There are friend breakups, and then there are friend blowups. You know the kind: a falling out with a friend that turns into a spectacular flameout of epic proportions, complete with bad-mouthing and betrayal. A friendship can blow up over something as simple as a little misunderstanding, to some deep-seeded jealousy and resentment. As a result, a civilized parting of the ways quickly escalates into something so vicious and unrecognizable, it takes your breath away, not to mention a part of your soul.
Somehow, the person you thought was your B.F.F.* suddenly becomes a P.O.S.*
Been there, felt that. Ouch.
I'm sad to report that even the greatest friendships end. Even the ones you thought were rock solid and iron clad; with history and memories, unconditional love and support. A B.F.F. breakup can be worse than a boy breakup: it creates the same kind of pain, rejection and abandonment, but it leaves a bigger hole in your heart. Friend and fellow blogger Helene Cohen Bludman describes it as "her other ex."
It kills you, but you let go, mourn quietly, move on gracefully, and try to find peace and forgiveness -- with your ex-pal and with yourself.
That's what used to happen when I was younger; but something happened when I got into adulthood: friend breakups started getting ugly.
I managed to get through my school years without being bullied. Unfortunately now with digital communication and social media, people are fair game for the worst kind of post-friendship fallout. Former friends can hurl all kinds of vitriol at you while they hide behind their smart phones and computers, harming you with emails, texts, and Facebook posts.
Welcome to adult bullying, where mean girls are now grown women. Don't believe me? Do a Google search - there are over 15, 500,000 listings about women who've been shamed, intimidated, and threatened by other women.
If you haven't noticed lately, fighting with friends in the 21st century has gotten a lot nastier.
I have this theory that as women get into their late 40s and early 50s, things change: life, hormones, aging, midlife, money, relationships, whatever. As it all starts catching up with you, the next thing you know, you're bitter. And angry. Life isn't fair and you're pissed.
Yeah, been there, felt that too, but I continue to fight it and right it every step of the way because it's very easy to dump one's emotional baggage onto a friendship and screw it all up.
So what do you do when your bestie becomes a bitch and your breakup becomes F.U.B.A.R.?*
You do damage control.
Ask yourself: "What was my part in it?"
Were you insensitive, uncaring or not thinking? If you made a mistake, used bad judgment, or did something hurtful to a friend, do some soul searching. Reflecting on the error of your ways can bring much needed insight and thoughtfulness to the situation.
The fastest way to stop a friendship from derailing is saying "I'm sorry." Take responsibility for your part. Even if you think your friend is being irrational or oversensitive, don't invalidate their feelings or get defensive. Take the high road and be the bigger person. Conversely, if YOU'VE been wronged, accept their apologies, and quickly get back to the business of being friends.
If you've apologized like hell and there are still hard feelings, then it's time to walk away. Don't hold grudges, don't grovel, don't wait. Just send your ex-friend off with love and move forward with the friends you already have -- just like my wise friend Karen does:
"I don't get mad, I don't get even, I don't cross you off my list. I don't give it energy. I just make the decision to walk away, and I don't look back."
And when all else fails:
Assume the position and prepare for impact.
Still hoping for a peaceful resolution? Sorry, but you're S.O.L.* The shit is about to hit the fan, so take cover. Gossip, taking sides, whisper campaigns, and breaching of confidences are just the beginning. No, you're not in high school, but you'll sure feel like it.
Here's the good news though: there are still some of us out there who are mature adults. We're reasonable, level-headed, and we don't let a little tiff fuck up a perfectly good friendship. We talk things out, we don't fight dirty, and we get past our problems unscathed.
In other words, we know how to kiss and makeup (K.A.M.U.)
*B.F.F. -- Best Friend Forever
*P.O.S. -- A Piece Of Shit
*F.U.B.A.R. -- Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition
*S.O.L. -- Shit Out Of Luck