Even if the relationship hasn’t been perfect, it’s hard to say goodbye to a 20-year friendship.
I have spent countless hours trying to understand what happened to my friendship. I’m 63 and Donna is 67. We met at work and shared the same office for about ten years. Donna talks about herself and her problems constantly. Whenever anyone would come into the office, she would monopolize the conversation. Over the years she has told me every personal detail about her kids’ drug problems, her kids’ marriage problems, that her son that wanted to give up his parental rights to his ex-wife, about her mother’s problems, and about her husband’s medical problems (he’s been quite ill for the past year). I could write a book.
Before I retired more than ten years ago, my husband and I purchased a 100-acre parcel bordering her and her husband’s property. We built a house, business and barns. Donna and her husband are equestrians but only have 2 acres for their horses. After listening to her talk about her horses, riding, and horse camping for many years, I purchased a horse. For the past 12 years, Donna, her husband, and I have been trail riding on our property together at least twice a week. Donna and I also belong to ladies’ riding group and ride together at least 4-5 hours every Tuesday.
In June, James and Donna went to visit their son in Lexington. When they returned, they talked about how their son and daughter-in-law couldn’t wait for them to leave after the visit. I said, “It would be better if you lived closer and you wouldn’t have such long visits.” They insisted they weren’t ready. During the summer, we continued to ride and they never talked about moving. She did drop comments like “I won’t be planting my greenhouse next year” and “James won’t be getting wood” and “We won’t be able to keep the horses.” I assumed James was very ill or maybe she was. Although I was worried about them, I didn’t want to ask.
Just before they went back for another trip, Donna called and said they had been looking for property, had found a lot on the internet, and would be moving so James could be near their son. I said, “I understand, but I will sure miss you.” They left to purchase the property and I went on a weeklong camping trip with several of the gals that ride together.
Our rides with Donna and her husband generally lasted about two hours with her talking all the time. James and I can’t get a word in edgewise. The rides are always at 1:00 or 1:30PM. If I say I would like to go at 2:30, she says, “No, we need to go earlier.” It’s her way or the highway.
When she called to ride after they returned, she started talking about the nice property they bought, a neighbor she couldn’t wait to meet, etc. She went on to say how it was up to her to make sure that all the paperwork was in order. She said they were waiting for a call from the title company and would be going back to Lexington to sign papers. She said, “I caught a huge error when we purchased the lot in June and it fell through.”
Then I realized she had purchased property in June and hadn’t told me until now. I asked why. She said in a very controlling rude voice, “That is my personal business I thought you would be upset”. I literally gasped. I said, “I’ll see you on the ride” and hung up but didn’t go that day and I haven’t been on a ride with them since then. I was almost hysterical. My husband said to forget it, but he is a man and doesn’t understand.
She hasn’t called and I haven’t either. I see her every Tuesday to ride with the girls. The first time I saw her after the phone call, she came over to my trailer to give me an apple for my horse. I could tell by her face she was embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. I thanked her and that was it. I didn’t talk to her on the ride. I just can’t get past her hiding the fact all summer that they were moving.
The worst part of this is I do miss her. Twenty years of friendship is a long time. Also, it is very uncomfortable on Tuesdays with the other gals. They know we aren’t talking to each other. I am not friendless. For the past 8 years, I’ve been riding and camping with another couple and another lady. We go on week camp trips as a foursome. I have other close friends: my bridge partner, my walking partner, etc.)
I expect an apology for her rudeness, but that hasn’t been forthcoming and I don’t think it will be. I feel betrayed. What is your evaluation of this entire scenario of the end of a friendship?
You sound pretty ambivalent about your friendship. You enjoyed working, riding, and being with Donna enough to sustain a twenty-year friendship but you also are saying now that you could barely tolerate her incessant chatter, rigidity, self-centeredness, and controlling nature.
It is definitely strange that Donna felt comfortable to share so many intimate details of her family’s life with you but decided that telling you about her impending decision to move was too “personal.” I’m also confused why you never asked your friend to explain the comments she made during the summer suggesting that there were going to be major changes taking place in her life. How could you just ignore her comments?
I think you are both having a very difficult time ending a long-term friendship that you both enjoyed. My guess is that Donna is upset about her husband’s illness and their need to move, about all the changes that are taking place in her life, about her inability to control everything going on around her, and about moving away from you.
I think you are feeling a tremendous sense of loss as well that feels like a betrayal. To justify your feelings, you are remembering more negative than positive things about her. You would not have kept the friendship going for so long if it wasn’t worth its weight in gold. You have other friends but this was a special friendship that was life changing in terms of all you shared together and because it introduced you to the equestrian world that you now enjoy so much.
Don’t stand on ceremony waiting for an apology. Allow your friend to have made a mistake in not being explicit. She’s leaving and your relationship will be changing as a result. Instead of ending it on an ill note, tell her that you really will miss her and that you hope you can still stay in touch. Not only will this type of reconciliation allow you to feel more comfortable with your friends who are remaining, it will allow you to feel more comfortable about yourself.
I hope this is helpful.