I should have seen the warning signs long before.
Over 10 years ago I broke up with a boyfriend and hit rock bottom. I felt depressed and started to hang out with a questionable crowd. During endless phone calls with my BFF, I talked way more than I listened and I am sure my melodrama was pretty annoying. I don’t recall exactly what I did to prompt it, but she slapped me with an ultimatum: Get some help or I am not sticking around.
At the time, I didn’t see how woefully unsupportive that was. Her idea of “tough love” was actually just selfish. We didn’t talk for almost five years (even though I did go to therapy). One day, I reached out to try to repair our relationship. I apologized for my behavior and told her I hoped we could be friends again. She replied with an air of smug superiority that she had been waiting years for me to me apologize. I never got an apology in return. I should have stood up for myself. I should not have accepted her friendship without a reciprocal expression of remorse. But I missed her terribly, so I missed the opportunity to set a solid foundation for our relationship.
Four years later, I met the man who would one day become my husband. I told my BFF a week after meeting him that I was not sure how I knew, but that this man would always be in my life somehow. Her response was, “I see some old patterns here and I am concerned. I think you should go and get some help.” Talk about a buzz kill! Even if I was living in a dreamland, haven’t we all when we met someone new? I don’t remember that ever meaning you were unstable and needed therapy!
A little over a year ago, I moved in around the corner from her. It was wonderful. We hung out all the time. Little did I know she was keeping a mental list of things that she could attribute to me being crazy. And you know what? I can be intense and opinionated and passionate. If you’re looking for fodder to call me crazy, I’m sure you’ll find it. In the words of Dave Chappelle, “The worst thing to call somebody is ‘crazy.’ It’s dismissive. I don’t understand this person, so they’re crazy. That’s bullshit!” Calling me crazy is more of a reflection on you, IMHO.
In any case, I became pregnant with twins, and midway through the pregnancy it became high-risk: I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. I felt extremely anxious about the babies’ health, my health, how two new siblings were going to affect my son, our finances, the delivery, and how I was going to nurse twins. One night, my blood pressure shot up into dangerous territory, and the doctor on-call advised me to run to the hospital immediately for monitoring. My husband had to stay home with our son so I drove myself to the hospital. After a sleepless and nerve-wracking night in the hospital, I was still on edge when my BFF called the following night to come over.
She knew I had been in the hospital the night before, and for reasons I will never understand, she felt compelled to discuss a difficult predicament my family was in that did not involve her. She raised her voice, pleaded her case, told me that I had to listen to her, and said that I was being unreasonable. (I was being unreasonable?!?!) My heart started racing and it became hard for me to breathe. I asked her to leave. How dare she come into my house knowing I was trying to keep my blood pressure down and upset me like this? Could it not have at least waited a few weeks until I gave birth to the twins? My husband came running when I started to yell, terrified I was going to give myself a stroke or miscarriage. He asked her to leave too and still she refused. Eventually, he got her to wait outside until he could come and listen to her blow off steam.
I wrote her a pair of emails over the next few days explaining how hurt I felt. No response. She then had the audacity to email my husband with a link to a perinatal depression website, insist I had a problem, and proclaim that she could not stick around unless I got help. Sound familiar?
Well, if she had read the article she sent, she would have found that it recommended that friends and family support the person in distress — not give them ultimatums and desert them in their hour of need. So, even if her amateur, unsolicited diagnosis were correct, she did the exact opposite of what was recommended. I would never have turned my back on her if the tables were turned. I would have stayed by her side the whole time. With her ultimatum ringing in my ears, I finally knew with 100% certainty that I could no longer tolerate her ultimatums, disregard for my wellbeing, and lack of contrition. Our friendship was officially over.
It was hard to believe that the friendship I had treasured was a sham, and it pained me to realize that she would be wholly absent from my life. I felt betrayed, cheated, and more than a little foolish for having, over the course of 10 years, gone from one bad breakup to another.
Cara Paiuk is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many other publications. She is also an entrepreneur, photographer, future book author (stay tuned, folks!), and of course, proud mother to a gaggle of ragamuffin redheads. You can follow her on Twitter @carapaiuk
This originally appeared on Medium. Republished here with permission.