More thoughts on the follow up

{So… this ended up being a doozy…in both length and content. Before I start, I want to clarify a couple things about the situation referenced in the follow up post (which is discussed again in this post: 1) My friend was not mad at me for writing that post. Well, I don’t actually know how she felt about it beyond our mutual friend telling me she was sad and hurt, but I believe that was more about my committing to disengaging from the friendship than for writing about her/our friendship. I think I might have been more hurt to learn she read that post than she was to read it, but as I said, she never mentioned my blog or her thoughts on the post, so I have no real idea. 2) The reason I asked my friends to stop reading my blog was because it was actually having the opposite of the intended affect. Instead of helping them understand me better, it seemed to make them more confused. They thought I was too negative and didn’t understand why I was putting so much of myself out into the world in that way. Instead of bring us closer, it drove us apart. That is why I asked them to stop reading it. It’s not like I was writing things I specifically didn’t want them to read, or that I was writing about them. I just felt that their reading my blog was hurting our friendship instead of helping it, and asked them not to read because of that. 3) If our relationship had not disintegrated, and my friend mentioned she still read my blog sometimes, I would be surprised but not incredibly upset. It would seem weird to me, but if she brought it up casually, and mentioned she read it now and again, I wouldn’t be incensed.}

So, without further ado, let’s officially begin this 2000 word bad boy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anon’s comment on my follow up post. It definitely got me thinking. I’m still thinking, in fact. And as I tend to do, I’m going to write as I think. First there is this:

However, a couple things to consider, as you reflect on all of this, I don’t agree with your rules regarding friendship and reading your blog. Your language suggests a deep violation of intimacy, as though she entered your home and read your diary when your back was turned. She did not do this; you posted something about your friendship with her publicly. You put your thoughts and feelings into the world. These words are no longer just yours, and you cannot control their dissemination (or rather, you chose not control its dissemination) or anyone’s reaction to it. Your posts are usually much more self reflective than this, so I am surprised. You publicly wrote about your friendship with her, presumably without her knowledge or permission. It’s difficult for me to see her reading your blog in the light you are painting it.

It’s absolutely true that once I publish something on my blog, I choose not to control its dissemination. I agree with that 100%. And by sharing my blog with my friends at one point, I relinquished an expectation that it would ever really be private from them. If its purpose was to express myself outside of that friendship, they would never have known about it in the first place. And it’s not like my friend went out looking for it without my knowledge, which would be a very different thing indeed. (See #3 above.)

So why did I feel so betrayed that my friend was reading my blog? I guess because she didn’t tell me. That seems like a betrayal to me. I suppose it could be argued that once words are published publicly, one cannot expect to control who reads them and to what end. At the same time, it feels disingenuous, if you are truly friends with someone, to read their words, especially when you know that they expect you to not read their words (because in the past the reading of those words caused misunderstanding and hurt in the friendship), and never mention it. That does feel like a betrayal to me.

I’m trying hard to figure out exactly why though. I guess it’s the secrecy. And the intention. It seems that if you are unwilling to share that you are reading the blog, you aren’t reading it in the service of that friendship. If you are reading your friend’s blog, but not telling him or her, your motives cannot be to help. Actually, that’s not true. I can see a friend reading another friend’s blog without telling him or her, to better understand and support that friend. But if reading the blog DOES NOT lead to an enhanced ability to support, but instead coincides with a distancing of that friendship, then I don’t think that secretly reading a friend’s blog aligns with the actions of true friend. In that case if feels like a betrayal of trust. Especially if that friend was once very close, and that friendship involved a high level of trust (the case in this situation).

Perhaps that is my hurt twisting my perception of the situation. I don’t know. I’m trying to imagine a similar scenario in which I am not involved, to see how I would judge the actions of both people, and it still feels like a betrayal to me for one friend to read another’s blog and not mention it. But maybe I can’t properly distance myself from the situation to look at a parallel scenario impartially.

