly suggestible—like loyal, hungry dogs. And so, while my friends were just starting to feel the power of their prettiness, I was already weary of it and wary, too, feeling imperiled and responsible.

    But that day, hiding out in an empty hotel room, I was mad enough to smash something—maybe the mirror or the TV—thinking about what the near-naked man had said to me while he’d held his wallet in his hand.

    Eventually, I got up and cleaned the room like I was paid to do, and then moved on with my cart to the next mess. Because I knew who I was beneath the uniform: a girl with a future, making her way out of there, door by door. I didn’t see the man again.

    Of course I didn’t tell my parents. Instead, I laughed about it with my friends. For years, I told the funny, feminist-y story about being taken for a hooker in that hideous maid’s uniform, my whiteness and social class the unspoken (internalized) punch line.

    It wasn’t until I grew up and had daughters of my own that I realized my own blind spot and understood the luxury of my fury. My parents had only wanted to protect me from learning how the economy really works. But I’d seen how chicken wire covered in stucco could be made into a Spanish Colonial Revival resort; I know how much labor goes into maintaining that artifice of privilege.

     

    Elizabeth Mosier Head ShotElizabeth Mosier is the author The Playgroup and My Life as a Girl. Her essays are forthcoming in 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and in two anthologies: Fifty Over 50, and Chasing the Muse, Carrying the Bones: Spiritual Pilgrims Stumbling Upon Grace. Her column on midlife, “The U-Curve,” appears regularly in the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Magazine. Follow her at http://www.ElizabethMosier.com and on Twitter @emosier.

     

     

    **The HerStories Voices column will be taking a break until after the holidays. Any essays accepted at this time will run in winter/spring 2016. We are still accepting submissions, but please note there will be a longer than usual delay with running time, due to our holiday break and the fact that we are scheduling so far out. For more information on submission requirements, check out our Voices page. Submissions can be emailed to Allie, our assistant editor, at herstoriesvoices @ gmail.com

    MOTHERINGTHRUDARK

    **Mothering Through the Darkness released last Tuesday! You can order a copy of this anthology, written by 35 talented writers, in paperback or e-book here.

  • When to Stop Saving the Friendship

    If a friend starts pulling away while claiming nothing is wrong, how far would you go to save the friendship? How far should you go to get an answer about why she is no longer interested in being friends?

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

    HerTakenoavatar

    Dear Nina,

    I became friends with another woman in my community two years ago. Our kids went to the same camp and we instantly hit it off. Over the past two years we’ve spent tons of time together individually, with our kids, and with our spouses. We even took a trip together with our kids (sans husbands). We used to email or text almost every day and saw each other at least once a week, often more because we’d walk together several days a week.

    Lately I’ve been getting the brush off from her. Over the last few weeks, she’s stopped initiating plans. We still see each other often because our kids do several of the same extracurricular activities and we have mutual friends who get together once or twice a month for dinner and other activities. When I do see her, she’s very polite, but completely disengaged. It’s a stark contrast to the connection we had before.

    I asked her in person if everything was okay and told her I was getting the feeling she was upset with me. She sidestepped the question then redirected our conversation to other surface topics. Later, I texted her reiterating the vibe I’m getting and admitted that maybe I was being oversensitive and needy. I asked if everything with okay with her, thinking maybe she’s going through something. Again, she talked around the question then said, “I wasn’t upset with you when I saw you today. I was actually upset about work.” She never directly answered to tell me if she’s been upset with me before that day though because honestly the cold vibe started way before the “work” explanation.

    I don’t know how much this plays into what’s going on right now, but we’re about as opposite as you can get. I’m more emotional; she’s more logical. I’m drawn to literature and arts; she’s drawn to science and math. I enjoyed this aspect of our friendship a lot, but now that something doesn’t feel right between us, I realize that we probably approach conflicts like this very differently. I feel the need to address issues when they arise, and she clearly doesn’t want to.

