As I traveled to a recent appointment, I saw a woman I can only describe as the doppelgänger of someone who was once a close friend of mine. The striking resemblance to my former friend startled me so much I almost spoke to her, but instead I just stared, which made her and then me obviously uncomfortable. The one thing that made it clear the woman standing in front of me wasn’t the person I had once known was that she was heavily pregnant, which is a stage of life my former friend has long passed. However, the style of her hair and the shape of her features could have made them twins.
The interesting thing is that the friendship I had with this former friend grew tremendously during her pregnancy with her second child. Before that, we did the usual things adult friends do while keeping each other at a comfortable distance: we hung out some weekends, went to the movies, and went shopping together, but during her pregnancy, she changed; she became more open and caring. I enjoyed this less critical and nonjudgmental aspect of her personality. I naïvely thought that this sensitive, empathetic side of her would become a permanent fixture and we would be friends until we reached old age. Unfortunately, after the birth of her child – and what I have to assume was the re-balancing of her hormones – she reverted to the person I’d known before, and being around her for more than a few hours at a time became difficult to bear.
I’ll never understand why some people believe it is okay to treat other people like crap and still keep the privilege of participating in their lives. Why anyone believes that as long as you apologize after making cutting remarks or insults all will be well again, until the next time they do the same, is beyond me. This woman’s behaviour towards other people was so harsh at times that witnessing it made me wince. We eventually went our separate ways because of a series of things she did to others and me where, even after having the negative and hurtful effects pointed out, she made light of the situations and felt we should act as if they hadn’t happened and move forward. As expected, that lack of acknowledgement and trivialization caused more hurt. For a long while after we cut ties, I missed spending time with her and being “auntie” to her children, but our values and beliefs about how to treat people were so different I couldn’t see a way back to fully trusting her and being open about my life. I believe that had I continued in our friendship that it would just have been a matter of time before more incidents arose and ended things.
A lot of time has passed and although I know her children are nearly grown and may not even remember me, I do think of them often; and after seeing this former friend’s doppelgänger, I felt the urge to reach out to see how she and her family are doing. Then I remembered her condescension at my past efforts to mend our relationship, and that I’ve run into her over the years since we stopped spending time together and how things always felt awkward and forced. I no longer feel comfortable sharing any of what is happening in my life with her because I don’t want to be subjected to her judgement or hear her disapproving tone. I think I made the right decision not to pick up the phone, but deep down I’ve been questioning how one short conversation could hurt…
Lily Allen – Friend Of Mine