I’m curious what other people think.

I do know that PART of why I was so hurt by my friend reading my blog without telling me is knowing she was doing that, while also not sharing things with me that she shared with our mutual friends, that she was privy to my life without sharing anything about her own. Anon has some interesting thoughts on that as well.

Maybe your definition and understanding of friendship and group situations is different than hers. Friendships are also fluid and sometimes I feel more comfortable talking to one person about a topic than another. I don’t think I owe telling anyone a confidence because I have shared it with a mutual friend. It’s not something I would apologize for. In fact, I’d be ticked off if someone expected me to actually say sorry about that (“A classic sorry, not sorry about the whole not telling me things that she told our friends.”).

This definitely got me thinking.

The truth is, I did come to some form of acceptance about my friend not sharing with me what she shared with our mutual friends. I worked really, really hard to get there. I had to work really hard because the truth is it hurt to see that my friendship with this woman had changed in a way that it hadn’t with our mutual friends. But I could, in my hurt, upset way, accept it. I recognized that she was creating the boundaries she needed, even if I couldn’t understand why she needed to set them. I tried hard to set my own boundaries, and I will admit that involved distancing my friend, as a form of self-protection.

And we remained friends for another couple of years. But when it happened again, and as I realized there was more and more that hadn’t been shared with me, I realized that the whole situation made me feel like shit. As I stated in my original post, I resorted to dredging up old hurts between us to explain why I was no longer a person of confidence for her, and reliving those past mistakes made me feel bad about myself. Also, knowing that I was the only one of the three of us who wasn’t being told things made it hard for me to interact with the group as a whole, and eventually I just couldn’t stomach the constant reminders that I was now different.

As anon, asked, can’t it be that you grew too far apart, but neither of you grew apart from the mutual friends? Yes. I suppose, if someone asked me that without context I would say yes, that is okay. But I guess in this specific scenario, it didn’t feel okay. And I suppose some women would be okay participating in a group friendship knowing the other women had a closer, more intimate bond. To be fair, I think I’d be okay joining a group and being the more distant member. I guess what I couldn’t handle was knowing that we had all once been equally close, and now I was the only one who was not.

I first wrote that sentence with, I was the only one who had been deemed unworthy, which shows that I’m not yet far enough away from the hurt of this situation to really see it as just, “we grew apart.” I clearly believe that my friend’s refusal to share with me is a rejection. I obviously believe that she chose not to share things with me because of WHO I AM and WHAT I’VE DONE.

Is there any rejection that hurts so much, as the rejection by a person who once cared for you? A person who truly knows you, and still pushes you away? That is a really, really hard thing.

And I think THAT is why the blog reading feels like a betrayal, because what if she stopped confiding in me BECAUSE of what I wrote on my blog? What if she judged me for my inner-most thoughts and feelings, which were shared here in an uncensored way (or at least a way I would not have shared with her), and found me lacking?

It’s not the first time people have pushed me away because of what I’ve written on this blog. Once it even happened with a friend I had MET through blogging. The thing that had originally brought us together — my writing — ultimately ended up pushing us apart. And it wasn’t that my thoughts, and therefore my writing, took some dark turn. It just that eventually I became too much for her.

And I guess that is ultimately what hurts so much about this situation. It feels like yet another piece of irrefutable evidence that I am TOO MUCH. That I feel too much, and express too much, that I am simply too much, and eventually everyone has to leave me, because they all determine one day, that they just can’t anymore.

Well, I guess I ended up where I needed to go with this. I guess I got my revelation.

This hurts so much because it is yet another situation in which people who know me in real life, and read my blog, push me away. Another example of people who know me, and read my words, and decide, based on my writing, that they can’t be close to me.

