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Rift with best pal feels like death

Sun., May 11, 2014

Dear Carolyn: So eight years ago, my best friend of 15 years – my maid of honor – basically told me, via email, no less, two months before my wedding, that she had other plans on my wedding day.

Because I got upset by that information, she stopped talking to me.

I was not a bridezilla. This is not a wedding issue. This is a friendship issue. For what it’s worth, she once convinced ME to take an Amtrak from D.C. to Seattle for a wedding – it was post 9/11, and no flights were possible – because she argued that weddings were a big life event.

I begged, pleaded, left sobbing voicemails, emails, etc., with no response. Cut me off without explanation. It felt like a death.

Unfortunately our mutual friends continue to be friends with her.

Given that such time has passed, how can I even expect our mutual friends to understand, much less take sides? But how do I move on? I am at the point where I just want to unfriend everyone because they tolerate such behavior. – Too Old for This Crap

What a terrible story, I’m sorry. It’s like a death with the added pain of intent – and without even the scant comfort a simple “why” can provide.

I can also see why you’re pushing yourself to “move on,” yet I don’t believe time has the only say here. An imperative to move on also comes from reaching the end of your options. I’m not sure you’ve done that.

Namely, you can ask a mutual friend what the heck happened. Yes, it’s ancient history, but that also means asking is much less charged.

You’re not guaranteed any answer, of course– but just asking to fill in some blanks? That’s within the bounds of friendship. Plus, knowing you haven’t tried everything to find peace is often what keeps a past event alive in your present.

Some groups do manage to stay intact when two members have a falling-out – when they’re held together by a lattice of strong and true individual friendships, and when the cause of the conflict is either gray enough for decent people to hold different views of what went wrong, or when it’s an oil-and-water issue, where there’s no mistreatment, there’s just incompatibility.

Your ex-best-friend’s actions seem too clear-cut and cruel to justify the continued loyalty of people who call themselves your friend – and even without filling in blanks, it does sound as if it would be therapeutic to unburden yourself of these people altogether.

First, though, at least consider whether any of these friends is one you can count on. Who’s the mensch?

The answer to that question alone might suffice: If no one fits this description, then there’s your relief, your permission to “unfriend everyone,” to say goodbye to people you can’t trust to care when you’re in pain, keep your confidences or tell you the truth.

If you do have a mutual friend sturdy enough to lean on, then give it a shot.

You might still ultimately cut these ties – or your query might precipitate it – but the missing information has the power to bring a more profound kind of peace: Could anything justify what she did, shunning you without paying any price among people who ostensibly loved you both?

Again – no guarantees, but you can ask. And I suggest you do, simply because both an answer and a non-answer have the power to set you free.


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