I mentioned a while back that I had a friend I stopped talking to because she didn’t come to my birthday celebration. This latest hiccup with The Bunny is giving me sad memories of that girl, and by extension bringing up baggage and making me sadder over this incident than I maybe should be. Also, I feel I should qualify my “because she didn’t come to my birthday” statement because actually there’s a lot more to it than that. Gather ’round, kids: Auntie Cowgirl is gonna tell you a story.
So shortly before I left my husband, I started to become friends with this girl at work; we’ll call her Sasha. She was hilarious and wise and amazing and we clicked really well.
Sasha was in a tumultuous live-in relationship with a guy we’ll call Ali. Her plans with him kept fucking up her plans with me, much like The Bunny’s play party ended up infringing on my time with him. “Oh, sorry, can we cancel this afternoon’s thing? Ali spontaneously took me out last night and I ended up drinking too much and now I’m hungover” etc., etc.
When my birthday came around (not the fateful birthday when I finally gave up on her; not even close) Sasha and I were supposed to go out clubbing with another chick from work, Donna. We were supposed to meet at Donna’s place and go from there. But Sasha didn’t show up when she was supposed to, and an hour or so after she was supposed to be there, she called Donna’s landline (she and I didn’t have cell phones) and was like “Ali surprised me with dinner reservations so I’m gonna go do that. I’m sorry to miss your birthday, though! I’ll make it up to you.”
I said, “Could you not have told Ali, ‘Hey, that’s so sweet of you to surprise me, but actually I already have plans’?”
“Welllll, the thing is we had a huge fight recently and I think the dinner is meant as an apology. I feel like I kind of have to go.”
Okay, fine. Her boyfriend who she saw every day (and who’d been acting like a shithead, hence the fighting) was getting priority over her friend’s once-a-year celebration. I didn’t love it, but I decided to let it go and try to salvage the evening.
(It was horrible, btw. Donna was a huuuuuge pothead and alcoholic, and I think just kind of selfish and oblivious in general. I spent hours trying to convince her to fucking go out clubbing already. She spent that time having just-one-more-drink (multiple times), just-one-more-joint (multiple times) and suddenly getting the brilliant idea to call some random person I didn’t know and invite them along, except she got their voicemail so we had to give them a suitable grace period to call her back (twice). We didn’t leave the house until 2am, and by the time we got to a club – which Donna chose, and which had a fucking TWENTY FIVE DOLLAR COVER CHARGE – there was only about an hour left until closing. Woooo.)
By the time I left Ex and got my own place, Sasha was in the process of leaving Ali and needed a place to stay, so she crashed on my couch for a month or so while she looked for a new apartment. I hadn’t lived alone in over a decade and the prospect was freaking me out a lot, so having Sasha around really eased the transition – it was like bachelorhood with training wheels. Plus she paid me rent (even though I kept telling her she didn’t need to) which also helped me out during a tough time.
Anyhoo, Sasha and I bonded pretty deeply during her stay here, what with our simultaneous breakups and all. At least I thought we did. Then she got an apartment and wasn’t living with me anymore, but we still hung out a fair bit.
…And a few months later she got back together with Ali and he moved into her bachelor pad with her. And I started getting ditched in favour of him all the time. Again.
Eventually she realized getting back together had been a mistake, and kicked him out. And Sasha and I began hanging out on a more regular/stable basis again.
Except then the hangouts started trailing off. By which I mean, we’d still make plans together (many of them even initiated by her), but fully 90% of the time, she’d cancel just hours before we were supposed to see each other. There was never a concrete reason. Only that she’d “had a rough day” and didn’t feel like going out.
Her repeated cancellations bothered me for a number of reasons:
1) I missed hanging out with her.
2) At the time, I had health problems and was low-energy all the time. It took a lot of effort to rally myself for these outings – effort that was kind of draining in itself – so it frustrated me that all the effort was for nothing.