I suppose if that is what’s at the bottom of all this, I can’t possibly see the situation for what it really is. Unfortunately my friend is not the type who will be able to give me a clear, honest explanation for her own actions, so I guess I’ll end up never knowing what really drove her away. This will be yet another friendship that ended for reasons I can only invent for myself. And those inventions will almost certainly support what I already believe about myself, which will in turn shape my understanding of all future friendships.

In which I will always, and forever be found lacking. Lacking, and yet too much.

19 Comments

  1. There are so many difficult issues here. I’d be devastated by her distancing only me, and not the two others. But this DOES NOT mean there’s anything wrong with you (or her). It’s just that under this set of circumstances, after what you have gone through, the RELATIONSHIP between you two does not work out. I’m just starting to learn this (at the ripe age of 39). I would just like to please everyone, and everyone to like me (even: like me best), and it’s so difficult to accept that this is not how it goes.

    But, I think that friendships that start in childhood/adolescence may not generally be the best of friendships. They are often based on randomness, such as who happens to live next door, or go to school/college with you. I’m incredibly lucky that I have 2 close childhood friends that I still really bond with, but I attribute this to sheer luck. We’d be friends even if we met now as adults. On the other hand, one of my close friends feels very distanced from her childhood friends because they have very different attitudes, values, and lifestyles. They had a great time together as teens and young adults, but now she’s uncomfortable with them. My point is that most people can probably find their best relationships as adults, when they know themselves better and know more about relationships. Or, my point is that while shared history is a nice feature in a friendship, it’s not valuable in its own sake if the relationship is not positive.

    About the blog…I agree that you cannot control whether others read your words and they may interpret them as they will. However, I’d be offended/hurt too because of the non-reciprocity of sharing. If she did not want to share her stuff with you anymore, she should not have read intimate stuff about your life. Of course she had every right to read, but I honestly don’t think it was very nice. There should be reciprocity in sharing in relationships. Otherwise the other party is much more vulnerable and the relationship is not in balance.

    1. Friendships definitely do change. I have very few from childhood/adolescence that still serve me. This was a college friendship, and it always had its ups and downs. I would be lying to myself if I repainted it as all-good-all-the-time. And I know this isn’t all about me. I KNOW this. It’s still hard. I think I’m just really sensitive to this idea that when people know me AND read my blog, they need to pull away. People seem willing to stick around if they JUST know me, or JUST read my blog, but if they do both, I’m too much. And that is especially troubling because I’ve tried really hard to portray my life in a more positive way. To not come here just to vent, but to also express the good.

      I think this goes to a deeper fear, as someone who has battled clinical depression and anxiety her whole life, that what actually happens in my head is inherently not okay. And that I have to be very careful choosing what I present the world and how I present it.

      1. It is really hard. I haven’t had clinical depression but I’ve had similar fears all my life. I tend to strongly control how I present myself and ruminate over the impression I’ve given etc.
        A couple of years ago I had kind of a revelation that has helped me a lot, which was that I realized that my feelings and emotions are often wrong. Not wrong as such but wrong in the sense of “being informative about the world”. I realized that 99% of my social angst comes from past traumas, not from the situation that happened just now. Now I sort of capsulate my social angst, look at it from the outside, and wait for it to pass. It sounds very simple but this has been really eye-opening for me.

  2. Agreeing with Sofia. There’s a lot of wisdom in her words.

    I think it’s worth pointing out that people often point to one, solitary thing that ends relationships when in reality things have been building. I disagree about your former friend forming the sub-group. I understand where Anon is going with this (friendships being fluid and confiding in different people), but there’s also exclusion and meanness people often engage in. Excluding one person who was previously part of a group qualifies and shows a real lack of maturity on this person’s part. It’s also firmly rooted in dishonesty, showing a lot about your former friend’s character.

    And I think that’s the root of this divorce: a lack of honesty. Whenever walls and weird boundaries are put up and communication ceases to flow, it’s bound to be the end. So I will ask: did you create those boundaries? Did you initiate withholding information and confidence? If the answer is no, then I stand by my original statement that you’re not the guilty party.

