anxiety · friendship · life · social anxiety

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

My friendship with Annelise has officially come to a close. The weight of my culpability and the guilt I feel over the situation hangs over me heavily. Basically, I fucked up and I know it. Mixed in is a torrid of other emotions. Shame, reluctance, anger, pride, sadness, regret.

Anyone reading this should be advised that this post is very long, so if you wish to continue, you’re in for a long and tedious read.

As described in my last post, Annelise had invited me to a meditation meetup within the social anxiety group on Thursday. I agreed to go, but I also hinted that I felt reluctant to go, out of nervousness about seeing familiar faces from the SA group that I haven’t seen in a while.

The short story is, the day of the event, I got cold feet. Had it only been Annelise who was going to be there, I would’ve perhaps pushed myself to go. Instead, I lost my mind thinking about having to juggle with greeting the people I recognized. Plus I was worried about the Central Park meet up because I had seen the name of one of my friends on the RSVP list, and she’s someone I haven’t seen since probably July or August. Back then, I had met up with her to give her back a book I borrowed, and I was so nervous that I hardly spoke for the 40-something minutes we spent walking down the street.

While all this went on in my head, I tried to take a deep breath and tell myself to take one task at a time and stop listing things in my head. This is something I read in a recent self-help book that I found reasonable. But that didn’t work because then I looked at the clock and saw that it was almost noon, and even if I left the house promptly then to get on the train, I would have almost certainly be late to meditation because it started at 12:45 pm. And so commenced my descent back into anxiety. Then, I got stuck in the haze of inaction. I knew the right thing to do would be to text Annelise and tell her I wouldn’t be there. Instead, my mind raced and raced as I contemplated what to do or not to do. First and foremost, I was worried about her reaction if she knew I wasn’t coming. I thought about what it would feel like for me to process her anger and have to respond to it. That, and the fact I am incredibly hard on myself when I say I’m going to do something and then start waffling to the point I decide not to do it. And when that happens, I give myself a mental beat down, almost like an instinctual punishment, for not following through with my own plans. I end up imagining Annelise’s bitter disappointment at learning of my change of plans, which only fuels my own contempt at myself. In the end, I never find out if my imagined fears ring true or not because I never texted Annelise.

I speculate it was a coping mechanism to combat the influx of panic and indecision I was feeling, so during this time, I persuaded myself that perhaps Annelise would somehow understand why I didn’t show up. I spoke to her in the past, at length, about my avoidance tendencies. Later that day, when it was 4 pm, after the conclusion of both meet ups, I considered texting her. Like a shadow creeping out of nowhere, the thought alone of the possibilities that would arise from such an action put me off from typing anything to her. But I felt curious enough to check the event pages and was surprised to find that the host has left a comment on both pages stating the meetups were canceled. However, one thing to note is the meditation class is not exclusive to SA only group members, so even if the host cancels, the event itself still occurs at the location because it is actually the meditation instructor who teaches the actual class.

Friday rolled by. It was in the evening, perhaps around 7:20-ish pm. Annelise messaged me. That’s  conversation started out casual enough. She asked how I was. I asked what happened to the meetup host. Eventually, she asked why I didn’t text her about not coming. I admitted, with reluctance, that I felt anxious about her reaction to my cancellation. She responded with “ok”, which is such a mild reply via text that I couldn’t decipher if she felt angry or confused or frustrated with my answer. My instinct told me to apologize to her for being such an inconvenience and that I was truly sorry for not letting her know right away about my change in plans. But I stopped myself from it. I don’t know why. All I remember in this moment is the feeling of being out in the open. Vulnerable, even. It was a feeling I did not like and wanted to put away and never look at again. Now looking back, I know it was: Shame. I was caught, with the headlights pointed at me, because I had wronged a friend, and I didn’t want to feel it. Why? It’s hard to truly know. Because it was uncomfortable to accept what I had done? Perhaps. I could also speculate that, given my history of avoiding confrontations because I don’t like conflict, I was being evasive for this reason as well.

Later that evening at close to 11 pm, Annelise texted me saying, “I think you hurt my feelings. But I don’t want to discuss it. Goodbye”. I wrote back with a genuine apology, or at least as genuine I felt I could put into written words. Considering she wrote “goodbye”, I tried to explain why I acted the way I did, without excusing my behavior, but to give clarification about why I chose not to text her. I assured her that I understood if she didn’t want to be friends anymore. She wrote back accusing me of caring only about my “alleged anxiety”, which hurt me when I read those words. She insinuated that I don’t care about her, but with the word “alleged”, I was shocked at her mocking tone as if my anxiety is a complete joke to her.

