Here's the Moment I Was Finally Ready to End My Toxic Friendship
Michelle* and I had a friendship that seemingly epitomized online fairy tale fate.
We were two grades apart, we didn't have any mutual friends and we somehow came together by some bizarre stroke of cyberspace luck.
Yes, we totally met online and I was a sophomore in high school at the time, while she was an 8th grader at the neighboring junior high. We finally met in person and we were instant best friends. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. How did we become so close all because I stumbled upon her AOL profile (#RIP) and jokingly told my little brother to message her?
Within days of meeting, we were already planning sleepovers, getting our nails done together, making weekly trips to the mall—seriously doing everything. It really felt like fate brought us together. We trusted each other, we were both incredibly passionate about music and we never ran out of topics to discuss.
But I quickly learned that the strength of our friendship, when things were good, matched the intensity of it when things were bad.
(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)
She would accuse me of copying her and would say really hurtful and condescending things. We would fight over everything from our AOL screen names (again, #RIP), to wanting similar pairs of shoes. We would get in horrible raging fights and go weeks (sometimes even a month or two) without talking.
But somehow, we would always come back together. We would find some strange thing that reminded us of the other and slowly start messaging back and forth. But after a few brief correspondences, we would dive head-first back into our best friendship. It was like nothing ever happened!
This went on and on for years. My dad would always refer to Michelle as "on-again, off-again." As time went on, Michelle matured a little faster than me. She was already in a serious relationship (with a guy four years older) by the time she was 14! Meanwhile, I was still pointlessly crushing (obsessing) over my biology lab partner.
Michelle started going to parties with a bit of an older crowd, while I was doing Cruel Intentions movie nights and Cosmic Bowling with my other best friend. The dynamic of our friendship was obviously altered a bit, but despite the lifestyle change, we surprisingly remained good friends. We would talk on the phone for hours every night. She would cry to me about her boy drama and she'd thank me for listening. But again, despite our countless inside jokes and our trusting relationship, the fights were endless and very dramatic. I noticed that not only was Michelle condescending and accusatory, but she was really selfish.
(Glee via Fox)
As the years went on, I eventually went off to college in Oregon, and Michelle moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career. We definitely remained friends and talked all the time as always. As selfish as she was, she oddly had this incredibly kind way of decorating my room and writing these inspirational words all over the place whenever I'd come home from college for holiday breaks. Her sweet, endearing side is what had me sticking around. Actually, there were a lot of things I liked about her. We had an incredibly strong connection—one that neither of us thought could be replaced by anyone.
But aside from the actual fights, themselves, there were particular patterns I picked up on that really hurt my feelings. I would have birthday parties or get-togethers and she'd always make excuses not to come—like as if whatever she was doing or whomever she was hanging out with was way cooler or more important than my life or my friends. I always felt like I had to compete with her. She rarely introduced me to her L.A. friends or guys she was dating. I always felt like I wasn't cool or pretty enough. Not a good way to feel.
It was almost as if I was a loser for taking the college route, when here she was living the good life in L.A., going to parties with celebrities and hanging out at most exclusive nightclubs. I never felt like my stories mattered. I couldn't live up to what she was doing. It was very apparent that she loved the idea that I was "beneath" her. I never in a million years thought I would live up to what she considered "important." My self-esteem was at its lowest when we hung out, even though at times, we were having a blast.
Following graduation, I briefly moved to Orange County, California, to live with my parents while I figured out my next life steps. Michelle was in another serious relationship at this point, and this was the first time that I really noticed a strain in our relationship. There wasn't new drama, per-se, but she was completely wrapped up with the current guy. They went to the river every weekend, his friends became her friends and we really began to drift. During this phase, I started to think more seriously about my career and future. I knew OC was not a place I wanted to stay permanently, but I knew I wasn't ready for somewhere as big as New York—and thanks to Michelle always acting like she's better than me, I didn't think I would ever make it in L.A.
