Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How I Lost One of My Best Friends and Got In Touch With My Jerky Side

Pin It One of my best friends is (was?) a gal named Terri.

We met when we were about nineteen and hung out together for the next few years - sharing an apartment, a circle of friends, and a crush on the same guy. As we got older we drifted into different social circles and circumstances and gradually drifted apart, but we would still talk on the phone now and then and keep in touch. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and drove all the way from another state to attend my baby shower.

We were the kind of friends who didn’t have to talk every month, but when we DID get around to talking, it was as if no time had passed at all, and we would laugh and giggle and feel nineteen again.

A while back she called and left me a message. It was a bad week for me. I was in the middle of two hundred things at once so I didn't call her back. It wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes we would play phone tag for weeks before actually getting in touch with each other, and it was almost never urgent.

The next week, she called me again. I was in a non-social kind of mood that day, so I didn’t call her back, but made a mental note to call her the next day. I didn’t get around to calling though, because mental notes are pretty much useless when your brain is a sieve.

The next week, she called me again. I didn’t call her back, but thought, MAN, I really need to call her back.

The next week she called me AGAIN, sounding understandably peeved. This time I thought, MAN, I really need to call her back, with a side order of wait, before I call I have to think of a good excuse for why I didn’t call her back the first three times. So I made a note to call her RIGHT AFTER I thought of a good reason.

Pllllllbbbbt.

The next week she called me again and left a message saying, “I guess you’re never gonna call me back. I don’t understand what’s going on. Are you mad at me or something?”

Ashamed of myself, I finally called her back and apologized.

Oh, except I DIDN’T. I felt dumb, because I’d created this big dramatic thing out of thin air, simply by not calling back. I was too embarrassed to call and tell her the truth - HEY, I’m sorry, I’m a lazy and THOUGHTLESS JERK. I thought she would just be mad if I called her, and I hate drama, and because I’m a cowardly coward who cowards I thought, ah, well, we never talked all that often anyway. So basically I threw our friendship away. Swish-swish-swish, into the trash. Over NOTHING.

Because I’m a self-involved idiot with the emotional maturity of a gnat.

I ask you, who DOES that??!

When I told my sisters about this on Saturday they sat and stared at me for a minute, speechless, shaking their heads at my complete and total social idiocy and dorkitude. I know they were wondering what was missing in my SOUL that I would do that to somebody. So yes, I know. I KNOW. I KNOW!!! (Don’t tell me in the comments – I KNOW! I KNOW!!!)

Why didn’t I call her? Why did I put my own feelings of embarrassment ahead of our friendship? ACK!

I know what the answer to the question is of course. I didn’t call her because I’m a JERK.

I kept thinking, you know, if I had her email address, I could just post about it and send her the link to my blog instead of calling her to apologize (like an actual grown-up). Because heaven forbid I should have to feel awkward for two-and-a-half minutes or actually ask for forgiveness for something I did to hurt someone. But that would kind of be a jerk move. Also, I don't have her email address.

So today? TWO YEARS LATER? (I KNOW - SHUT UP.) I'm going to call her.

Wish me luck. On the phone call, and on perhaps someday achieving emotional maturity.

65 comments:

  1. She'll probably forgive you. And I think it's just your weird phone thing, and not jerkiness, which is really very weird, but I will now SHUT UP.

    Good luck.

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  2. Good luck. I think we've all been somewhere like you are now...so, good luck. And you never know - maybe she's been lurking around your blog for the past two years, and she'll just laugh when you call, because she already knows!

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  3. Wow. You take procrastination to new heights (or depths, really). Sort of like me with returning those library books. I could renew them online, but I don't do that, because then I would see how many are overdue and I don't want to know. So I ignore them. Totally. Until I get a letter from some sort of collection agency.

    Too bad there isn't some sort of friendship collection agency to light a fire under a person at a time like this....you could get a letter saying, "We will be forced to take legal action unless you get in touch with so-and-so within the next 5 days..."

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  4. Maddison12:26 PM

    Wow. At least you're facing it though.
    Sometimes things just build in our heads like that: I just recently contacted someone whom I hadn't talked to in YEARS just because I wanted to apologize for being a real punk all those years ago. They were like, "Um... Maddison who??"
    So, maybe it will turn out alright after all? Hopefully!

