While I was sleeping…
Guess who left me a comment last night at 1.45 am? OMG, OMG, OMG!!! It was Mrs. G of the Derfwad Manor! I am never going to sleep again! Ok, maybe an occasional catnap. First, Suburban Correspondent, and now Mrs. G! I am becoming famous! If you have never visited that Manor, I highly recommend. A warning to my conservative friends: Mrs. G is unapologetically liberal, but she rarely talks about politics and is very, very funny! I particularly like her Secret Boyfriend entries.
But Mrs. G’s last night’s entry was of a different kind; it was a trip down the memory lane, about a friend’s betrayal. It brought me to thinking about my own experience with this subject. Unlike Mrs. G, no friend of mine ever stole my boyfriend; mine was betrayal of a different kind. Did it leave me less trusting? I would like to believe no. But this and other betrayals in life made me think about what was better: to trust less and have less fulfilling friendships or have real friends, but run the risk of another heartbreak?
So here’s the story of my first betrayal. Luda (let’s call her that) and I were 12 years old at the time. We became best friends pretty much the first day she came to my pre-K and were almost inseparable for 6 years. We shared all our secrets, mischief, dreams and crushes. I saved my treats to share with her the next day in school. We even discussed our kids playing together in the very distant future because we were supposed to be friends forever. Then one day we had a fight, one of many stupid meaningless fights girls of that age have. It was so insignificant, that I quickly forgot what we fought about and was sure that in no time we would be friends again.
But I was wrong. I don’t think I have ever spoken to her again, even though we were in the same class and physically in the same room for several hours each day. Maybe I did say a few things like “excuse me” and asked to return the money and the book that she borrowed, but it is also possible that I didn’t. Because the next day after the fight she passed me a note during a class, which said, “I told Maya (also not real name) everything.” I remember the note and the cold feeling in my stomach. Maya was the girl who was not particularly nice to me for some unknown reason. We never openly fought, but every now and then she would make snide remarks about or to me without any provocation on my part. I could never find what to say back to her because she was so pretty, so well dressed, so neat and organized - so much better than me… So I took my revenge once and only once by saying trash about her to my then best friend. I just didn’t know how else to express my frustration and regretted what I said almost immediately. What I said was supposed to stay between my friend, my true friend and I and be quickly forgotten like many stupid things we told each other.
And now all the dumb things I said in confidence were repeated to Maya. For no reason other than to hurt me, to win the fight. This was my first true betrayal. Before long, Maya’s mother got involved and fortunately didn’t blow things out of proportion. We had a short, but very unpleasant conversation, at the end of which this woman said, “Maybe you should pick your friends better.” If I remember correctly, I replied that I already knew that. I just hope I was polite saying that because looking back, this woman really couldn’t have handled the situation better.
But this was not the end of my woes. I refused to acknowledge Luda or have any dealings with her. I think she did not expect that. One night my father got a phone call from Luda’s mother, and in a 30-minute conversation got an earful about all the mischief I got into in the prior two years. (And before your imagination runs wild, my misdeeds were very timid, prank calling and smoking my first cigarette were among the more serious ones. But I am sure hearing about them, especially from another “concerned” parent and especially all at once was not particularly pleasant.) Needless to say, I experienced one of the worst nights of my teenage life. At the end of the very long conversation with my parents, I found out that they never particularly liked Luda, but never told me that. With all his outrage at my antics, I saw that Dad felt bad for me. He knew that I was betrayed. He knew that friends shouldn’t do what Luda did.
I think this whole episode happened in early spring. I quickly made friends with another girl in my class. Two days after classes resumed in the fall, Luda transferred to another school. I never saw her again. But some time in the winter I received a letter from her, saying that she was truly sorry for what happened. She never made any friends in her new school and regretted losing the only true friendship she had. She wanted us to be friends again, friends in the true meaning of that word. I quickly wrote a very long reply, where I recounted all the wrongs she had done to me, all the things I had to overlook during our 6 years of friendship, told her I couldn’t forgive her and the only reason for her very late apology was her loneliness. Had she made new friends, she wouldn’t be apologizing to me. I am proud to say I never mailed that response. I waited several months before writing another one. I simply didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to kick someone on the low, but I didn’t have anything to offer either. Then finally my new best friend shamed me about not responding, and I finally wrote another letter. It was much shorter, kinder, but still with the tact and straightforwardness of a young teen. I basically said that all was forgiven, but my trust was broken, and it would take a lot to become friends again. I wished Luda luck and expressed hope that she would find friends in her new school. She never replied. A few years later I heard a rumor that Luda’s family moved to Germany, but no one knew when and to where.
Many years have passed. I would occasionally remember about Luda and try to find her on Classmates.com, through Google or by other means. Then I think about what I would do if I actually found her, what I would say, come up with nothing worthy and abandon the search only to pick it up a few months later. I hope she is well and happy, and I guess I just want proof.
As for myself, I have answered the question of whether or not to trust someone again long time ago. The girl, who became my best friend shortly after our falling out with Luda, turned out to be one of the most trustworthy people I know. Our friendship was much deeper and healthier than my previous one. (And my parents approved. I think.) We still shared all our secrets and crushes; but we also shared ideas, discussed ideals, the meaning of life and love and pretty much everything we could think of for hours. We were still young and silly girls and had stupid fights, but we always made up. And we are still friends to this day, really, really good friends, best friends forever. Despite the distance, the time, the different religions, the not seeing each other for years and busy lives. And despite me losing her phone number every time I find it (thank G-d for email).
As I got older, I don’t necessarily think that sharing every single thought and feeling is necessary or even desirable. But I do know that if I need to share, there is a person across the ocean who would listen, understand and keep it to herself. That kind of friendship would have never happened had I clammed up and refused to trust anyone again.