After much consideration, I made the bold move to the City of Angels to pursue a journalism career, and the first year-and-a-half were brutal. Michelle eventually broke up with the guy and she and I started hanging out again, but we were on two completely different wavelengths. Here she was in the thick of her modeling career, brushing elbows with reality stars and powerful business owners, while I was struggling to find a paid internship. I had no friends, no confidence and horrible roommates who I initially thought would be my besties.
Michelle constantly pointed out my flaws and we would have terrible fights. I truly never thought I would get out of this funk, and I hated that she was my only social lifeline. She would be so rude to me, but the moment she needed a shoulder to cry on, guess who she'd call…
Time went on, and I somehow magically scored a part-time job at E! of all places. Then-dream company, not necessarily dream job, but at least I was being exposed to other people (and potential new friends), and I was getting bylines on such a big entertainment site. Again, not a dream (yet), but I was definitely content, even though it required me coming in at 6 a.m. every day.
Four months into my job, the assistant for one of the columnists moved away and the columnist was looking for a replacement. He sent out a company-wide email asking for recommendations. I looked at the girl who sat in front of me and asked if I should apply. The job involved going to celebrity events every week and interviewing people and writing up stories based on those interviews. Basically a writer-reporter position doubling as an administrative assistant. The coworker encouraged me to apply—why not, right? So, I did. And guess what? I got the job!
Landing this job was literally the most exciting, life-changing thing that's ever happened to me (probably to this very day!). Words can't express my thrill, and naturally, it only makes sense that I wanted to share the joy with my "best friend."
I immediately texted her that I was being sent to cover my first red carpet and that I was overwhelmed with excitement and nerves. She gave me a minor "oh, cool" type of response, and quickly changed the topic to make it about her. I thought it was odd, but I had too much else to think about, so I went on with my day.
As the weeks proceeded and I got busier, she continued to talk down to me. One on occasion, I told her that I had these energy drinks sent to me for free by a publicist and she muttered, "oh, you just now have these connections." Seriously?
But as our friendship continued to suffer, my confidence began to grow. I was going to events people only dream about, I was making so many new friends (and they were good friends at that). Life was finally taking off, and I planned to bring Michelle along for the ride. After all, as toxic as we were together, I truly couldn't imagine life without her. It would be impossible to just cut her out entirely.
And then the fateful moment occurred…
It was Michelle's birthday week, and she was throwing herself a party on that Saturday, which was also a farewell-to-L.A. fete, as she decided to move to Arizona and live with her dad. At this point, I realized this was the best decision for her, given that she was growing very sick of this city and all the friend drama that always seemed to accompany her. I, meanwhile, was loving life.
On the Tuesday of her birthday week, I was having an incredibly busy day at the office. She kept texting me, asking for advice on what she should wear for her big day, and was nagging me for prompt responses. I straight up told her I'm on my period and I'm super busy, so I would respond later. She didn't take that too well. When I finally got home from work, I went straight to my bed because I was in so much discomfort. She sent me a follow-up text asking why I haven't responded. I reiterated what I told her earlier in the day.
The next moment changed things forever.
In response to how busy I was that day, she replied, "Busy getting paid to go to concerts?"
That was it for me. How dare this girl talk down about my career? She just couldn't handle that I actually had a life that didn't revolve around her! Finally I had my own "cool" thing going on and I was not about to let some bitter brat bring me down. That's when I responded, "Have a happy birthday, a safe trip to Arizona and a nice life."
And I never looked back.
She definitely reached out to me on occasion, but removing her from my life was the best decision I ever made. I absolutely wish her all the best, as she was indeed someone so close to me for so long—but I've never once missed her or looked back fondly on a memory we shared. My life went on perfectly fine without her and I never thought I could get to that point. But it's like the wise saying goes: "You stop attracting certain people when you heal the part of you that once needed them."
I finally reached a point in my life where I was so above the toxic behavior. I was happy and fulfilled, and quite frankly, I outgrew our dynamics.
It's been about seven years since I've seen Michelle, and boy have they been good ones.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy
Michelle was an obviously toxic friend, but frenemies can come in forms of all kinds. Find out the different types HERE.