Mean Girl to the Rescue!

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Monday, March 20, 2006

You gotta have friends

Hopped online this morning to find this missive from a long-ago high school buddy, K:

Mrs. H!?!

I hope that you haven't forgotten good old K ...


I just got my alumni directory and HAD to send you an e-mail.

Sorry we lost touch when you were in college. I got a little freaky around that time and wound up following the Grateful Dead around for a while and just basically being a party girl (U2 reference!!) Well, now I'm married, almost 7 years, to be exact. My husband is a down-to-earth freak, just what a spacey freak like me needed. He is also the complete opposite of me, personality wise, so that works, too. I guess you're married now, too. Or, you just changed your name to confuse and elude the public.

Anyway, this is just a short note to say hi after all these years and that I've always thought of you and Frau Doktor and all the fun we had in high school, which sucked. You and she were the only people I really thought of as friends then, mostly because I hated everyone. I think you can understand. Well, if you have some time, please write back or call me anytime (xxx-xxx-xxxx home or xxx-xxx-xxxx cell). I'd love to hear from you.

Hope all is well.


First, a little background. K was the new girl in school at the tail-end of grade school (wherein she affected a near-constant tough-girl stance and threatened to slit her wrists with emery boards), but I don't recall being particularly friendly with her until high school.

Later we got to be good friends, but she had a crappy home life (divorced parents, living with her dad and stepmom and much-favored half-sister, who was a juvenile delinquent and went to reforem school), and every so often she would sort of freak out a bit. Usually this would take the form of lashing out at me and our other friends, giving us all the silent treatment for a few days, and then sitting down with us at lunchtime later in the week as if nothing had happened. Sometimes we knew why she was angry, sometimes we didn't. Often, I would react to her lashing out with an equally abrasive remark, which I can see now was the wrong approach. It's hard for me now to remember what it was like to be a petulant teenage girl, which makes me a bit sad, because I was SO moody and alienated that I figured I would always understand the complexity of the feelings I had then. But K had me beat - no one was moodier or more alienated, and when she wasn't brooding, she was acting out. I was a fairly naive schoolgirl, and although K wasn't a crazed drug-addled tramp, she engaged in enough risky and off-the-wall behavior that she made me nervous (her smoking pot bonding experience with her real mom, whom she wasn't supposed to see, comes to mind, as well as one adventure in which we hung out at some dude's house drinking beers after taking a valium apiece).

In college, our bond became looser, but we were still semi-friendly, until she invited herself to my school for the weekend and attended the Artfag Ball, which was an annual quasi-formal party, well-attended by all the wacky, debauched students at my small art school. Mainly, it was an excuse to dress up, or dress in drag, or dress as a corpse in disco clothes - if it was fabulous, it was accepted. K attended the party with me, got piss drunk off of 2 beers, and proceeded to bump 'n' grind the majority of the people on the dance floor. "Wow, your friend is drunk!" was the refrain I heard over and over again that night, soon followed by, "Your friend needs to go to bed!" I lost track of her and didn't see her until the next morning, when she did the walk of shame back to my dorm from the apartment complex across the street (while I worried myself sick she'd been raped or killed - I had no idea where she was). She had spent the night with the roommate of one of my friends, and it was the story of the hour on my small campus. I was mortified.

A few weeks later, she developed a relationship with a friend of a friend on campus who was known for doing lots of drugs and filing his long nails into points. The alliance didn't last, but she did recommend to me that if I ever needed to get laid, I should go looking for him (um, no thanks!). This was followed by many sob stories that had a ring of untruth and prominently featured her victimization and desire for vengeance. It was getting harder and harder to stay friends, and I wasn't up to the task. After that, I let her sort of fade away, talking to her on the phone occasionally, but not going out of my way to remain in touch. I felt a little guilty, but I got over it. The other friends we'd had had already cut her loose in high school and didn't fault me for wanting shot of her. I felt like I had wasted too much time commiserating with her on her hard-luck situations, offering advice that would never be taken, being sucked dry by someone I now considered an emotional vampire.

I guess what I'm asking is, should I allow this person entrance back into my life? I've prided myself on lately weeding out the bad friends and culling in the good ones. I'd hate to dismiss her on the basis of her jackassery 15 years ago - maybe she has changed and grown as a person, and I certainly wasn't the greatest person in the world when I was 19 - but I'd hate to let her back in and then be stuck shoring her up in her personal high dramatics again. Does this make me a bad person? Shallow? Selfish? I welcome your input, just don't bash me too hard.

13 Comments:

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous rhonda said...

Hey Mrs. Harridan. Found you through Izzy.

