The Two-Faced Friend

“We’re not even friends anymore”

The two-faced bitch, says, and I’m not sure who exactly she means.

I am certainly trying, so hard, to stay friends with her, even when I can feel her bad decisions crushing down on me.

She has yet to realize that you are who you hang out with. She says whatever she thinks you want to hear so that you, so that anyone will stay, and then once you leave she will say the same things she said to someone else about you to someone else, just trying to convince everyone that she is worth it because you are not.

I am tired of this. I am tired of thinking she will someday be better, will someday even try. She is not the depression of quiet moments and small smiles that used to be much bigger. She is the thrice daily Facebook posts where everything is the worst day ever, and it’s all just too much.

It has been too much for years, but when you point out to her that she has piled it on, she hoards her drama and her decisions even closer.

She is the depression that drags you down and takes you with her because she doesn’t want to get better. She wants you to magically fix her without any effort on her part required. She doesn’t realize how much work it is for those of us still trying.

She will tell us that she has cut hurtful people out of her life, and then she ditch us to hang out with them. She will tell us she knows that it is wrong, but she just cannot get away. She chooses to stay.

Her poor best friend- her real best friend, since the time they were children- finally agreed to go back out to a bar with us after almost a year away. It was the place where she had met her current boyfriend; where they had fallen in love and announced to all of us that she was pregnant- before that life was taken away. She is lonely and uncomfortable at this bar, but she is trying.

And what does the two-faced bitch do?

Leaves her best friend alone with a group of people she’s met only once or twice to go and talk shit about us in the corner with the other friend.

“Because she needs me,” she says, their serpentine arms entwining each other.

They wear matching shirts. It is as if the past year had never happened. As if the friend had never said things like,

“I think I could break them up” when looking at the two-faced bitch and her husband.

She would leave her children overnight, texting my old friend in the morning telling her that she would have to get the boys ready for school; no thank you, no rent paid, and shit talking whenever my friend’s back was turned. The rest of us tried, so hard, multiple times. She is so desperate for friends she will do anything to have anyone.

We are trying to finish school and get jobs. We struggle, grow and improve ourselves and our relationships. We are the bad guys for not being able to help her out of bed. We have given her advice, but because we do not physically show up to do it for her we are not enough.

It is okay to have bad days. It is okay to ask for help. We would love to help. But pushing the people away who are rooting for you to improve, only hurts yourself. It builds walls between us, between her husband, between the person she is now and the person she could be if she didn’t keep holding herself back.

She sinks into petty drama and slowly, the slippery slope slides out from under our own feet. So, we take a step back from her, from the name-calling and the rumor spreading and the judgment, and then she posts again how she has no one, no one will ever love her. She uses her toxicity as a bludgeon, victimizing herself. We aren’t just feeling guilty we are going crazy.

She got in a fight at a funeral. She went out to the mall and bought a new dress. A shiny, sparkly dress for the funeral, and then asked me if I thought her thigh-high karaoke boots were appropriate.

“This is not your day. It does not matter what you wear as long as you are was there for your friend.” I told her.

She is the type of person to post selfies and hashtags them. Sad.

There are times when she is playful and fun, and I miss my old friend, but the moments are too fleeting and far between. They are rooted in a different time and a different place.

She refuses to watch tv shows with real people because she “might get emotionally attached.”

After three of the four of us settled down and stopped going out, stopped being involved and overinvested and just… calmed down, she went back to the old crowd. She was the only married one out of the three of us, but she would dare the guys in the group to flirt back with her and then she would get mad that they had only responded in kind to her flirtations.

I shared a meme about settling down, joking that I had become boring.

“This is totally me” she commented, from the bar, surrounded by people her husband didn’t feel comfortable with while he was at drill for the weekend.

That was not her, and it bothered me that she said that. It bothered me that she continued to think she wasn’t the problem, that all the smoldering wreckage she’d thrown gasoline and matches on wasn’t from her actions. She pretended she had no agency, so she didn’t have to admit she was making incorrect choices.

