How Do You Move Forward when Your Best Friend Lets You Down?
It happened. The thing that I have wanted for years. My best friend told me she was moving to the state I live in. That we would finally live in the same zip code. Even better, she asked to stay with me for a few months until she got on her feet out here. I couldn't believe my luck! It was a dream come true..for the first week. Then things went terribly wrong. But maybe I should start from the beginning.
We met late 2004. I was working at Subway and she was "the new boss." I remember the first time that she arrived. I straightened my hat, put on my brightest smile and got ready to welcome her. As I turned around to say hello, she walked right past me without so much as a nod in my direction. Then she opened the back door, lit a cigarette and began yelling into her phone. I was terrified of her.
It wasn't until a few months later that she really began to open up and we found that we had much in common. We loved books, had the same taste in music, dreamed of traveling and secretly loved school. We were made for each other. Over the next year, quirky gifts were exchanged, mixed CDs were made and books were reviewed. Then the unthinkable happened. My boyfriend (whom I lived with) decided one day that he was moving back to the state where his mom lived. It was halfway across the country. A place I had never imagined myself living. Yet, I couldn't say no when he asked me to come. I was in love and it promised to be the adventure of a lifetime. I was happy to make a fresh start in a foreign place, but extremely worried that I would lose the best friendship that I had ever had. We promised to keep in touch.
In 2006, she flew out to see me for the first time. It was a weekend visit, but we absorbed as much as we could of it. We drove on a random fancy to Oklahoma, no real destination in mind. We got lost and we got silly and we laughed a lot.
The following year she flew out for a week. She will tell you to this day that it was the best week of her life. And the most life-changing. By day, we were adventurers, visiting places we had never been before. We drove to a mall two hours away and took pictures in a photo booth. We drove to a lake and sat beneath a shady tree with our picnic lunch. We drank and danced all night. I cannot describe how much fun I had that week. There are no words for those memories. Even the pictures will never do it justice. But she left with more than just pictures. She left with a new outlook on her life. She promptly broke off her three year engagement and made plans to move in with me halfway across the country. In a state she never imagined she would live either. Every week she called me with ideas for decorating the room I had set up for her in my house. We discussed the moving specifics, the timeframe, etc. But then she stopped answering her phone. Weeks went by and I didn't hear from her. I became worried. She finally called me and told me that she wasn't coming. That she had changed her mind and thought it was best to stay put for awhile.
I was hurt. Shocked. I didn't understand why she had suddenly changed her mind. I tried to communicate this to her, but she didn't get it. Instead she became defensive and we argued. The first time in our friendship that we had ever argued. There were miscommunications. And there were a lot of tears. We didn't talk for several weeks after that.
Eventually our friendship recovered. Things went back to normal. A few months later, she reported that she had fallen in love. She got engaged again. Not long after, I got my wedding invitation in the mail. I was to be a bridesmaid. I trekked back to my home state for the wedding and it was a beautiful occasion. They seemed happy enough. Only weeks after they married however, problems began to arise. He was a liar, a cheater and an emotional/mental abuser. She stuck it out for three years despite my pleas to get rid of him. During those helpless years, my life changed as well. I got married, changed jobs and had a baby. She was there for me and I was there for her.
A few months ago, she called me to tell me they were getting divorced. While I was thinking to myself, It's about damn time, she told me she was finally ready to make the move to me. I had long ago abandoned the hope that we would ever live in the same state together, so it was quite a shock to hear. She said that she had always regretted not moving. That she had always felt that her life could've been better if she did. I remained cautiously optimistic as we made plans yet again to help her move.
When she finally made it here three weeks ago, I felt as if I had won a trip to Disneyland. I imagined all of the things we could finally do together again. And we had an amazing first week. We talked and baked and shared music. It was just like the old days. Subtle hints of undoing began to arise however. She was offered an interview, but she kept putting off calling the company back. When I asked her about it, she said she was waiting for something better to come along. This was my first sign. Prior to moving, she said that she would take anything to start off and then work on finding her dream job afterwards. But here she was with a job opportunity and she wasn't even calling the company back. I tried not to push her too much. I trusted her. I believed she could make it happen and I vowed to help her in any way possible. The next week she flew to see a friend in Maine. I was discouraged because it didn't feel like the right time to leave. I felt that she should be focusing on her job search, but I wished her a safe trip and waited for her return. When she came back, she didn't seem concerned about the job situation. I asked her about the company that had called on the first week and she said that she wasn't going to call them back. That she didn't want to do that type of job.
She filled out several applications the first day back, but she never followed up with any of the applications she had filled out the first week. At first, I suggested nicely that she do so. Then I tried more of a stern approach. She would not budge. I recommended she try the temp agency if she didn't want to follow up on the other jobs just yet and she said it was a good idea. The next day, she received some bad news from a friend that had been watching her dogs back home. She said that she couldn't watch them anymore and that my friend would have to find a new foster parent for them. As she sat forlornly on the couch, I jumped into action. I utilized social media to work out a temporary home for the dogs. While I was doing so, she started saying that maybe she wasn't cut out for this, that maybe she should move back.
I tried to reassure her. I told her about the home for the dogs. I looked up new job postings online and wrote them down for her. I suggested the temp agency again. I gave a motivational speech. I all but begged her to try. But it was too late. I could see by the look on her face that she wasn't here anymore. In her head, she was already moving back. She was just calculating the steps to get her there.
I didn't know what else to say or to do. In a way, I felt I had failed her. In a way, I felt she had failed me. That she had failed herself. You can't move halfway across the country and expect everything to be perfect. You can't just sit back and hope that it will all fall into place. It doesn't work like that. I told her this through tear-filled eyes. There are no words to describe the pain I felt. No words could do it justice.
We spent the last few days, talking about it and not talking about it. Revisiting old memories and taking pictures to document the occasion. When she pulled out of the driveway on Saturday, I felt hollow inside. A part of me shut down. It still hurts to talk about it. It still hurts to talk to her. We talked today and it felt so forced. I felt terrible, because the entire time I was willing myself to get over it and resume a sense of normalcy, but I couldn't. Not yet.
I can say all day long that I just want her to be happy. That I want her to do what's right for her. And I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, feel that way. I do want the world for her. But I got my hopes up. And maybe that was my fault. Maybe I wanted it too much. Remember my analogy about Disneyland? It was like winning that dream trip and then being told a week later that there was a mistake, that you didn't win the trip after all. It's like someone swept the rug out from underneath you.
This is the second time I have suffered this disappointment and I'm just trying to figure out how to move forward. Wondering if I can even talk about this with her. Terrified that I will break something integral to our friendship by choosing to dwell on this reopened wound. More than anything, I'd just like to know why she didn't try. Why she froze. Was it fear? Or something else?
How have you coped with a major disappointment/event in your friendship?