    Is there anything else I can do to address her coldness, or have I done what I can? Is she just politely brushing me off and clearly doesn’t see the value in discussing it with me? I guess I’m most scared of this. I’m starting to doubt the depth of our friendship, and I feel silly for thinking we were ever “close” friends. My husband says that I need to move forward and accept that this might not be the friendship I thought it was, but I’d still like to salvage it if possible. I don’t know if I can discuss it with her again. I’ve tried to bring it up twice and her responses (or non-responses) make me feel bad. It feels like I’m asking her for constant reassurance, and I don’t want to be that person. Do I stop trying on my end? I feel like I’m losing friend, and I’d like to at least know why.

    Thanks for your insight.

    Just call me Needy Nancy!

     

    Dear Needy Nancy,

     In last month’s question about whether to unfriend an ex-friend on Facebook, I heard from a woman who was equally frustrated about a close friend’s unilateral decision to end a friendship without an explanation. The two women had been best friends for thirteen years before the letter writer’s friend starting fading away in the same way you’re describing.

    But what happened next is something I would like to help you avoid. The letter writer spent the next five years attempting to communicate with her former best friend with the purpose of hearing what had gone wrong. She never quite got the answer she was looking for, and I’m not convinced that hearing a list of reasons would have made the end of that friendship any easier for the letter-writer. We (as in most people) generally do not like getting left behind and no explanation makes the abandonment more palatable.

    I have a feeling that there is nothing your friend can say to make you feel better about her decision to cut you out of her life. The reality is that you’ve invested time and emotional capital into the friendship and her sudden decision to fade away feels like a rejection. And I’m not making light of your feelings. I think many woman would agree (including me) that the rejection of a friend can feel significantly worse than a romantic breakup. In a monogamous relationship it’s understood that we can only have one special partner. But in friendships we can have many close relationships, even several “best” friends. It’s easy to obsessively ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me?,” when a friend, who can have many friends, decides to cut you out of her life.

    You’ve asked me and yourself an important question: Is there anything else I can do to address her coldness, or have I done what I can? It sounds to me like you’ve done what you can. It really does. We simply do not get to decide how another person behaves, nor do we get to decide the fate of our friendships. Your friend certainly has her reasons, and I bet only some of them fall on your shoulders. If she’s not returning calls or answering questions directly when you see her in person, then your only other choice is to write an email or a handwritten letter explaining your hurt and disappointment. But you should only do that knowing you may never get a response, or at least not a satisfying response. She may not tell you the truth. Or, more likely, she will tell you her truth, which could feel far from your experience of the friendship.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t try one last time to talk things out with her, but I am urging you to keep your expectations low and to use it more as a chance to potentially learn something useful for your other friendships. I happened to read two personal essays in October about dealing with the end of friendships and both illustrated how we can learn from our part in the endings, even if we’re the ones left behind. Check out Laura Turner’s, “How Do You Grieve a Friendship When You Never Wanted to Let it Die” in Jezebel. I also liked Kaitlin Ugolik’s, “How I Realized I Was the Toxic Friend,” in Refinery29. I would read all the comments on both pieces, too, which are full of women (and some men) commiserating about being the friend left behind. Most of us have been there.

    There is one area where I hope to alleviate some of your worry. You said, “I’m starting to doubt the depth of our friendship, and I feel silly for thinking we were ever “close” friends. My husband says that I need to move forward and accept that this might not be the friendship I thought it was . . . ”

     I only agree with half of your husband’s statement. Yes, I think you have to accept that the friendship as you knew it (and by the way, it was a really intense one in my estimation) is over, but that doesn’t mean this friend was not a close and intimate person in your life. It doesn’t mean that the friendship was fake. I want you to decide that two truths can exist at once. Yes, you two were important to each other and the two years you had together mattered to both of you because of the depth of the friendship. But also, the friendship as you knew it is ending and it rightfully hurts.

    Finally, “Needy Nancy,” I’m sorry you’re going through this loss. It is most definitely a loss and it’s okay to wallow in the pain of it for a while. But then (soon!) you have to look up and notice your other friends and think about the potential of future friendships. Each relationship, even the ones we can’t save, offers us the chance to grow and change for the better. And remember that this one friend drifting away does not make you an unworthy person.

    Thank you for sharing your experience here. I have no doubt that many readers will relate.

    Warmly,

    Nina

     

    Readers: How have you successfully moved forward after the end of a close friendship?

    **Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience released last week! You can buy a paperback or e-book here.

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.