It has been eleven weeks since the disillusionment of our friendship. May 18th, I woke up to find some messages from you in my inbox accusing me of some very hurtful and completely untrue things. When I replied, hoping to help you understand the truth of the situation, you wanted to hear none of it. We had some scary phone calls that day, and then it was over.
Since then I’ve sent you one message (seven weeks ago), trying to get some sort of explanation about why you allowed our friendship to be what you consider a casualty of your battle with cancer (although since I never signed any treaty aligning myself with the Nation of Cancer, I’m not sure how that works). Since then we’ve had one single phone conversation on or around July 3rd, when you called asking me whether I’d spoken to a girl who had just walked out of Central Park while you were working there. That’s it, the extent of our communication, and you should know that.
Which is why I’m very perplexed about why I had to explain to someone lately that I have neither forwarded you any messages that he and I had exchanged nor called harassing or threatening you or calling you names like “cunt.” I know that you and I have shared many friends, and when a ‘breakup’ like ours occurs it can be problematic for mutual friends. People have asked me what went on between us, and all I can think about is how we spent two years as such close friends. No matter why we split, I cannot ignore those two years, cannot say they meant nothing. And so I try to honor them, and you, by telling people merely this: “She said some things that I can’t bring myself to forgive.” I leave it at that.
If I didn’t forward you those messages, how did you get them? Did you conjure up his password or was it mine? What else have you read while on our accounts, what have you deleted or changed that we’ll never know about? Either way, you surely know from checking one of our accounts that I sent him a message asking him what, besides his friendships with me and the person he used to call his best friend, has changed since he came to know you. And as I asked him that, I couldn’t help but ask myself.
I came up with five names right off the top of my head: Mandy, Tommy Thrash, Tracy, Tyler, and Tommy Hampton. These are all people that I used to talk with, laugh with in bars, consider friends before you told me things about them, things you said they’d done to you. You told me these people said unkind things to you, about you, and because of the way you told the story, and because I thought you were someone I could call my best friend, I believed you without hesitation. I judged these people based upon your evidence. Who else should go on that list that I can’t recall, or that I’m not even conscious of?
And now I am hearing “evidence” about myself that you’re giving to other people: that I call you on the phone and am unkind, or that I forward messages, and I can only think of two things. One is, WHO ELSE is she telling this to, WHAT OTHER complete fabrications is she conjuring up and spreading about me? Because I’ve caught some sideways glances from some mutual friends of ours since the split, which I had chalked up to general awkwardness, but now I’m starting to wonder what lies they’ve been fed. The second thing is, WHAT of the things you told me while we were friends ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE was also entirely made up? And that’s when the real shame and guilt sets in, and I realize that I was an unwitting accessory in your framings. That’s why I’m giving copies of this letter to the people I feel I judged wrongly. I deserve a little public humiliation for what I’ve done. They deserve apologies and I’m going to make sure they get them, from this letter as well as from me personally the next time I see them in a bar and buy them a beer. If they can bring themselves to forgive me, that will be radical. If not, I’ll just have to live with what I’ve done, but at least I’ll know I tried to make it right.
I guess the only other thing I keep wondering is how you allowed this to happen. Why, first of all, you said those unkind things to me and never cared to apologize for them or take them back. Sure, you apologized for the fact that I was hurt by what you said, but let’s not kid ourselves – that’s not a real apology. I know from what you have told me that you hate any comparison to your “crazy mother” or when people try to look at your battle with cancer, issues with your fathers, or other problems in your life as a basis for your behaviors. I’ve been there for you when you cried about this in the past. It seems that someone who is conscious of those challenges wouldn’t allow herself to be affected by them… but then you also told me other things that I’m now wondering about the truth of, and I know you’re telling at least one person things about me that are utter lies. I wonder what it must be inside your head that makes you think it is acceptable to conjure up these bizarre untruths and spread them around. I wonder if you realize they are untrue as you spread them or if you yourself actually come to believe them and live them.
I’m writing you to ask you to stop. I know the very idea is silly, that maybe you can’t and maybe you simply won’t, but I have to ask. I have to ask because I’ve tried to honor what I thought was a great two-year friendship by not saying a single negative thing about you, Becca, not to anyone. All I’ve ever said is that we had a disagreement, or that you said some things I have trouble forgiving. I leave it at that. I remember asking you to do the same, and I remember you telling me you would, but now I hear otherwise.
You know I write a poem every day in the month of April, and you know that in 2008 I wrote a poem about/for you. Well I did it again in 2009, when we were still friends. I enclose it now to remind you of what was lost. I always knew I was only as close to you as you allowed me to be, that I only knew of your life what you wanted me to know; I always felt you holding me at arm’s length. But I was all right with that. I wanted only to be your true friend, your solid supporter until the end. When you pushed me away, I tried to respect and honor that. Of course it’s too late to save what we had, Becca, and that’s not why I give you this poem, or why I give copies of this letter to the people who deserve to read it. I do it to hopefully help things in the future. I can’t know whether any of this will actually make sense inside your brain, after the many things people have told me since we’ve ‘split up,’ but I have to try. I have to do it for the future friends you might have, the future hearts you might break, the future friendships you might dissolve.
The next time you start to fabricate a hurtful lie about someone, do try and see if you can stop for just a moment, take a breather, and ask what that lie might cost. This letter can’t save our friendship, but I can use it to thank you for the important lesson you taught me at least, and I can try to apologize to the people I hurt because of you. If I can also cause you to at least consider change, well then that’s three wins, and if not, let’s just remember the important lesson we learned from Meat Loaf: “Two outta three ain’t bad.”
God forgive us both,
Ginna Funk Wallace
cc: Mandy, Tracy, Tyler, Tommy Thrash, Tommy Hampton
April 24, 2009
Poem to Make Becca Jane Smile 2
Here’s the thing of it: I don’t know how to write a poem about you
without saying Every time I tell you that I love you it’s a lie.
Man nor God never invented any word to tell you what I feel
and love feels so cheap it’s a curse in four letters. I want to say: Sister,
remember that time we got in the car and we drove all day to Kentucky
and whether we went so you could see a boy or so I could forget one
doesn’t matter anymore all that matters is stopping in Loretta Lynn’s
Country Kitchen on the way back for an impromptu photo shoot. That’s closer
to the kind of love I want to convey, I want to say At least once a day
I think about the time we turned that corner and saw the four women
praying to end abortion and I said Girl just look down and we turned into the lot
and walked inside, hand in hand. I’m getting warmer. I try: I’m glad
your brilliant academic career fell flat on its face so I can at least still see you
even if it’s only once or twice a month and we can sit in the sunshine and talk
about our lives like that’s actually what we’re talking about instead of
why on earth they say the Greek had four words for love and the Eskimos
have twenty or so and I don’t have a single one that can tell you what I mean.
Now I’m getting really warm. If I say the word Friend it’s a sorry excuse.
If I say Soul Mate it’s trite, overused, and Best Friend always fit better
on a key chain anyway. I’d tattoo you on my heart but no one would be able
to see it, it’s important to me that everyone see it so I say: No one has ever
made me feel so completely KNOWN, I say: Comrades, Cohorts, Compadres,
say: the best day of my life was that day when I called you crying on campus
because I was afraid you were good as dead already and you answered
and you cried right back and you’ll always be the strongest woman
I’ve ever known. Say I want to be you when I grow up, say you knew
all of this before I even wrote it, didn’t you? Say I love you
isn’t strong enough but I love you anyway.