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  5. Wow. Good luck. I'm on the other end of that. I'm addicted to talking on the phone. I'm the one who always calls and keeps in touch with everybody and feels stupid and needy when I call several times in a row and never get a return call. See? She probably was just feeling stupid too. I've been known to test people. If I don't call her, how long will it take for her to decide to call me? Two years is a new threshold. I hope it goes well.

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  6. Obviously the immediate response is WOW. See how you impress us?!

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  7. So um... did you actually make the call? (I know, shut up!!) I'm only asking because, uh... I would have told everyone I would and then never did it.

    When you find that emotional maturity, please give me directions would you? I'm still looking for mine.

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  8. Shannon12:52 PM

    Ohhhhhh, I am cringing as I read this. I have done this to not one, but TWO friends (so far). And I know what you mean, after so much time goes by you need a real good excuse to give for not calling, and I never thought of one so I just never called. And then one texted me her new phone number, and I forgot to enter it into my phone or save the text, so yeah. I am about the biggest jerk in the world.

    I really hope the phone call goes well!!!! Good luck!

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  9. It's ok Sue. There are others like you out there. Not me, of course, I always answer my phone on the first ring and return calls within minutes. Just don't ask my friends if that's true.

    Good luck, girl. Although I don't think you'll need it. How can you not accept the apology of someone that keeps saying she's a jerk?

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  10. Good luck!
    I can relate to ending up in a huge mess because of just putting things off too long. Oh can I relate.
    ...feeling very very guilty now...and WHEN oh when will I become a real grown-up?

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  11. ahh, I hope it all works out...

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  12. Oh I hope it goes ok - I have to admit I have been the one who a good friend pulled away from, about a year after I had my daughter. It devastated me that she wasn't there for me any more. Now she's had a kid, and I guess understands more my own mindset then, and she regularly writes to me and I am the one holding back because I can't get hurt like that again...I hope it goes well for you.

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  13. Okay, I hate to admit it, I'm in the exact same position and I just ran across her blog. Oh, I really need to face my fear and just call her. I miss her. Good luck!

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  14. Definitely call her! Losing good friends sucks.

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  15. You're not a jerk, but I'm glad you're calling her. Good luck!

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  16. You are so me. Sorry for that, by the way.

    I pulled the same stunt one time. After I engaged in a rousing bout of verbal self-flagellation with my friend, she forgave me and we went back to talking about other people behind their backs. Best of luck that your story ends the same way.

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  17. I was not thinking that you're a jerk. I was thinking, "Crap, I need to call back my friend who called me a month ago. And alos, I hope Sue tells me the brilliant excuse she came up with because I'm gonna need it ,too." And then AFTER that I was like, "Uh, so call her!" Because it's easier to fix your problem than it is to fix my own.

    So did you call her? And did she take you back? She better have.

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  18. Hi, so, I read your blog sometimes and I TOTALLY relate to the screening-all-calls, never-calling-back thing. But, here is the magical solution in my life: text messaging. I will let whoever is calling go to voicemail, and if they don't leave a message, fine, they must not need me that badly. But if they need something specific (and I am still feeling phone-a-phobic)... ta-da!!!!!!!! Text message. Short, sweet, no room for them to denounce me for x and y offenses. You should look into it.

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  19. I've done the same thing...partly because of the weird phone thing, partly because of crappy self-esteem and kind of shrugging and thinking they aren't missing out on much...after all, it's just -me-, you know?

    Pretty messed up now I come to think of it.

    Good luck!

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  20. The dread is worse than the actual event. I understand the snowball of dread and regret.

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  21. Yay you! Read this to her, word for word. ;-)

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  22. Good luck! It probably won't be as bad as you think. She will probably just be glad that you called.

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  23. Oh my gosh, I can totally relate. I do not like to talk on the phone. Good on you for actually picking up the phone (unless you didn't, but I hope you did) - I know it wasn't easy! You better let us know what happened!

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  24. I've done the same things so many times. I've even done it with emails, how pathetic is that. As if I didn't see the email or something. So did you call? What happened? We're all dying to know here. Hope you exchanged emails at least so that you can email her the next time she calls. And maybe explain your weird phone thing, just in case she wasn't aware. Then she can phone screen stalk you and at least know that you are probably there just freaking out.
    Good luck!

