Disclaimer: This story has a happy ending.
My phone buzzed. I glanced over on the night stand. It was one of my two best friends, I had known them two years and they had been my soul sisters when I didn’t know anyone in San Francisco. I hung out with them four to five days a week and texted them constantly. We went on trips together and rarely hung out with other people. We were all we needed.
As I rolled over, I noticed one of the two girls had sent me a screen shot of a text message conversation. My stomach sunk as I opened the text. The screen shot looked familiar. It was MY conversation with this particular friend from earlier that day. The screen shot was sent along with some comments about my conversation.
It wasn’t pretty. The text was clearly not meant for me, but rather, meant to be talking about me.
I was shell-shocked. Although this was the kind of thing the three of us did to other people, I didn’t think we did it too each other. I called these girls my best friends and my future bridesmaids. They were all I needed.
Rewind: This text to me (about me) came after a few weeks when these friends had seemed particularly frustrated with me. I had just started a new job and was busier than normal. I was having some personal issues that were occupying my head space. They didn’t seem thrilled that I had been so busy and preoccupied. One of our last interactions had consisted of me in tears in their living room, breaking down because of all the stress. One day, after a particularly snarky text, I asked if they were frustrated with me. I was told no and that I should stop worrying. I was feeling so guilty about being preoccupied that I brought over a homemade steak dinner the following week to ensure they know how much I cared.
After I received the text about me (to me), I was followed up with a series of jumbled excuses, but still, the message was clear. They had been talking about me. I started to distance myself because I didn’t feel like I could add another stressor into my life. This probably wasn’t the right decision. In hindsight, I wish I had been bold enough to have a face to face conversation. Still, I didn’t push it and didn’t get mad, and just hoped that it wouldn’t happen again.
Fast-forward a week or two, I got two more texts about me to me in conversations I had not initiated. Say whaaaat?! I was starting to think this was on purpose, or else, just really careless texting. Insert joke about butterfingers here.
Could they not talk to me in person? Could we not handle this like adults?
It was a somersault of lies and a whirlwind of gossip, I realized what they were doing to me is what I had done to others. They told me it was my fault for being too busy and that’s why they were pushed to talk behind my back. They said, I had driven them to this place.
I started thinking long and hard about my friendship with these girls. The time we spent together was mostly spent gossiping and complaining. It was full of negativity. We barely hung out with other people. I felt guilty if I did. I needed a friend to take care of me in this tough month or two, but instead I felt isolated.
How had I not seen this before?
I had spent years gossiping with the girls the way the gossiped about me. How had I thought I would never be the victim? It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have been any different.
This realization came with a level of fear and loneliness I have never experience, I live across the country from my family and had very few other friends. I decided it was worth it to start over and make new friends, rather than stay in a friendship that was so fundamentally unhealthy.
So, I broke up with my best friends.
It wasn’t easy. I spent the first few weekends coped up in my boyfriend’s apartment wondering why no one liked me. I was in tears every time I looked on social media of people having fun on a Saturday night. Obviously I was always welcomed to hang with my boyfriend’s friends, but I was always craving having girl friends.
Until, I started to make the effort. I texted and reached out to all of the amazing people I had come in contact with in my first few years in San Francisco. I decided to be patient and knew that I couldn’t just “create” a group of girls that I would naturally be best friends with. This would take time.
A year later, I found what I was looking for: friends who constantly built me up. Friends who were rarely negative. Slowly, I felt the void of having friends being filled.
Nonetheless, I will always be grateful for the original friends I had. I would have been so lonely without them.
I’m even more thankful I learned what healthy, happy friendships look like.
I love being surrounding by big groups of strong women, working out and working hard.