It’s true that my anxiety is an overwhelming force in my life that has filtered into almost every aspect of my life, and I’m unable to make decisions or choices without some kind of anxiety, mild or intense, sitting on my shoulder to guide me along, as terrible as that sounds. In this way, I admit there is selfishness because the times I avoid situations to put a halt to the anxiety I feel, I can see how I come across as rude and ridiculous to other people in the situations. Which is why I can also see why Annelise got angry at me for trying to explain how my anxiety influenced my decision making. I guess in her eyes I was just hiding behind an excuse instead of acknowledging that I stood her up and didn’t bother to message her before or after the meetup.

She even said that she is “so stupid for being friends” with me, but that she was more disappointed with herself than me. She said other things that seem to indicate she is having some kind of struggle, but I don’t know what. Perhaps my behavior towards her exacerbated whatever inner turmoil she has been going through lately? She admitted leaving the SA group and that she needed a break. I felt a little curious and wanted to ask about what she was dealing with, but seeing as she was angry with me, I doubt she would’ve wanted to open herself up to me.

My final message to her was a test of patience for me. I nearly sent an angry retort back at her for the “alleged anxiety” comment but decided not to. Instead I owned up to my mistake about not contacting her, and I agreed that I came across as rude, though I stated that I disagreed with her interpretation of me as only caring about my anxiety. I owned up to the faults in my ways with coping with anxiety and noted that perhaps I am still too immature in my thinking, but that I would learn from my mistakes. Lastly, I said goodbye to her. Did I do the right thing or not? A part of me felt bad for contributing to whatever pain she was feeling, and I thought letting her go would be better.

I do not know if I’ll ever speak to her again after this. Not because I’ll hold a grudge against her, but whatever she is going through, I am not confident I could be much help to her. I ponder whether our friendship was a healthy one. And having lost her as a friend, I think about whether I’m cut out for this friendship business.

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7 thoughts on “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

  1. I think your friend’s reaction was way over the top. I mean, yes, you should have told her you weren’t coming but once you’ve apologised that should be it. She’s entitled to be upset but at the end of the day, your being at the group (or not being there) shouldn’t have an impact on her. From what you say, it seems like she is going through some stuff and taking it out on you because you are an easy target. The alleged anxiety comment is a huge red flag too considering that we ALL have some form of anxiety, some with more extreme cases than others. Given that she was so quick to say it, I wonder how highly she thought of you in the first place.

    Anyway, I think you owned up to your mistake and that’s all you can do. In reacting like that, she made the situation about her. There was no concern for you. In my book, the friendship would be shaky on my end or at least done because one thing I can’t deal with is people who make you feel bad about yourself. The fact that you were so anxious about messaging her kind of says it all.

    I don’t think you’re done with friendship, though. Friends come and go, and no matter how hard we try, they don’t last forever. Focus on figuring yourself out first and worry about friends later 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spoke about the situation with another friend and, to my surprise, he also thinks her reaction was quite intense and that she was putting all her frustrations (related and unrelated to the given situation) on me. I was a no-show, but it’s not like I stood her up at her wedding.

      Yes, the “alleged anxiety” comment stunned me. She’s the last person I thought who would talk to me that way, considering how much she’s been through with SA and related issues that she’s confided me in about. For some of those issues, I have no life experience with, but I always tried to listen and put myself in her shoes, rather than throwing it back in her face.

      An example that comes to mind is a time when I hosted a coloring book meetup within the group. And usually it is right after a meditation class that Annelise likes to attend. There was a day when I decided to schedule my meetup for an earlier time that conflicted with the class, but I didn’t think about the two issues being related. Then she texts me begging me to change the coloring meetup time because she didn’t want to not be able to attend. And she asked me to do it specifically for her sake. I wasn’t mad she asked me and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I couldn’t change the meetup time just to satisfy her. For clarification in this story, I will say that she has OCD, and the reason why she was so panicked about the change of time was because she keeps to a schedule or she will feel anxious and depressed. Instead of changing the time, I tried to encourage her through words and explain that it really would be all right if she wasn’t able to attend the coloring meetup, or even if she wasn’t able to come at the event start time, she could drop by later. She agreed that she’d come by later. Later on she apologized for her reaction and explained her history with OCD.