We had all worked so hard to stop with the gossip, the unnecessary misunderstandings, and miscommunications.  I felt by acting like everything was okay, that bridges weren’t built, she was invalidating our hard work. She wasn’t just like us. Not anymore.

We were all trying to grow bigger than our small towns. She is perfectly content in this place, as long as nothing changed.

She gave us relationship advice and then verbally beat the shit out of her husband. When we’d call her out for her selfishness and double standards. Her husband would rush in and say that we were the bad guys. She wasn’t okay. How dare we.

It was just too much. She would panic if he didn’t call her back within five minutes of sending a text, then tell one of us when our boyfriend disappeared for almost six hours, missing plans, that he was just “being a guy and it was fine.”

She worked with one of our friends at the time, who called her, begging her to come in and cover her. She wanted to find her boyfriend, to make sure he was okay. He had been out on the river that day, there was no contact. It was past time to come home. The two-faced bitch didn’t feel like going. Had the roles been reversed, had the friend not been able to make it for her, we would have been slandered and outcast. She threatened to drown herself in a bathtub because no one could hang out with her once.

It is hard to deal with because part of the problem is the clear mental issues behind the girl with two answers to every question with a mentality that it is always out of her control.

I don’t want to judge her for her panic attacks over issues that don’t cause panic attacks in me. Every mental illness is different. Everyone handles it differently. But in a group full of people suffering from abandonment issues and depression, her actions stand out.

She uses her feelings to wound others. She lashes out. She is never wrong, only misunderstood.

Even when she knows she is wrong, she cannot apologize without excusing herself or turning it around, back on us. Everything is a false equivalency. It is the toxicity, the lack of empathy towards us, that has turned us away.

No one has problems like she does, even though she is the only one that is financially stable and relationship-secure in the group. Her family has had health issues recently, and we were there.

Her family has had health issues recently, and we were there.

She yelled at me for being late to her wedding rehearsal because I had a test that day, but I showed up anyway.

We have continued to try despite the sheer exhaustion and hopelessness we face.

She has no interest in changing. She is unhappy, but everything is from an external source. We all left because we didn’t want to become like her, but now, leaving her to her bad decisions, I feel like such a shitty friend. I feel as though I am supposed to keep banging my head repeatedly, incessantly against a brick wall while she complains that,

“You don’t understand how hard I have it.”

Two of her best friends had miscarriages this year. Both are in long-distance relationships. Two have full-time jobs and are still trying to go to school. I am in the middle of a court case for child custody. Yet it is the girl with the part time job and devoted husband who gets upset and calls him stupid for forgetting he made plans week ago, and couldn’t just drop them to take her out on a date. He would not have been able to take her out anyway, she has already spent all their money on a shopping addiction.

I am a shitty friend. I abandoned her to her vices and the people who take advantage of her. She brings out the worst in me.

I would like to be strong enough to support her without letting her affect me, but I do not believe it can be done. I do not want to live in a world of false friends and empty words. I try to speak the truth to her, but I can only say so much because anything negative sets her off.

If she is choosing to spend time with people she has told us before that she knows are bad for her, then I would much rather she just went and did it without bringing up things like,

“We barely hang out.”

We all barely hang out. She is back in the crowd covering up affairs. She hangs around people she supposedly hates and cannot stand. And I cannot blame her for that.

We are too busy for her and too exhausted.

There aren’t any quiet moments of shared memories and fun times anymore. It is all hurt feelings and wounds not healed under the surface, while she acts as though things are fine. We barely speak. That makes me sad.

There was a time when we spoke every day. We told each other everything. I can’t trust her now not to tell my secrets to the group so that she can fit in or score points. It is as if everyone in the group took a small step forward and she stayed behind.