    Finally, you confessed a deep fear about being too much for people. It’s clear that this has been on your mind. I guess I will again counter with the fact that not every person in this world gets along and agree again with Sofia about friendships. There are people I’m still friendly with from my younger years, but often those I’m close with change over time. Sometimes things just don’t work out too. You could argue it’s due to you being you, but just like we all have different tastes and preferences in things and experiences, so too do we have different preferences in people. In short, be yourself. People will love or hate you for it, but at the end of the day you have to be comfortable in your own skin.

    1. Oh, it’s definitely not one thing that ended our friendship. As I said, her pulling away from me made me revisit past hurts that we had perpetrated against each other. I definitely made my share of mistakes, and it sucked to have to revisit them in my attempts to explain my friends behavior. So yeah, I definitely contributed.

      Actually, I was making a bit attempt to rekindle our friendship years ago when she first started withholding important information from me. I left a long weekend feeling like we were on the right track, only to find out months later that she had spent the whole time willfully keeping secret a HUGE thing. It really hurt. And I never really recovered.

      I totally get what you mean, that not everyone is right for everyone else. I’ve met plenty of people that I think are plenty nice, and good people, that I’m not really interested in being friends with, for whatever reason (usually I can’t quite articulate it). Having said that, I do think it’s different when someone who has been close to you eventually decides they don’t want to be your friend anymore. Whatever it is that is needed between two people to make them friends was there, but AFTER knowing me for a while, it was decided I wasn’t a desirable friend. That feels different to me, but maybe I’m just being sensitive.

  3. I can understand why you would feel betrayed about your friend reading your blog somewhat secretly. Last year, I realized someone I followed on twitter was an acquaintance (their twitter was under a pseudonym). and I felt really strange about it until I told them I figured out their twitter pseudonym. Not that their twitter was private or anything. just that it felt strange.

    1. I appreciate hearing that I am not alone in my feelings on this. Social media really does complicate the rules of etiquette in ways we haven’t fully figured out yet, for sure. It’s tricky stuff.

  4. As a non-– blogger who reads blogs, I have to (gently) say I agree with anon. If you put something publicly out there – – unless you require a password for your blog, it’s public – – then I don’t see how you can be surprised that people read it including people you know. The only scenario I could see being upset about is if you did have a password requirement and your friends somehow tricked you by posing as somebody else. I’m always amazed when I read blogs when I read entries about people being upset that they been found by people they didn’t want reading it. Having read a lot of blogs over the years I find it surprising how easy it is to figure out people are sometimes – – they give so many details, sometimes even their children’s names.

    That said I don’t have any friendship advice. I’m sorry that things ended that way for you.

    1. I guess I’m not mad that she read my blog. I’m mad that she did so without telling me, and WHILE she was making very deliberate decisions to distance herself from me. I’m curious, do you think it’s okay for friends — not all people, or even acquaintances, but FRIENDS, to read another friend’s blog without telling them? Do you think they can do that without betraying trust?

      1. I have to say (gently like above) you are being a bit naive. You must assume anyone can read it, and yes even if you tell someone NOT to read it. How tempting!

        I will say that if someone….a friend, family, spouse said not to read their very public blog, I would want to go and read it right away. I think with the internet and such there is so little “private life” anymore. I guess I will add too that if I were that friend who went and read it knowing that it wasn’t appreciated…..I hope I would mention that “hey I took a look at your blog” but I still don’t think I would have to.

        anything on the internet is fair game. You cannot expect to control who reads your blog when it’s set up this way.

        and I also agree with the previous commenter. I remember reading a blog by a doctor and she wrote so much personal material and was upset and humiliated when her coworkers found it (and then went and set up another public blog…weird)

        And (sorry) this friendship seems to have had some issues all along and Im guessing this person found some conscious and unconscious glee in “secretly” reading it.

        just my humble opinion
        anon in mass

        1. Fair enough. I can accept that the rules have effectively changed since the advent of social media.
          It’s not like her reading my blog ended the friendship. The post she read was about how I was deciding to distance myself from her, I just wasn’t yet sure how it was going to happened. I hoped to do so stealthily, without burning bridges. Her reading the post just accelerated the inevitable.