      There was a similar situation that I now remember in which Annelise perceived another group member had hurt her and was being extremely rude. He was someone I met once too, and he started exchanging texts with Annelise. He asked her to hang out one time, but then he never got back to her about when and where. She was unable to not keep thinking about why he acted he way he did and talked to multiple people about the situation, rather than asking the guy himself about why he didn’t respond. Then she asked my opinion on it after disclosing that the guy has depression in addition to social anxiety. And I told her that him not getting back to her did seem rude, but that he could be going through something that influenced his behavior. I got the sense she didn’t really get what I meant. I tried explaining he could have been too depressed to feel motivated to text her back and make plans, but she dismissed the idea like it was crazy. Instead she seemed to accept that she would never know for sure because she didn’t really know the guy. She also talked a lot about how rejected she felt by the guy due to him never texting her back, and how she had truly wanted to be friends with him. But unlike him, she actually got an answer out of me about why I stood her up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, seems that way. If you’re really worried about the friendship being over, you could just wait for a bit and then test the waters out with a basic ‘hope all is well with you’. Other than that, I’d say that she owes you an apology. I think sometimes people often can’t stand traits in people that they also have themselves or that they have a tendency to do. Take my Dad who takes a million years to do the most basic thing but is extremely impatient when it comes to other people.

        I totally get the whole wondering why someone would worry over why someone offered to hang out but never specifies when and where. However, like you say, we all need to be able to consider the reason why someone wouldn’t make those arrangements. It could be that it wasn’t a serious offer to hang out but more of a thing people say, like, “We should catch up” etc, but yeah, it isn’t like she knew him. That’s most likely why she let it go. With you, it is personal and she probably got some sort of misguided joy out of lashing out at you because she knows you and you’re close. Hopefully you guys can work things out, though. 🙂 Even though I’m a hopeless cynic, the end of the year is the worst time to lose a friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am not sure if I will check up on her in the future. She actually unfriended me on Facebook, though I don’t know at what point during or after my conversation with her that she decided to do that. I get the sense she’s pretty much done with me. This isn’t the first time this year that I lost a friend, with the other situation having nothing to do with SA. I am sad she decided to end things with me, but the way I see it, the end of a friendship doesn’t mean the end of all friendships I may have. I think I have to move on from her. It also feels extremely awkward on Facebook because she and I share mutual friends, and today I saw pictures someone posted that included her in them.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. This is an update on the situation since I’m too lazy to write an entire blog post about it, which might end up being as long as the present post I am commenting on now.

      What happened was the day after Annelise stopped speaking to me, I was messaged by her that night. At first I didn’t even want to look and thought about just turning off my notifications because I had spent the whole day feeling the brute of my severed friendship with her. She actually apologized for the hurtful things she said to me, and acknowledged how wrong her behavior was because she was taking out things on me (some of which had nothing to do with me since she had accumulated stress over other things in her life). But, she also clarified why she was upset at me before because I didn’t acknowledge right away that I hurt her by standing her up after she told me that I did. And she’s right. I may have said “I’m sorry for hurting your feelings” very briefly, but I remember myself becoming very focused (immediately after this) with explaining how my anxiety influenced and/or contributed to my behavior when I didn’t show up to meet up with her and didn’t text her to let her know either. So I really tried harder this time to let her know how sorry I was. She accepted my apology and then apologized again to me for saying mean things to me. I knew she was being genuine, but part of me still felt pain.

      Some hours later I texted back letting her know why. I assumed when she said “alleged anxiety” that she was attacking me about faking anxiety. I learned from her that she actually misused the words “alleged anxiety” since English is not her native tongue and she used “alleged” without having a clear understanding of what the word means. Once she did, she was really remorseful about how I had taken her words.

      So we made up and became friends again. However, the situation has left me more aware than ever of my shortcomings. Despite my anxiety, I really realized in the aftermath that I owed it to her to at least shoot her a quick text if my plans had changed, even if I didn’t want to explain exactly why I didn’t want to come.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You say shortcomings, but I say that you’ve just learnt a vital lesson. In future, you’ll know that letting her know is the best thing. And at the same time, this conflict has given you both a chance to talk things through and work through the misunderstanding. I would rather go through that than just say nothing to the other person. So I’m glad that you both made up! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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