The night before my eighth grade graduation ceremony, I stayed up late writing cute letters to all ten of my best friends. We were leaving our small Catholic school and all going off to our own different high schools. Despite the fact that we had all written something in each other’s yearbooks, getting a handwritten note from someone meant you were really close. After the ceremony, we would pass out the letters, hug each other and cry a little bit.
But one letter that I was writing was going to make someone cry for an entirely different reason – the note to one of my best friends, M. M and I had been besties since we were in third grade, but for years we had done more fighting than getting along. I had finally made the decision that enough was enough: I didn’t want to be friends with her anymore.
While everyone else’s letters were filled with funny inside jokes, cute comments and lots of “I’ll miss you so much!” lines, M’s went something like this :
Sorry to tell you this, but I don’t want to be friends with you anymore. We fight all the time and I don’t think we should stay friends during high school. Sorry.
P.S. You can’t come to Fire Island with S and me in August
Okay, so there was a little more detail than that, but basically I told her I didn’t want to be her friend and uninvited her to go on vacation with my family and our other friend. Thinking back, this was probably the nastiest way I could have ended our friendship. But my 13-year-old self didn’t see it that way. And so, after the ceremony, I handed out my letters and hugged all of my best girl friends. And when M came skipping up to me, gave me a hug and handed me my letter, I handed hers over without a second thought. Then, obviously, I ran in the opposite direction.
Later on, I heard that M went home and cried for hours while her mother tried to console her. The worst part was that, thanks to my letter and brutal honesty, she lost other friends besides just me. I was closer to everyone in our group than she was and so I kind of got everyone on my side before M could. We spent most of our time talking about her and making fun of her, and when she was around, she was basically ignored.
Truthfully, M was never a great friend to begin with. She was bossy, bratty, dramatic and super competitive. She was also extremely jealous of everything I did that didn’t include her. During middle school, my two very best friends were M and another girl named S. However, during the course of our friendship, S and I got super close while M was kind of left behind. M constantly complained about it and fought with us, and it drove me insane. S and I avoided her constantly, and we were always talking about her. I thought, why should I stay friends with someone like this? I couldn’t think of a reason not to tell her the truth.
A few months after writing M that letter, I started to miss her. Sure, she was annoying and kind of manipulative, but she also knew all of my secrets and had always been loyal to me. I felt horrible for what I had done to her, and eventually wrote her another note – this one saying how sorry I was. Our friendship never picked back up again, and to this day, we ignore each other.
Today, I read stories about bullying and feel disgusted by the terrible things kids do to each other. I’ve always prided myself on being a nice girl with way too much empathy for others, but looking back at the totally bitchy thing I did to M, I have to admit that I was once kind of a bully also. Thinking about that note makes me cringe, and I wish that I had been nicer to her. Because despite the fact that M was a total frenemy, I know that I still shouldn’t have ended things the way I did. There are much nicer ways to stop being friends with someone – for one thing, not ruining their eighth grade graduations or writing mean notes disguised as sweet ones.
Have you ever bullied someone? Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever ended a friendship? Tell me in the comments.