3) My health problems included frequent insomnia. On any given day, I probably hadn’t really slept and was feeling so shitty I wanted to die…but I still kept my commitments with people, because:
4) I think it’s rude to cancel on someone without a good reason. And although I can give “it’s been a long day” a pass once or twice, it doesn’t hold up for me as a “good reason” if you’re using it every damn time.
5) Most if not all of these plans involved us going for coffee after work, and we still both worked in the same office and on the same shift and the coffee shop was walking distance – so I wasn’t asking for a lot. Just an hour or two of her company in a neighbourhood she was already in anyway.
6) If you want to be friends with someone, you need to put effort in. You need to maintain the friendship by showing that you care. Sometimes this is going to mean doing shit you don’t feel super enthusiastic about. Like…helping your friend move a couch up a flight of stairs is objectively never going to be as desirable a pastime as staying home watching movies and eating potato chips, but you move the fucking couch anyway because you want your friend to be happy, amirite? And I wasn’t even asking Sasha to move a couch. I was asking her to do a thing that was supposed to be fun for her.
I know you’re reading this list of reasons and going “Well what if she had health issues and insomnia and shit, too?!?!?” Yup, that occurred to me. I asked Sasha whether she thought she might have issues with feeling low-energy, or even if she might be clinically depressed. She said it was quite possible. I encouraged her to go to a doctor or a naturopath and she was like “Yeeeeah…maybe…” but she never actually went. For two years I was talking to her about this. She didn’t take any steps at all to improve her health even though she acknowledged there was probably a problem. I empathize with how hard it is to claw your way up out of that particular pit – believe me, I do. And if she’d asked me to help her get some kind of treatment, I would have, gladly. But she just didn’t even seem to want to try, and what am I supposed to do, chloroform her and tie her to a chair in a doctor’s waiting room?
But – the plot thickens – then Sasha got herself a new boyfriend (yeah…she’d somehow found the emotional reserves to go on a million online dates, even while being “too worn out” to have coffee with me) and suddenly instead of cancelling plans with me because she was tired, she couldn’t make them in the first place because she had plans with New Guy that day. And actually there were a few times she wouldn’t go out with me because she was saving her energy for seeing him the next day – the exact opposite of the Ali situation in which she felt free to screw me over by being out late with him. Balanced and level-headed though Sasha generally appeared, I always did get a vibe that she’d fuck over her friends the moment a guy was on the scene, and I appeared to be correct.
So yeah, the last straw was when I invited her to my birthday dinner, which was at Swiss Chalet on a Saturday and involved maybe six other people. Sasha said she’d come. I even asked her again the day before just to make sure, and she was like “Of course I’m coming! Can’t wait!”
The day of the dinner arrives. Everyone is congregated at Swiss Chalet except, of course, for Sasha. I call her (by that time I had a cell phone) and it goes through to her voicemail. I leave her a “Hey…are you on your way?” message. We all sit around for half an hour chatting and waiting for her to show up. She doesn’t come, she doesn’t call. We agree to finally go ahead and order our food.
Mid-meal, I get a text from Sasha. She says she’s sorry she couldn’t make it but she wrote me an email explaining why. Oh no – did something so bad and complicated happen to her that it was too long to write out in a text message? I spend the rest of the evening worrying about her and hoping she’s okay. When I get home I anxiously open up my email, but there’s nothing. I wonder if she wrote this explanatory email to my work address (which I can’t check from anywhere but work)? For the rest of the weekend I wonder what it could possibly say. Social anxiety (and the thought that Sasha is likely busy dealing with a major personal crisis) precludes me from contacting her.
On Monday I find the email, which she had indeed written to my work address. It says “Sorry, but I’ve had a long day and I don’t think I can make it tonight. I’ll make it up to you by taking you out to dinner sometime!”
My brain snaps. I don’t tell her to fuck off per se. I simply write back “Just say when.” If she actually suggests a date and sticks to it, I’ll forgive her. If she doesn’t, I will not try to solicit her company ever again.
This ends up being the last time we ever speak, except when necessary for work.
And that’s the story of how I cut someone out of my life for not coming to my birthday party.