It’s been a long, miserable week. Depression, little sleep, little appetite, and nausea. But by Friday the emotional jags began to diminish in number and length, enough that I could move beyond sadness and shock and begin to think more constructively. Plus it helped that I talked to Cameron and Katherine and some friends about what I was going through. They all sympathized in their limited way and their advice was essentially unanimous: give it time, if she’s a true friend she’ll forgive you or give you a chance to reconcile. That made sense to my thoughts. Really, what else could I do but wait and hope? This was beyond my control. But in my gut, I couldn’t help but think that the longer I patiently suffered in silence, the more it would look like I was slinking away in guilt and shame. The longer the silence drew out, the more her heart and ears would close to me, if they haven’t completely done so already.
I resolved to contact her one final time today, Saturday. Last Sunday was when I sent her my explanation of things. I hadn’t heard from or seen her at all since then. This morning I texted her:
I don’t fully understand what has happened between us. I have so many things to say and questions to ask, but after a week of silence I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance. But I have to know; Did you ever read my last message?
Brief and to the point. All I wanted to know was if she had received my explanation. If she had and still didn’t believe me, then there was nothing more to be said. If she hadn’t received it, then maybe there was some hope. If she told me “yes,” “no,” or “go to hell,” it would be a conclusive answer one way or another. It would end this agonizing limbo.
Six hours later, she hasn’t responded. I thought that this direct question would have warranted some response, if only to get rid of me permanently. Then it occurred to me that maybe she blocked my number when she discovered the camera-clock. If that were so, then she never would have received my explanation. There might still be a chance that I could redeem myself. I know it’s a thin hope, but at this point I’ve decided that I have to do everything I can to salvage this friendship or else I’ll always wonder what more I could’ve done.
The only avenue of communication that I have left and that I 100% trust will reach her is our work email. That can’t be blocked. I know it’s not the wisest way to communicate personal matters, but this isn’t the time for half-measures. So I sent this brief email with the same Explanation from Sunday attached.
I’m sorry I had to resort to using this channel to talk to you. I couldn’t tell if you were ignoring me or if you had blocked my number, in which case I’ve been speaking to thin air. Your friendship is so important to me that I can’t risk that chance.
I beg you to read the attachments.
I know this email will reach you. From now on I’ll know that your silence is intentional and not accidental. I won’t bother you again.
Besides the Explanation, I attached a Goodbye message, in the event that she couldn’t bring herself to believe or trust me. In it, I’m not trying to defend myself or persuade her or beg for forgiveness. It is my goodbye to her.
This letter isn’t meant to convince you of my innocence. I thought our friendship would have granted me a chance to explain myself, but your silence has told me you’ve already decided. At this point you probably never want to hear from or see me again, but if this is the end of our friendship then I literally have nothing left to lose. I need to say this in order to let you go. This letter is to say thank you and goodbye.
From the first night we met as people, you gave me your trust. I never knew someone who was so free of insecurity and confident without being arrogant. For the duration of our friendship, I marveled at how freely you gave your trust and honesty and heart to other people. I couldn’t help but wonder, “How has the world not taken advantage of her trust, of her generosity? Why isn’t she more protective of herself?” I tried looking for your cracks. I couldn’t believe you were that strong and whole after all you’ve been through, but I couldn’t find them. It made me want to emulate you. To stop being sarcastic and evasive and defensive, old protective habits that I’ve always had. I admire you, not only as a friend or colleague, but as a person.
That’s your gift. That’s why you’re so successful with your students and the world at large. Hell, that’s why you were willing to befriend an asshole like me. You give of yourself without hesitation or thoughts of gaining advantage or protecting yourself.
Even though it was just for a few months, your friendship became one of the most important things to me. I can’t remember forming a friendship as quickly or as strongly as I did with you. You are someone I never had to be different around, or had to second-guess myself with. You quickly dropped all pretenses between us and showed me who you really are and I was deeply touched by your openness and I tried to match it.
But I couldn’t adapt quickly enough. I know I was unnecessarily rude to you at times. Only recently did I realize my rudeness stemmed from my jealousy of your ability with people and how you flowed amongst them, winning jewelry from strangers or phone numbers or friends as easy as breathing. I couldn’t match your talent and I wrongly blamed you when I felt left behind. I should never have faulted you for having those qualities that allowed us to even be friends in the first place. But I was insecure and lonely.
It wasn’t just the new lifestyles or the new people you exposed me to; your very behavior gave me a glimpse that it was possible to approach and see life differently, with less anxiety and more trust and faith. I wasn’t trying to flatter you when I said I had never met anyone like you. You led me to reconsider who I could be as a person.
Throughout it all I couldn’t help but feel that I was a poor companion. I don’t dance, I barely smoke, I’m not that funny, and I’m often downright dull. That’s why I leapt at any chance to help you. When you were bored, when you were hungry, when you were cold, when you were grieving, when you were injured, when you were wasted, when you were stranded, when you were lonely. I may not have been the best company, but I wanted to repay you in any way I could for the gift of your friendship.
That is why my biggest regret and shame is that in the end, I repaid your friendship with an apparent betrayal of trust and the pain that goes with it. I couldn’t convince you that this was all an accident and frankly . . . it doesn’t matter anymore. The pain that I’ve caused you is reason enough for you to excise me from your life. I can’t forgive myself for that and I can’t expect you to forgive me either.
I’m sorry that George and possibly Anna ended up involved in this. They should not have to help pay for my recklessness, but I am truly grateful that you have them close by to help you through this. I would thank them if I could.
I take some small comfort in knowing that you’ll soon be able to replace me and forget me entirely. I won’t be able to replace you. It took me 37 years to meet someone like you. I don’t think it will happen again.
Brittney, I’ll never forgive myself for losing you as a friend. More than that, I hate myself for being the one that makes you trust the world a little less, of dimming the light that you bring to everyone. I wish there was something, anything, I could do to save our friendship, but all I can do for you now is spare you any further discomfort. I promise that I will not contact you again or approach you socially or professionally.
You deserve a better friend than me.
Thank you, and goodbye.
I’ve put it all out there. My explanation, how I feel, and how important she is to me. I’m afraid that baring my heart to her still won’t be enough. But it’s all I could do.
Somehow, sending her this message has eased my burden a bit. I’m still terribly depressed, but now that I’ve done everything I can and held nothing back I feel a bit of calmness and courage to face whatever comes next.