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  25. I've been there. I have a 'weird phone thing', too! (Once again, I'm glad it's not just me!) My friend understood, and I bet yours will, too. I owned up to it, told her I had been feeling guilty for being a crappy friend which made it harder to contact her, and that I was going to make a non-New Years resolution to be a better friend. I bet your friend will be so excited just to have you back that it will all be forgotten very soon.

    Good luck! (As if you needed it!)

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  26. Ah hahahahahaha! YOU SUCK! This sounds like something my poor Phone-phobic husband would do. Truly... I feel for you. Both.

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  27. Funny, sounds like my old friend and me, except I was the emailer who eventually just gave up... Kinda makes me wonder what was really going on with her...

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  28. I hopped over here from Grace for Gayle- i couldn't resist your blog's name. You seem real and honest here- hopefully you said what you wrote here to your friend. I got my old friends emails and I am way better at staying in touch that way.

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  29. If it makes you feel any less jerky, as a teenager I once stole $20 out of my sister's purse. I felt horrible about it, but obviously not *that* horrible because I didn't do anything about it until I was 25. And even then all I did was secretly stick $20 back in her purse. Then, another SEVEN YEARS later I gave a talk in church about repentence (on my sister's bday, no less) and realized - finally - that I had to call her and spill my guts. I did it and you know what happened? She laughed at me and completely forgave me.

    So I guess what I'm saying is... I agree with Farm Suite. The dread is worse than actually making the call, and when you're done, you're going to feel GREAT! Good luck to you!

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  30. First time here and LOVED what a terrible friend you are! ;)

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  31. I rarely comment because I'm always the last of like 30 to do so, but I'm still going to...because I can relate to this post.

    I've done this a time or two to some friends. Recently, after feeling guilty about "blowing someone off" I felt guilty and emailed her a gushing apology.

    She told me she had no clue what I was talking about.

    *sigh*

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  32. Whispering (I haven't called yer yet.) What.

    I haven't found her number yet. It's around here somewhere. DEFINITELY SOMETIME TONIGHT.

    ISH. Tonight-ISH.

    Or maybe TOMORROW.

    FOR SURE the next day.

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  33. I mean HER yet. I haven't called her yet.

    (I don't know what a yer is.)

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  34. For what it's worth, after I had kids, I called our best friends once a week for a year, and they never called me back. FOR A YEAR. We are still friends, though I depend on them less now, and get very impatient if they ever say "I'll call you".

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  35. GOOGLE it SUE!!!! Or look on Veromi.com I mean goodness.... you can find anyone on the net if needed!

    Good luck!

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  36. I've been having the same problem since I moved in August. It's just hard sometimes to fit everybody in. Good for you that you are returning the phone calls now. I'm making a note to return a phone call from November. Thanks!

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  37. Sometimes, we're all a little bit of a phone jerk. My Best friend called, really upset, and I only half listened because I was reading blogs. So she got some sympathetic grunting and the endless sound of me typing comments on other people's problems.

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  38. It is never too late to apologize. You do have a phone phobia, so I would probably chalk it up to that. Sorry, I hate it when I do dumb stuff to my friends. Good luck!

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  39. At this point in your life, when you are looking for friends, it would seem like the time to make amends with old friends, especially Terry, who has been a good friend for so long (until, possibly, now). I hope you use your internet savvy and find her number right away. She already knows what a goofball you can be sometimes and will probably be greatly relieved to know that she did not offend you. Eating crow and humble pie can be a very healthy diet. Chow down!

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  40. Oh crap.... this is the Fates telling me to go call my BFF Aubrey that I haven't talked to in a year. Thanks Sue.

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  41. while you're calling your friend can you call mine to and just let her know that I am a total retard, and im sorry that its taken me over 19months to return all her calls? Yeah. I am a looser too.
    Not that you're a looser.
    You're not.
    Just me.
    I don't even have a good excuse like being afraid of the phone... I just didn't call her back. Then I got embarrassed. And now its just been far far too long. But, I miss her.
    You know?
    sheesh.
    so, can you just tell her all that for me? Then get her email?

    Thanks. :>) And good luck!

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  42. Good for you for facing up to it! Bravo! Can't wait to hear about it!

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  43. So nice to know I'm not alone.

    Your post inspired my own long and rambling post on the same topic. Of course yours is funny and touching and just a touch self-depricating whereas mine is just rambling excuses, but if you're still procrastinating, come on over.

