I can't help but reflect sometimes, on how my life is different (read: better) this year than last year.
One surprise is how much being a public defender again has improved my friendships. I have more free time and energy, and I've made an effort to dedicate some of it to my friendships that were, unfortunately, neglected last year.
But, there is one friendship that has taken the opposite turn. I have been friends with this one girl on-and-off since elementary school. We'd lose touch for a few months or a year, maybe see each other once a year, usually for Christmas, and she'll email me a forward now and then.
I think part of the reason why we weren't close friends was because... how can I put this... I always felt worse, never better, after talking to her or spending time with her. I wrote about it on this blog once before, years ago, about one particular thing she said that made me unhappy or upset. But what I left out of that post was that it wasn't an isolated incident, that almost every interaction left me less happy than I had been when it began.
So, even before making the switch to the firm, I had decided that I didn't need to dedicate too much time to this friendship that made me feel bad. I've always felt that I don't have enough time for the friends that make me feel good, how could I waste time on a friendship that makes me feel bad?
Then, last year, while I was unhappy and depressed at the firm, I found myself drawing away from most of my friends. I wasn't happy and I didn't want to be a bummer to my friends. But, strangely, this one friend and I became closer. We spoke on the phone a lot more frequently and spent more time together.
Finally, now, I'm a public defender again, happy again. And I can't stand to talk to this friend any more. Suddenly it dawned on me: I could be friends with a downer when I was miserable. But now that I'm happy, I just can't wrap my head around it... How was I friends with her? Was I like her? Did I sound like that? I just couldn't handle it. I guess it goes to show, misery really does love company.
It's not that she's depressed, or sad, or a mopey downer. She's out-and-out hateful. It's hard for me to get into specifics without being specific, but she just has this way of saying something hateful, in a very casual way, as if she's just accidentally slipped it into a conversation. Imagine being friends with someone who continually mentions little embarassing things from junior high or arguments from your freshman year in high school. And maybe we've never moved beyond that because we don't have much in common anymore. She's been through a lot in her life, and it's become more and more obvious to me that she has some serious unresolved issues that she needs to work through, but she won't be able to do that merely by taking out her hostility on me.
And I understand that your friends are supposed to be there for you through good and bad, but I feel like I've only ever seen her through bad since maybe 1995. So I decided that, for my own mental health, I really needed to distance myself from that friendship. In the past few months I've been learning to make the decisions that are best for me, in terms of my own happiness, and that should apply not just to my professional life but also my personal life.
I didn't have a conversation with her, I didn't "break up" with her, I just decided that I wasn't going to call her, and when she called me, I'd keep it short. And there's never been any need for me to respond to her email forwards.
She didn't take it well. First she started sending me these weird passive-aggressive manipulative emails that said, "Lost: My friend. She has blonde hair. If you see her, could you please tell her that I miss her?" I'm sorry, I just don't think that kind of thing warrants a response. Honestly, I think if she had just sent a normal email like, "Hey, I've missed you lately, give me a call when you can chat," I really would've called her, I'm not heartless, I don't have it in me to be mean. But her emails were just weird. (And the weird emails never actually asked me to call her, just if I see myself, I'm supposed to tell myself that she misses me. Done.)
Then one day, a couple of weeks ago, I felt like crap and I stayed home from work sick for a day. I really just needed to take some Nyquil and sleep it off for a day. I had my phone next to my bed, just in case there was some emergency at work that I felt conscious enough to handle. She called as I was drifting off to sleep. I pushed ignore. She called again, I pushed ignore again. Every time I just started to get into a good nap, the phone rang again. I ended up putting the phone on silent. By the end of the day, she had called eight times, and she hadn't left a single message. And, again, I decided I wasn't going to call her back. If she had left a message that said, "It's me, call me back," I would've called her. Again, I'm not heartless.
But who calls someone eight times in a day? (Besides my stalker clients.) What is the point? If I wanted to talk, I would've answered. If you had something you had to say, you could've said it to my voicemail. But, what if I had been in court and accidentally left my phone on my desk (oops, I do that a lot), ringing obnoxiously all day long? What if I had been in court and my phone was vibrating all day? What if I was trying to conserve my battery power for some important reason? What if, worse, I was deathly sick and really needed some sleep? Oh wait, that is what happened. The worse she behaves, the more I feel like I absolutely should not reward her bad behavior with the response she wants.
Since that day, she's called a few times randomly, I've ignored it. Then she emailed a few of my friends. Not HER friends, mind you, not OUR mutual friends, but my friends. I guess she had their email addresses from things like when I sent a mass email for my birthday party or something. She wrote, "Can you check to make sure nothing terrible happened to Blonde Justice?" We've now entered actual stalker territory.
Finally, today I received a card from her. I'm thinking about putting it straight in the shredder without even opening it.
And I know it makes me sound like a bitch. You're thinking, "Hey, if the girl is dying to be your friend so bad, why can't you just give her a few minutes of attention?" And, yeah, I see that. But the further she goes, the less I feel like I could ever be friends with her. And can it be a real friendship if I'm only doing it to get a stalker off my back? And then how long do I have to put up with it before we're back here again?
So, give it to me. What do you think? Am I bitch? What would you do?