“Something Borrowed” – A Lesson In Toxic Friendships

I really wanted to see “Something Borrowed” in the theatre when it was released last May, but since I’m a mom and going to the movies is considered a luxury, it didn’t happen.  I was so excited to see it premier on HBO last weekend, especially since it’s within a year of its debut in theatres.  This is because movies coming up in my Netflix queue are from 2008.  I used to love watching movies, and still do.  The difference is, my daughter was born in 2007, and since then, I don’t have the time to sit through a two-hour movie.

If I do, chances are I fall asleep or the plot is so bad, I think of a million other things I’d rather do.  So, I got to watching “Something Borrowed,” and I didn’t fall asleep.  Even better, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish watching it.  Why was I so into this movie?  Well, the theme of it is very appropriate for what’s happening in my life right now.  Not that I’m stealing someone’s fiancé, or that I just lost my fiancé to my best friend, but as with Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson), I share the dissolution of a long, “toxic” friendship.  I’m Rachel, in case you’re wondering; the classic people pleaser.

Something Borrowed A Lesson in Toxic Friendships
www.imdb.com

When looking for the definition of a toxic friend, I came across this article on WebMD.com:

http://women.webmd.com/features/toxic-friends-less-friend-more-foe

When I started reading the article, I thought “Holy crap!  Elizabeth Roberts and I are the same person.”  Almost everything in this article mimics my situation, right down to the 23 year friendship.  Turns out, lots of women are in toxic friendships and don’t know what to do about it.

In my case, my toxic friend and her toxic husband liked to make subtle or not so subtle comments (mainly put downs and judgments) to my face, or my husband’s face.  Comments could be about anything including our home, my clothes, our daughter and my husband’s income (or lack thereof according to toxic friend).  For years we lived in different states, so when seeing toxic couple once or twice a year, it was easy to brush off the comments or forgive them.

But three years ago, we moved to the same city and in that time the comments became more frequent and were filled with more venom.  Most of the time, comments were made in the vein of “all in good fun,” or alcohol was flowing and excuses could easily be made.  I recently saw a quote, “Drunk words are sober thoughts.”  This is so true.

Like Elizabeth Roberts, I would discuss these comments with friends or family and always got the same response: “What?!  Who says that?!”  I too would defend toxic friend and kept coming back due to the length of the relationship.  Let me tell you, the length of a relationship is no reason to keep being friends with someone.  I didn’t want to disrupt the friendship, even if it was toxic.  For this, I take full responsibility.

Things finally came to a head right before Christmas of last year.  A comment was made to someone at a gathering; the someone, a person I had only met twice, relayed the comment to me and asked, “You let your friends talk about you like that?”  It was in that moment I knew something had to change.  When I returned to the main group, toxic friend and toxic husband had decided it was time for them to go and were walking out the door (a coincidence according to toxic friend).

I decided not to react immediately and to go home and discuss the situation with my husband.  After thinking it through, we decided it would be best to send them an e-mail calling them out on their comments that night and detailing our feelings over the past few years.  I knew once the e-mail was sent, Pandora’s box would be opened and there was no going back.

Toxic couple immediately called and left a message to say no such comment was made.  Apparently, the near stranger to me, was a liar.   They wanted to know who told me this, and they wanted to talk and work things out.  When I was ready to have “the conversation” with toxic friend, I called her back the next night.  Of course there were excuses for everything, but ultimately it was my fault because I hadn’t brought this to their attention sooner.  The conversation lasted about 15 minutes with no resolution.

My question to toxic friend: “How can there be resolution if there’s no recognition of a problem on your end?”  Her response, “I don’t know.”  I was still willing to work with her as long as she was honest with me, and herself, about what happened and why it happened.  Again, making excuses for toxic friend.  The key to the problem is the “why,” and I quickly realized I was never going to get the key that would permeate the bubble toxic couple had created for themselves.

Today, I feel sorry for them.  They have no clue who they are as people and they aren’t willing to do a single bit of soul-searching to figure it out.  Even at the cost of a 23 year friendship.  I had to cut the friend off.  The tricky part is that we live in the same neighborhood, have mutual friends and will continue to run into each other.  So be it.  I won’t let her treat me that way anymore.

So, back to “Something Borrowed.”  In the end, their friendship didn’t work out either.  What I’ve learned and what my advice is to others in the same situation is that we teach people how to treat us.  I taught toxic friend long ago that her comments were acceptable, and she kept them coming.

I often think of a trip we took together when we were both 18-years-old.  I remember several things from that trip, but one thing that has always stood out in my mind was a comment she made to me.  I asked her to take my picture in front of a sign for the Straw Market, and she later asked me to take her picture in front of a Gucci storefront.  Her comment, “Straw Market for [you], Gucci for [me].”  No toxic friend, a life built on honesty for me, a life built on insecurity and lies for you.

Something Borrowed A Lesson in Toxic Friendships

 

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Comments

  1. Love this! I’ve been there too. It’s so true that just because you’ve had a lengthy friendship, doesn’t mean you have to stay friends. Great post!

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