No, don't let her back into your life. I had a friend in HS and down the road lost touch. Then she came back into my life for a while and all hell broke loose. She was needy, wanting to talk on the phone all the time, etc. I have a family, no time for what she wanted.

So, based on that experience, e-mail only is the way to go.

Great site by the way :)

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger MisterBaggins said...

You will more than likely fall into the same dynamics you had before unless you really make a point of asserting youself. Sometimes it's just not worth it.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I have to say anyone you thought of as an "emotional vampire" sounds like someone you don't need in your life. You could either ignore the email completely, or write back to thank her for writing you, good to hear from you, etc. etc., but don't offer your phone number. I don't think it makes you shallow or selfish at all.

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Arabella said...

This is a toughie. I've "broken up" with some friends in the past and have always felt terrible about it; I think that simply growing apart and losing touch is far preferable.

If I were in your shoes, I might or might not respond via e-mail, just to say hello and tell her that you're glad she is happy and sort of make it apparent that a regular frienship will not resume as a result of this contact, and leave it at that. I would not get into phone calls.

I guess the real issue is, even if she's a totally different person now (and it's entirely likely that she could be), do you want to make room in your life right now for this person, also taking into account the risk that there's been no substantial change and all the troubling behavior will resume?

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Arabella said...

Oh, and you're a really, really good person. Not shallow or selfish at all!

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Tits McGee said...

Well, who knows, maybe she has changed. I was a bit of a basket case myself back in high school (as you may have been reading about), and certainly was not the most reliable or giving friend. I grew out of the drama, and maybe she has, too. Hell, maybe she's even done some therapy!

I would advise going the e-mail route until you get a sense of where she's at now, but it seems to me there's no harm in returning her e-mail, especially if she doesn't live nearby and you don't provide her with your phone number or address. Since starting my blog, I've re-connected with two ex-boyfriends and a very good high school friend I lost contact with about five or six years ago. It's been a really nice experience getting to know them as adults.

Then again, if you don't have especially warm feelings towards her, and don't feel like getting all nostalgic, you could just give it a miss. And no, that doesn't make you selfish. A healthy person looks out for her own well-being.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger mama_tulip said...

I'm going to ride on Arabella's coat strings here. That's pretty much exactly what I'd do. Please keep us posted!

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger wordgirl said...

I'm with Arabella and the others who echoed her sentiments. A nice e-mail not vaguely outlining your life in a breezy and non-commital tone is the way to go. You can sign it in such a way that it sounds like her letter asked a question and yours answered it and...you know...that's it.

People do change. One of the ways they show that change is to verbally own up to any past destructive behaviors. If she just sounds as if she's making excuses for herself (and admittedly...she did have a crappy life), then take a while to respond to her and continue to keep it light.

Lengthy letters show interest in the other person. Keep yours brief-yet-kind.\

And..you're a totally nice person.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said...

Well, I'm gonna be honest here - if it were me (in your situation I mean) I'd just ignore the e-mail. Cop out, yeah, I know. But stuff like that just gives me the willies - not like she's a stalker or anything but it just seems that you two had a very different perception of your relationship, i.e. she thinks it's something it wasn't, and unless she's been through some serious therapy she is probably the same or worse. So yeah, rude, wimpy, cowardly, whatever, I just don't have room in my life for stuff like that. I mean, my life is so drama free I don't even want to open the door in the slightest to something like that.

 
At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

I'd probably do what arabella and tits mcgee (heh) suggested -- maybe respond but keep it light and non-committal, see if she responds in a way that strikes you as desperate/freaky (big red flags then) or if she seems to just be reaching out to several people at once. I agree with what others said -- if she did cause you pain in your past, it's possible things may not change once in your dynamics with her now.

Good luck. And you are totally a nice person, which is evident in the way you talk about her and this event.

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous TB said...

I just scanned the comments before mine, but I would say if you're truly interested in seeing if this person has grown and may be better friend material now, maybe have just enough contact with her to be able to ascertain if she's changed. I am a completely different person than I was at 19.

But on the other hand, if you don't have the energy for it, let it go. That doesn't make you a bad person.

 
At 12:38 AM, Blogger IzzyMom said...

I dunno...emotional vampires is a term I also use on occasion and it's been my experience that people like that don't really change much. On the other hand, I think I'd be curious so I guess I'd recommend what a few other have which is contact her and keep it light and non-committal.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Suebob said...

I probably wouldn't reply. It is great that she thinks enough of you to contact you, but on the other hand, life goes on and both of you have had opportunities to make other friends. If she has a new lifestyle, she can make friends that fit within that lifestyle instead of reaching way back to drag people from the past into her life again.

 

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