I’ve never had to break up with a friend. Usually things just fade, one or both are perpetually “busy.” Part of the pact that is “Midwest nice” is that people get the message and it’s finished.
But I finally did have to break up with a long-time friend. Many things had been simmered for many months. I no longer found our friendship rewarding and felt annoyed after meeting with him. It finally blew up mid-December. I told him “let’s talk after the holidays.”
He texted. When I reminded him of the boundary, he said “Oh. I thought that meant no calls.” We had never been “calling” friends-who is anymore? I again asked him not to contact me at all. He texted again. He sent photographs.
He proved, again and again that boundaries meant nothing to him. I put up with more from him than I ever would have from a lover.
Now, though, I was done. The New Year came, I gathered his things and scheduled a meeting. Apparently he assumed it had blown over, because he tried to hug me shortly after I arrived.
At that point, I handed him his things, told him I could no longer be his friend, uttered a version of “it’s not you, it’s me” and walked out the door. The whole thing took about 45 seconds.
As I walked home in the chilly mist, it felt like a bolder had left my heart. In the month I had spent ghosting him, I never missed him. I should have told him in mid-December.
Someone who is close to the situation told me it was “harsh” and then congratulated me for doing it.
The weekend passed and there was no contact. Maybe he finally got it.
On Monday, my oldest friend blew into town unexpectedly. We were having dinner. I didn’t even read his text when it arrived. I send back “Please leave me alone.”
When I got home I tried to read the garbled string of a dozen or so letters-no spaces. It was Wheel of Fortune in Salvador Dali land. I gave up. But my brain didn’t.
A half an hour later, it hit me. He was in either a hotel pool (unlikely) or the hospital.
Did my action trigger something? Did he do something stupid?
What I did not think, though was “is this my fault?” Then I noticed I didn’t think that. That was the moment I understood that I had done the right thing in breaking up with him. I was free of him. The endless drama was finished.
At almost midnight he texted that he was feeling better.
The next day, he texted again. He needed outpatient surgery to correct the problem. He would be perfectly fine in a day or two.
I’ve never texted back.
The first time he referred to my family-the one I nurtured and created for decades-as his “chosen family” I bristled and found it awfully presumptuous. One should be invited or it should be agreed upon by both, not declared by the outside party!
I know now I am finished getting adopted by stray people.