Loss, Closure, and Self-Respect

Loss, Closure, and Self-Respect

I lost a friend recently. Well, more than six months ago, but I somehow didn’t notice it at the time. It crept up on me. 

I thought she was busy with college. Then she seemed to have vanished from Facebook, so maybe that was because she was focusing on other things. She wasn’t replying to my blog comments, but maybe she had a backlog to work through? 

Eventually it dawned on me that she’d blocked me from everything except her blog (presumably because she couldn’t) and was not only not responding to my comments, but wasn’t even approving them. Everything I wrote just vanished the moment I pressed send. 

I didn’t know why. I still don’t. I went back through past conversations trying to figure out what went wrong, but it wasn’t like we argued. We had one disagreement in the past eighteen months that I can remember, but it was months before this and we’d made up. Shortly before she blocked me we’d been joking around on Facebook and I’d been sending her cat pictures. Why had she suddenly decided to cut me out? 

I remained subscribed to her blog for a long time and continued to comment, doing my best to show nothing but unwavering support in the hope that she’d reconsider. I guess that shows a lack of self respect — when someone ghosts you for six months, leaving you lying awake too anxious about what you might have done to actually sleep on multiple occasions, you don’t pick things back up where they left off should that person deign to speak to you. And yet I knew I would. Because I missed her. Because I didn’t understand why she stopped liking me. 

In a recent blog post she wrote that at the start of the year she’d cut a number of “toxic people” out of her life, people who had made her stomach twist when she saw them, people who weren’t making her happy. Since this coincided neatly with when she’d stopped speaking to me, I couldn’t help but feel this was about me. I mean, metaphorically: we never met in real life, so she never saw me, but my stomach twists in exactly the same way whenever I see her name now. 

The thing is, what keeps me up at night is not resentment that she cut me out of her life, although I miss her. It’s not anger at her, although I am angry. It’s partly sadness, because we were friends for years and then we just… weren’t. But it’s mostly anxiety. 

I have no idea what I did, but now I’m terrified that I am a toxic person. That other friends feel the same way. If I could unknowingly make someone feel so bad that after years of online friendship they decided the only thing to do was to cut me off without a word of explanation, then maybe I’ve done that to others. Maybe I’m doing it right now. Maybe I am a toxic person.

I hope I’m not. I don’t think I was in that situation — I tried so hard to be a supportive friend, even when we disagreed. I mediated arguments. I always tried to be the peacemaker. I sent cat pictures and we had inside jokes. We were there for each other when we each came out; it was when I came out for the second time that I missed her most, because I expected her to be there and she… wasn’t. 

So I don’t think I was a toxic person, but this friend seemed to think I was, and thus something must have gone wrong. How many other people am I hurting without even realising it? 

Maybe, in the end, it’s not me who is the toxic one. The misery and anxiety I’ve felt trying to understand why this friend would treat me in this way have been awful. I’ve cried about it. I’ve stayed up half the night dwelling on it. I’ve tried to contact her, to say, “I’m sorry, what did I do, can I fix it?” I’ve persisted for months even though I know I should give up because I valued our friendship — apparently more than she did. 

After reading that blog post tonight where she talked about those toxic people and how much a relief it was to be rid of them, I realised that she’d managed to upset me for the umpteenth time and I needed to let go. To unsubscribe from her blog (severing the last tie we have, since she blocked me everywhere else). To stop trying. Because maybe she’s in the wrong. Maybe she’s being unfair. Maybe she’s not even talking about me and she cut me off for entirely different reasons. Maybe I wasn’t a toxic person at all. 

But she doesn’t want me around anymore, and although I miss being friends with her (a lot), I need to have the self-respect to stop making myself miserable on the off-chance she might one day decide it’s worth acknowledging my existence again. 

I’ve only ever lost one friend to an abrupt cut of of all contact, and even that didn’t involve either of us blocking the other, plus it was initiated by an argument about some very real issues which he refused to acknowledge. It sucked, mostly because of the lack of closure that silence left me with, and he was definitely a toxic person — the panic attacks I had because of him were testament to that. This friendship, though, has had even less closure, because I didn’t even realise it had ended until some time after the fact. 

I guess I’m hoping that blogging about this will be the closure I need, even though it’s not the same as getting to the bottom of what I did or did not do. I’ll never know the answer to that and I’ll probably always wonder. I just needed to say it. 

And maybe one of you has been in a similar situation with online friends (or IRL ones, though there you can speak face to face and you’re more likely to have mutual acquaintances who might be able to explain things), and you’ll have some advice for me. Like, how do I stop feeling crappy? At what point do I realise that if she decided to speak to me again, I wouldn’t just pick straight up where we left off? When do I stop sitting here like a kid forgotten at a train station, waiting for her to come back, even though she doesn’t deserve it because she’s made me feel awful? 

That was rhetorical. But I’ll take answers if you’ve got them. 

(This is one of those posts I feel like I might regret writing, but it’s 2.30am and I’m miserable, so it’s happening. Plus it’s not like she’ll read it, given that she hasn’t acknowledge my existence all year. So it’s safe in that respect. I’m just not that good at baring my soul until I eventually do and tell everything. It’s all or nothing with me.)

So yeah. That happened, and it sucks, and I’m not okay about it but I don’t think I can start being okay until I talk about it and make the decision to acknowledge that, like, it actually is over, on my end as well as hers. Which I haven’t done until now. I haven’t even unsubscribed from her blog yet because she’s meant to be posting something next week that I’m really interested in and apparently I’m too much of a masochist not to walk away. 