      2. Well, yes, I think if something is public it’s not a betrayal. If literally anyone can read it why does the friend have an obligation to report what they are reading? I’m not trying to be an asshole here, but it seems very strange to me that someone would put something out there for everyone to read and then get mad because someone read it. Hence my not writing a blog.

      3. I think I would find it unlikely to have a friend read my blog for a long time and never have any of the issues I write about come up in or conversations. So it would be weird if I was talking about something and they failed to mention they had already read about my internal thoughts on the matter. That’s why I think it feels funny that it’s odd your friend read here without telling you.

  5. I think it was dishonest to read your blog and not tell you, especially since she seems to have been a consistent and longtime reader. I don’t know how you can have an authentic and honest friendship with someone when you are reading their private thoughts behind their back. That said, I understand her urge to read.

    And yes, not everyone can be friends with everyone. I have a dear friend who is disliked by half my friends. They think she is self-righteous and too intense. I think she is passionate and caring and amazing. I know a lot of other people who we went to college with also dislike her but her close friends adore her. I guess my point is that I think there are some people that are harder to take but still have amazing close relationships with those that stick around.

    It sucks feeling like you’ve been edged out of the group. She strikes me as someone who really can’t handle big feelings and so hides from them.

    1. “I don’t know how you can have an authentic and honest friendship with someone when you are reading their private thoughts behind their back.” <-- Yes. This. "That said, I understand her urge to read." <-- Also, yes. This. I remember being really surprised, at the time, that my other friend could stop reading of her own accord, because she recognized reading was hurting our friendship. I remember thinking that that required a level of self-control I wasn't sure I had. Having said that, you all read my blog. It's not THAT interesting. 😉 And again, I would be fine with my friends reading it -- I originally gave them the url and wanted them to read! -- except that they were so judgmental of everything I did on my blog, they were judgmental of the very act of me writing it! I don't know. Like I said in my post, it's not like I'm mad she read it, only that she read it while actively withholding her life from me (while sharing it with our other friends). That is an important point for me.

      1. I didn’t start reading your blog until you were trying to get pregnant with your son but I did glance at the beginning a few times and my memory was that you got pregnant with your daughter a month or so after starting the blog. I’m surprised people thought the infertility sadness was too much — it was a pretty short period of time. Maybe it was because they were in their 20s and childless and just didn’t want to deal with ANYTHING sad? Maybe I have a tolerance for people’s sadness – a good friend of mine was depressed in college and she said I was the only friend who didn’t run away from her depression so maybe people can’t handle as much as I (or you) expect them to be able to.

        1. I was really anxious during that pregnancy (my mom experienced a lot of late-pregnancy loss and I was really worried something would go wrong. I also wrote about my ectopic a lot. So maybe it was that? I don’t know.

          1. Yeah. I guess that if you’ve never experienced a miscarriage or haven’t known anyone who has, it’s so hard to understand these things. My mom had a bunch of miscarriages and my sister had one so I was a total wreck during my first trimester (and into my second) after a year of trying to conceive. But I guess some people just don’t get it especially when they are under 30 and motherhood feels so far off.

  6. I’m so far behind reading your blog, but I want to offer you some support in this realm. I had not one friendship implode, but an entire group of friends fall apart in part because of infertility. It was difficult for years to come to terms with the fact that one friend treated me badly (completely ignoring me like I didn’t exist but talking to DH). We ended up dropping the entire group which was hard because that was our core group of friends for a long time. Whenever friendships end like that it’s devastating, and I hope you’re able to come to terms with it. It’s really hard to move past feeling betrayed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *