Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Our door is always open.

First off, no, the Husband and I have not broken up.  We are as happy as two men can be, and from the way we look into each other's eyes, we'll be together until we are both quite old.

It's taken a year for me to get over this.  But last year, I was dumped by by our best friends.  They ended our friendship in a way that may seem very "modern" but was very hurtful.

We have known this couple for 18 years - they were our best friends.  We saw them socially very frequently and we had many hours of good heartfelt friendship.  When "Tom" lost his mother I drove to his hometown to be with him.  When my mother died, both Tom and Ed were with us.

At Christmas, we'd give them a gift and Tom would be giddy and Ed's response would always be "I thought we agreed not to give gifts this year."  And that was a statement that you kind of pushed aside because Tom loved it, even if Ed felt like we had had a conversation that we had never had.

They were invited to all of our parties and our friends adored them.  And over the years, we all grew as people are won't to do.  They seemed to drift towards wine, and all the accessories needed to drink wine. 

"Accesories?" I asked?  "You need accessories?  You have a bottle, there's a glass; what else do you need."

"Well, you need to aerate the wine so you use this aerator, and you decant it into this crystal decanter, then when you are done there is this cotton wand that fits in the decanter..." And Tom went on and on.

Since neither the Husband and I drink wine except maybe once or twice a year, we figured it was natural that we wouldn't understand this zeal.  And there were other places where we drifted in different directions. 

Of the two, Tom was the more gregarious, Ed was the one more likely to be rigid in his outlook.   And whenever they stepped over the line into the grey area of things that hurt, which wasn't often, we looked the other way as we hoped they would with us.  We would take them out to dinner, and pay, but Ed always insisted on separate checks.

Still, we always had fun with them.

When we told them that we were moving, though, something very definite happened.   They seemed to detatch from us.  

They would say that they were coming down and then never show.  They would make plans and then cancel. Phone calls stopped being returned.  We were hurt, and I let them know it.  I mean if you say you are going to be someplace and one of you is postponing an eight hour drive so he could enjoy sometime with your best friends only to have them not show up, wouldn't you communicate that hurt? Things got better before we left and we were offered the chance to stay with them whenever we were in town.  We had gotten over the hurdle.

After we moved, we took them up on that.  We brought them treats from Baltimore, supplied our own food, replenished the coffee we drank and left the bedding in place as instructed by Ed.

When they came to visit us, though, things seemed off.  On the Saturday noon of Memorial Day Ed announced that they wanted to drive to the Ocean City to poke around, I told him that was a really bad idea.  The roads to "The Shore" are notorious on holiday weekends, and the bridges back up.  If you are heading east and don't want to lose two or three hours, you have to leave early in the morning because traffic is unbearable.   "If you want to go, you can try it, but you'll spend more time in traffic than at your destination."  So they stayed, and we found things to do.   We showed them the city and the things we had found.

In subsequent visits, things seemed off, calls started not getting returned.

In December, 2014 when I knew I was traveling back home in April, I called to see if I could hang out at their house.

No return call.

In February, I called again to see how they were.  No return call.

The husband called in March because he was concerned.  No return call.

With the trip coming up and my hotel booked, I called one last time to Ed, said that I hoped his mother was OK, that we were concerned.   I wanted to take them out to a nice meal - pick the place and the night.   There was no return call.

There was a text message in which I was admonished for being a horrible person.  Over and over, Ed called me rude.  Ed said since I hadn't understood the message of their silence he was going to spell it out.  They had hated their trip to see us.  For three years they were losing patience with me. Both he and Tom found me unpleasant, in three different statements, Ed convicted me of "rudeness".  They no longer thought of me as a friend.  "That is our decision."

My immediate response was "If there was something wrong, why didn't you say anything. And if it went on for three years, why didn't he say something?"  I also said  "You are still our friends.  We love you.  The door is always open."

And that message generated silence that spoke loudly.

The husband was so hurt that he came home from work early.  We both cried.  It was like like being dumped.  Like someone killing you pet.  Like some you loved dying.  We both felt horrible for days, weeks and months. 

At my next psychologist appointment, I showed him the text.  His expression was one of astoundment.

"This isn't about you.  This is about this person.  This is about this person being unable to express himself to other people.  This about this person thinking it is easier to walk away than try and resolve a difference.  Frankly, this is a damaged person.  But I can honestly say that this is the first time I have seen this done in a text message. And it stinks."

Shrink went onto explain what would drive a person to do this, like this.  But this post isn't placing all the blame on Ed and Tom.  Relatiosnhips are tow-way streets.  Between two people, there is a fifty fifty split in who is responsible for the dynamics.  And when its a couples friendship, that is a four way 25% split.  But the one thing I know from years of therapy is that a big part of emotional maturity is being able to accept criticism while being able to discuss the other side of the equation takes calm, proper approach.  Telling someone who is your friend that they have offended or hurt you is a risk because it can hurt people.  So I can understand why someone would rather walk away than expose themselves to risk.   

So when I went back to Ohio and our friends welcomed me back, first question on the tip of their tongues was "How are Tom and Ed?"

And honestly, I just showed them the text.  I figured that Ed 's words could speak for themselves.  People seemed universally shocked.  But I never bad mouthed either of Tom or Ed.  What could be gained?  It was their decision.

One friend said "Well we like them, would you mind if we stayed friends?"  You know, my immediate internal reaction was why would you after you've seen how they treated us?  But then the truth came out of my mouth "We don't hate them, we didn't cut the cord, Ed did.  That's between Ed and I, not you and them."  I mean you like to think that your friends are on your side, and the truth was these folks were on my side, but they were alos on Tom and Ed's side. "It's not like junior high where you can be their friends and not mine or vice versa.  And you should never have to ask of one friend approves of another."  Frankly, if they had become hostile to Tom and Ed, that would hurt Husband and I more.

"What if I talked to them about this?"

I liked that she wanted to fix it, but I her not to say a word.  Please, say nothing.  Do nothing.  This is something that Ed and Tom and Cookie and Husband need to work through. "Enjoy their company, don't ruin it with bringing us into it."

It's been a hard year.  When it came to sending Christmas Cards, we did, again with a note saying we hope that they were OK, that our door was still open.

A year later, the door is still open, but the hurt has never left.  They're still our friends to us.  And our other friends have asked if we have heard from them, and I shake my head and simply say "We would love to; our door is always open."

I could say that I don't miss them, we do.  But at the same point, they know the door is open.  And when they choose to knock, we'll embrace them.  And if not, well, that's the way life worked out.

And when I go back to Ohio for our summer visit and we see them, it will be "Hi," and "just so you know, the door is always open.  When you're ready to make a date, call us.  Take care, we have to meet our friends, B' bye."


  1. A strange situation. It almost sounds like one of those stereotypical situations in which one party asks "How did I offend?" and the other replies, "Well, if you don't already know I certainly am not going to tell you!"

    The kind of weird rudeness you received is inexcusable, and as far as I can see, it's their loss.

    1. Yeah, games people play. You know if he just would have said Cookie...., then one, thank you for telling me that I stepped on you toes, let me apologize, and what can I do to make it better. But yeah, evidently I am supposed to be a mind reader. How I was I supposed to know that he was an elephant: long on memory and short on verbal skills?

  2. :(

    you are in mourning for something that was special to both of you. many of my friends have gone through similar circumstances. all I can say it "it's them, not you and your spouse".

    1. And its probably why its taken me a year to write about it.

  3. People. No matter how long you know them, you never really do "know" them, it seems. Similar has happened to me - maybe not with people who I was so close to, admittedly - and it smarts for a while. I am at a loss to advise anything but "forget them, they're obviously not worth the angst". Jx

    1. How do you forget two people that were as close to you as brothers? I for one tore up a codicil to my will...

  4. It's so odd. Odd bc this happened to my husband and myself 2-3 years ago. I was great friends for DECADES and it started with getting dumped as a FB friend. I was told it was bc "sometimes I say in appropriate things" (which is true) and his family is on FB w him. Yet 2 he's friends w two dozen drag queens. But he dropped the bf too - who IS the nicest person in the world. He moved close to where we live (he was from out of town) and never told us. We've never heard from him. I'm not proud - I admit, I'm still bitter.

    1. I am simply hurt. I still feel like I was sucker punched in the gut. If I were the "rude" person he made me out to be, well, then, there would be revenge. But you don't hurt people you care about. But I will never understand it.

  5. I think you're being incredibly generous with that Open Door policy; I'd just skip right to the b'bye part. And why send a text like that except to be hateful? More evidence for my theory that we all get weird as we get old.

    1. When you love your friends, love love them. After years of emotional abuse by my friend "Nikki" and her behaviors, I had to draw the line. But at least we both knew where the pther is coming from. I still love her, but I can't be around her.

  6. Oh Cookie, I'm so sorry you're feeling hurt. People can be so damn hard to fathom. I'm glad to see you're taking the road. It seems we've all been there but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

    1. Well, it took sometime to make it to the high road. A lot of sessions with the shrink. When someone hurts you, its natural for ypur child self feel like you want to strike back. But that isn't going to fix anything. The only thing that would fix this is for Ed to address this like an adult and simply talk to me. But he'll never do it. He is his mother and I have seen her cut people from her life and I have seen him cut others with the same emotionless precision. Here's the lesson though, one day he's going to excise one too many people, and then he'll wonder why he's alone.

  7. I am willing to put money on the fact that you and your husband had nothing to do with this. Suppose for the sake of argument that your insecure friend is really, really insecure, to the point where, if his spouse says anything nice about another man, he feels very threatened by it. So threatened that he feels it would be better to end the friendships than risk having his spouse notice that other men are more kind, funny or attractive than he is.

    I mention this because I lost friends this way.

    Generous, loving people deserve other generous loving people to have as friends. Insecurity of this magnitude makes friendships too unstable and unsafe, and I hope that if they do make a comeback, that therapy was involved on their side and a more mature friendship evolves.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I am inclined to believe that I stepped on some toes. When you are friends for as long as we have been, it is natural for anyone to say something, do something. And when Ed wouldn't get his way, I would push the issue. Or if they bought a bag of widgets, maybe I said "What are you going to do with all those widgets?" Maybe I misread a social clue. Who knows. But if I did cross a line, he never called and said "Hey, remember the other night? That hurt." So I couldn't apologize. Relationships are always 50/50. But when you don't say anything, then the relationship is 0/100% in blaming someone else, and 100/0% in self rightousness when you cut the cord.

  8. Brother, I feel your pain. We were dropped by a couple we were very close to for some unknown reason. We tried to get to find out what was wrong several times to no avail. It may not be the most mature response but on the rare occasions when I see one of them I just keep walking. I don't see the point in having a false and gratuitous moment of idle chit-chat if the other party has no intention of maintaining the friendship. If they want to restart the friendship fine but until then I'll just keep moving on.

    1. I understand. Really, I do. I would be pleasant, but unless they signaled first it would be "You're looking well. Call us - same number, ta ta..."