She has no hobbies or interests outside of Disney Junior cartoons or going out with her friends, she wonders why we have nothing in common anymore. She is too depressed to do anything. Her mother, her husband, and the rest of us push her to use and trust in her psychologist and psychiatrist. We believe that until she is willing to accept that she is not always right and it is not always about her that her depression will not go away.

I know that it is a terrible thing not to like yourself.

We got along so well because we shared the same fears. The same insecurities. Not being around her has taken a weight off my chest.

I want to be there for her, to help her, but I have unfollowed her on Facebook.

On her rough days she doesn’t text me she needs a friend, she blasts it on her page. It seems as though it doesn’t matter to her who is there, just as long as someone is. I cannot blame her for that, but I can remove myself from participating.

One of my friends has already taken themselves out of the equation. Some are keeping silent to preserve the relationship with her husband,  hoping either she will change or their marital status will.

I feel as though we have all turned our backs on her. We have given up on her. The quiet group of stay at home and play video games, does not have much in common with someone who tells us they don’t have enough money to pay their bills and then goes out to a bar and buys three or four drinks.

It is part of this area and this lifestyle. Our brilliant and talented friend, her husband, is settling for basic jobs because he can’t disturb her carefully fabricated life built upon bullshit.

I want her to get better, not even for our friendship, but so she can be happy again. I want her to feel a sense of purpose, happiness, and fulfillment. I want it to be easy for her to roll out of bed. I want her to be able to watch TV shows like the rest of us do, or a video game, or even a board game. I want her to achieve the attention span of a fourth grader so that not another game night is drawn short by her becoming bored. I want to go out to the bar with her, without there being drama because of who’s there and who is not. I want to be able to see my friend again.

But until she can accept that people can care about you without agreeing with you, I have to stay away.

I am irritated and annoyed in her presence. I wait for her smile to fade and her eye rolling to commence as she bitches about the little things, the big things, and everything in between.

I want her to see that people love her and care about her. I want her to know that it still counts even if they can’t be there physically. She once told a friend to quit her job- she was the only one working at the time- because the friend was on call and couldn’t leave town with her.

My two-faced friend has her moments.

Many times, we have shared a look over something dumb. We appreciated a laugh together, and we filled each other in on our lives. We do love each other, and if something serious were to happen, I’d like to think we would be there for each other. But you’re not supposed to think. You are supposed to know.

The root of friendship is the inherent trust that a friend will be there.  With things the way they are, we just can’t count on that anymore. We know that some of her behavior is legitimate. It is hard to deal with others when you need self-care time, and she honestly does need and deserve a fair bit. But other times, it is just her inability to walk away from the bad influences in her life.

She knows she is ditching us, she knows this reflects badly on her and is shitty, but she does it anyway. She is too stuck where she is. Maybe that makes me the toxic friend for ditching her and giving up on her. If this is my fault, then I will shoulder that blame.

At times, I feel that it is my fault. Others in our group have assured me that I have tried harder than rest. The point is, I probably could keep trying but…if you’re miserable can you help someone else?

I feel lying to her by being there, acting like it’s okay when I don’t think it is, is the same thing her fake friends would do. I don’t want to hurt her, but I want, to be honest with her. I never want to lie. But by letting all of this build up inside of me and just fading away, it’s as if I have lied to her.

Friendships are complicated.

They are always mutating because of circumstantial things that are both incredibly fragile and terrifyingly strong. I am two-faced for letting her crash and hit rock bottom alone. If I am truly going to be her friend I need to be incredibly stable or else her weaknesses will creep like vines into my cracks and break us both down again.

Perhaps in time, our new faces will be able to be friends again. 

 

Photo Credit: ::RodrixParedes:: Flickr via Compfight cc

Anna Kaye-Rogers

Previous work has been published in Illinois Valley Community College River Currents 2015. Studies English, Creative Writing, and Professional Communications at Northern Illinois University. Currently raising one human and three animal girls with the help of a wonderful boyfriend.

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