Several years ago, I drove down a road framed with multicolored autumn trees as sun splashed over the windshield of my PT Cruiser. I had rationalized buying this car new, but from day one it reeked of buyer’s remorse with its bright red confidence, and car payment I couldn’t at the time afford.
On the radio an NPR reporter shared that the average length of a friendship between women is 15 years. I thought about an old friendship. It was one born of a sisterhood in school, raised up in our professions, weddings, shared infertility struggles and matching divorces. I thought about how that friendship had ended abruptly when this dear friend of well, exactly 15 years, dropped me with no more consequence than watching an egg roll off a counter.
It happened one day after an uncharacteristic spat at lunch. We were arguing first about politics. We were on the same side, but I guess I wasn’t on the same side enough. The conversation moved from there to whether or not the anti-vaccinators (which neither of us were) had any real data on which to base their choices. This was long before COVID so the idea that the discussion could get so heated was a decade away from fathoming.
She stopped talking to me after that. Sent a nice note to my husband who had been managing her investment accounts for free, included a gift card as a thank you, and never spoke to me again.
Having no idea I was being excommunicated, I continued to text her this, that or the other to no returning ding. Eventually, my birthday came without a call or a text and then hers, to which three dots never even contemplated a response.
There was a time when the loss of this friendship would have sent me spiraling into a vortex of shame. But I no longer carried the fragility of a raw egg. I was boiled if you will, not in a hard way but in the way an egg boils underneath it’s shell – soft and flexible yet firm, holding its shape.
Rather than putting my focus on why she did this, what I did wrong, how I’d been wronged, or what this meant about me… the whole incident allowed me to pause and consider how I’d been feeling.
Like three dots flashing on a phone screen, I suspended any reaction and in that suspension it occurred to me that I had not been happy in this friendship for some time. The friendship harkened back to an emotionally equivalent time of when I bought the PT Cruiser; a time when I tried to feel worthy, but a time during which you might fit a Mack truck through my blind side.
This friendship served its purpose. It was a great ride. We laughed a lot. We commiserated. We shared ideas. When it happened, I wasn’t angry or hurt. My hands weren’t shaking, my heart wasn’t beating and I didn’t need to call another friend for validation.
I was no longer interested in being angry, or a victim in my life. I didn’t need to know why. As one of my other long-time friends likes to say, “It was what it was, whatever it was.”
My interest, was to maintain my shape and let her have hers, both of us perfectly, imperfect.
Too often, women get so caught up in being hurt, we fail to evaluate if whatever or whoever it is that hurt us, is someone or something we were enjoying in the first place. Letting go is a gift we can give and receive freely.