    I hope you're not still procrastinating though. Your friendship is worth it (and I'd forgive you).

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  44. CALL HER. And get her email address, you know, for future non phone days.

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  45. When you pick up the phone just imagine this whole group of people cheering for you! You can do it! If you get the machine leave YOUR email address and say it is the best way to get a hold of you.
    YOUR excuse, life has just been crazy... everyone gets that.
    Pam
    http://coloradomcewens.blogspot.com/

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  46. So...? How'd it go?

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  47. right. so how did it go?

    I hope well...and sometimes by just admitting that you made a mistake can make things all better, I hope that is the case here.

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  48. Um.

    Today is the day. I can feel it in my bones. I even googled her and found her phone number. So I'm all ready to go.

    Right after I finish this bid response.

    I AM. I SWEAR.

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  49. Go YOU.
    After a few moments of apologizing she'll probably come around...you're doing the right thing.

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  50. Oh, Sue, you crack me up. You're not going to do it, are you?

    That is why I love you.

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  51. !!! Your sisters stared at u only for a minute? *sigh* I guess they're very understanding then lol!
    I think this is what community sies are for.. for those who prefer their keyboard to the phone!
    Anyway.. err.. called her?

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  52. Thinking of it, even I've done this once, BUT she was not my best friend. I never called her back because I wanted her to stop calling me. It took long, but I finally managed to get the message through *evil chuckle*

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  53. Good luck! If she's a true friend she should know your phobia of phone calls. Tell her you've been trying new medicine to help you over come it. Okay, so it's just baby asprin but SHE doesn't know that! :)

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  54. Just found you and now I HAVE to know what happens with your call. Hope you post the outcome,and good luck! We've all done things that appear to be unintelligetn at times. ;)

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  55. I'm the other friend, the one who calls, and calls, and calls.

    I understand that I have some friends who are not phone people and who do not answer their phone and don't like to return calls. This is the price I pay to be friends with them, and I know it.

    Although, after a couple of weeks of one friend not returning my call I left the following message, *ahem*

    "If you think you can hide from me YOU TOTALLY CAN'T. I will go to your house and hunt you down. You can't hide forever!! So call me back, K?"

    We're still best friends.

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  56. Good luck, I hope everything works out. Definitely keep us updated.

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  57. You are totally normal...so count yourself in the millions of DON'T CALL BACK people out there...email and texting are just SO much easier! :)

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  58. Oh my gosh, you are describing me to a tee. I HATE talking on the phone, and I get super embarassed when too much time goes by since their last message ... so then I just let more time go by. It's a vicious cycle I tell ya.

    Just wanted to de-lurk to tell you you're not the only one.

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  59. Did you call? I hope so, although I would totally do this. Social anxiety weirdness sucks. I don't think you're a jerk, at all. We need social anxiety awareness month. We can all get shirts and wear bracelets and ribbons. Shirts will have slogans like, "I don't hate you, I'm just afraid of talking to you. I am the face of social anxiety."

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  60. First off, if you are wondering what a 'yer' is...here is an example:
    "I like yer shirt."

    It's Alabama slang.

    Anyway...maybe when you call you can break the ice with a joke like by saying, "Sheesh, what's up, you never call or write..." hahahahaha

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  61. I would totally do that. and I'd feel ok(ish) about it because really you don't talk that much... ok maybe I'm bad and socially inept too.

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  62. Say "Hi" from me.

    Don't worry too much about it. Life gets busy & hectic...she'll understand...she's such a sweet person.

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  63. I totally had one of those
    emotionally immature moments this week too. I HATE THOSE! Yuck! I am so proud of you for calling! Did you try back again yet?

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  64. I love confrontation. I can't wait to find someone who hates me (aka my mother-in-law) so I can confront them. I spend all my spare moments thinking about confrontational conversations and how I can out confront the other person (her name is Trish). Of course, when I actually see my nemesis (above mentioned evil viper), I smile sweetly (as does she) and pretend that she likes me (as does she). I guess I'm a liar. I hate confrontation.

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  65. thewoobdog12:49 PM

    Ok. Let me just say:

    SO. SOMETHING. I WOULD HAVE DONE.

    You could be me, blogging about myself. Seriously.

    It's sick. Why do I do this? Why can't I just. call. back? Why put myself through the guilt and shame of my antisocial childish failures to communicate?

    ;-P Hope the call went well!

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