At the time, and even until yesterday, I didn’t see it as betrayal. It was an act of kindness for someone who I cared very deeply for. We haven’t spoken since.
Barely a week has gone by since when I haven’t thought about it, wondering how I could have handled the situation better. I always came back to the same conclusion, ‘what else could I have done?’ The problem was, as I now see it, I’d muddied the waters by trying to be anonymous, trying to place a hint with her family that something wasn’t right, that maybe their daughter was making choices that could affect her life detrimentally. I’d visualised an understanding on her mother’s part, that would have made her keep a closer eye, maybe ask some questions. Instead it was an outright confrontation forcing my friend to deny such accusations and for me to instantly be isolated, a scape goat, the meddling trouble maker…. I was instantly shut out from her life, and during that awful period of ‘o’ level exams, I felt alone, misunderstood and friendless as our class was divided, supporting my poor ‘victimised’ friend. No one asked why I’d got involved so I never got to explain it. Six months later we all left school and that was that.
Moving to college I made new friends and one in particular became a ‘best friend’. We did everything together and that friendship continued through various boyfriends, colleges and eventually marriage. We were so close that she married her husband on my first wedding anniversary. She then had a baby and I was in a position to give her a job. After ten years of friendship and five years of me being married, she began an affair with my then husband. Now that really was betrayal.
Amazingly, and it appears quite commonly, I forgave my husband but cast that friend from my life, her name was never mentioned and I stayed married, actually very happily, for another seven years.
Recently I became aware that she was now divorced from her long sufferering husband. I wondered if she would contact me, maybe apologise? She’d appeared at my mums yoga class one week which triggered a bit of investigation, and a lot of mixed emotions. Could I ever forgive her, would we ever be able to laugh about our past and gossip about the man we’d once shared? I then found the ultimate of a modern day wound, she was Facebook friends with my ex husband. That felt like a real betrayal. Had they stayed in touch forever or was this a recent re kindling?
Anyway, let it go, let it go.
Then, two days ago I had a shock realising that another friend could be skipping into the biggest mistake of their life. Quite probably having no idea of the consequences of their involvement with someone with an extremely dangerous past. Having lived and worked in the same area all my life, I’ve got to know a lot of people and usually it’s lovely when my contacts intertwine. I love introducing one group of friends to another and seeing new connections blossom. This one doesn’t look that way. My friend would have no idea how well I know of their new contact. The new contact may not have any idea that I know of them and the path of violence, debt and destruction they have left in their wake. The ripples of such actions reaching me.
So now what do I do? I’m a saggitarian, a truth seeker, the both feet in the mouth friend. If you want the truth I’ll give it to you. Not a vicious truth, but the ‘I really love you and can’t bear to see you get hurt ‘ truth, the ‘Yes your bum does look big in that, but aren’t you glad I told you?’ kind.
Is it any of my business? Would I be a good friend if after the storm has passed I would say ‘I knew that but didn’t want to tell you’? I believe not. I hope that any friend of mine would tell me if my husband or kids were up to no good. Being ‘the last to know’ would be my biggest nightmare. But, is it my friend’s?
I’m not resolved in this matter, but it’s relevance in this piece is that it’s finally made me see that just maybe, back in school, if I’d had the courage to speak to my fifteen year old friend, telling her, not her mum, about my concerns. We may well have fallen out, but also the storm may have passed. We may have agreed to disagree, and I would be part of her life now, and she part of mine. The air may have cleared instead of this ‘cloud of unknowing’ between us. An unspeakable truth. Maybe I’ll never know how my actions affected her and her life, maybe she hates me, maybe she thinks I hate her? Who knows.
Then there’s my college friend. I told her I never wanted to see her again, EVER. I told her that what she’d done was unforgivable, yet I know that if she were to write an apology to me, of course I’d forgive her. I miss her, more than my ex husband!
Who has to be the courageous one,her or me? Do I have to make the first move?
All three incidents are connected, by me. Is this a pattern repeating itself, some kind of sick role play where I eventually get to play all the parts, until finally I ‘get it’, and all the loose ends are tied up.
This has been difficult to write, but I felt that now was the time, I can’t be the only one with such skeletons, what would, or did you do?