I should go to bed. It’s ridiculously late and at this rate I’ll spill ever secret emotion I’ve ever had for the entire world to read. Which doesn’t exactly sound like a road to not getting hurt, if I’m honest with you. 

So I’ll take myself and my feelings away and try and sleep. Maybe it’ll be easier now I’ve got this off my chest. 

15 thoughts on “Loss, Closure, and Self-Respect

  1. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’ll take time to get past, but it sounds like you’ve only just found out about being purposefully cut out, and about the idea that perhaps you were one of those “toxic people.” So, even though the relationship might have ended a while ago, the pain probably feels new and it won’t begin to fade right away. It will fade over time though.

    One thought I had about what she wrote, the part you describe here: “she’d cut a number of ‘toxic people’ out of her life, people who had made her stomach twist when she saw them, people who weren’t making her happy,” is that often that stomach-twisting feeling has as much (or more) to do with the person having the bad feeling (in this case your former friend) than with the person who has become a nexus of discomfort (possibly you).

    Her bad feelings about whomever she has cut out could just as easily be feelings of guilt over ignoring them, or discomfort at having moved on to focus on other friendships or other aspects of life, and realizing deep down that she’s failed to deal honorably with those she’s leaving behind. So, just because someone’s presence has grown to feel toxic in her life, doesn’t automatically mean that the toxicity is coming from the other person, it could very well be coming from her, whether she is aware of it or not.

    1. Thanks. I sort of began to think it was personal in like… March or thereabouts, having previously thought she was busy. Then had some more definite confirmation a couple of months later. Then read this blog post tonight and had a wave of emotions all over again. That said, I feel a bit better already. I think finally making a decision (and not keeping it all bottled up) helps.

  2. I have so much to say on this, but I don’t have time for a long response and I want you to wake up to this affirmation: You are worth loving. You are worth discussing issues with. You have a right to be treated with respect.

    Maybe we can forgive whoever this person is. Maybe she has really big problems and does not know how to cope with them and somehow thought that disconecting with you would help, maybe she was given bad advice about relationships, maybe she is just making a bad choice and will have to live with the kind of person that choice has made her into. But even if any of that applies it doesn’t negate my first paragraph. It’s okay to feel hurt because of this and to long for closure and to feel anxious. Just also know somewhere in your mind that you are a good friend and that there are peoplw for whom you are not only not toxic, but are a magical healing elixir (and I don’t even have an excuse for writing like that because it’s not 2:30 where I am, but I’m not ashamed to post it anyway :P).

  3. “Toxic” is one of those terms that’s bandied around these days without being properly anchored in meaning. Some people use it as a posh way of describing people who display selfish behaviours. Others use it for anything that has a negative effect on some goal they have.

    For example, I’ve read accounts by people who’ve set up their own business while travelling around the world in a mini-van who advise other people to shed any friends who want the 9-5 lifestyle because “you’ll never achieve anything real if you don’t shed those toxic friendships”.

    Maybe your acquaintance felt that having a social circle containing a significant minority of people who were experiencing certain conditions was creating the illusion that people tend to end up feeling crappy. So, they were – in somewhat abrupt and ill-defined manner – attempting to surround themselves only with relentlessly positive people in the belief it would make them positive. Which, for a short while, it might.

    As to when you stop feeling crappy? That’s hard to predict because it depends on when you start believing that their actions aren’t a judgement on your ability to add value to people’s lives. I’m not a vast fan of checking social media stats every day as if they defined a person’s worth, but maybe it would help you shed the feeling of abandonment if you consciously noted that people do interact with your messages, post, and such.

    1. Thanks. That alternative definition is comforting.

      And I’ve been so bad at blogging lately that I’ve had a strong decline in interacting with people — plus a general decline in comments over the last few months — so I guess I’ve been paranoid and didn’t have enough concrete validation to convince myself that people cared. Several of my friends have been super busy lately with graduation and new jobs and stuff so I’ve been feeling isolated on a broader scale as well. I’m sure that’s a factor in how badly I’ve been hit by this.

      1. Glad it helps.

        “Toxic” can be a bit like lactose intolerance: some people don’t get on well with milk, so they start avoiding dairy products; but that doesn’t mean milk is unpleasant for everyone.

  4. Hi Delorfind. You’ll remember me as Moonwalker. I’ve known you online in a major writer’s site for 8-10 years. I know that you were only barely out of elementary school when I met you. I know you to be kind, supportive and an amazing writer. You have real strengths to fall back on. I know that you have met people on that site that will always be in your corner, and I am one of them. If that friend had an issue and didn’t discuss it with you, then it’s her cowardice that broke up the friendship. She didn’t even give you a chance to talk it out. It’s her loss, not yours. If she treats you like that, she’s not worth having as a friend anyway. You are the one that is worth having as a friend, and I will always be yours.

  5. I followed your trip to Ireland with Charly. I just can’t imagine walking that many miles for a cup of tea!

    1. Haha, it wasn’t JUST for a cup of tea, but that was definitely a major motivation to keep going once we’d started. Well, for me at least; Charley doesn’t drink tea because she’s a heathen.

  6. Haha. I don’t drink tea much either. Strictly coffee and root beer for me. Am I a heathen too?

  7. I just realized that it’s 3:00 am where you are! It’s only about 10:00 pm here. Go to bed. get some sleep – Mama Moon’s orders :D

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