One hot and muggy August, I fully enabled a knock-down-drag-out fight with a person whose ‘friendship,’ I felt, had dragged out much longer than it should have (it shouldn’t have extended past some bad, crescendo-reaching karaoke that took place shortly after I had met her a year-and-a-half earlier).
I’ll call her Maude. I can definitively say I’ve since lost my ability to get the chills when I hear Whitney Houston belt out the climax to her cover of I Will Always Love You. Anybody who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s will understand: the part from Houston’s music video where, clad like Olivia Pope in a white pantsuit, she sits posture-perfect in a chair and goes for that high note, nailing it bang-on.
It was the song that secured Ms. Houston her goddess-like stature in the music industry, years ahead of Celine Dion crooning about her heart going on. When Maude tried to replicate the hit in the handful of grubby clubs we used to circuit Sunday nights, the result was astonishing. Astonishingly awful.
I’ve since lost my ability to get the chills when I hear Whitney Houston belt out the climax to her cover of I Will Always Love You.
The funny thing was that up until that failed apex, she wasn’t too bad. That’s likely why she was cheered off the platform with whistles and hoots, mainly from men. Plus there’s the fact Maude was a brunette beauty with sparkling mocha eyes and heart-shaped plump lips, that didn’t require any Kardashian injections. After her struggle with the Treble Clef, the audience no doubt had felt sorry for her—she had clearly given it her level best, with all the verve and passion of an American Idol contestant (the blind auditions part).
Karaoke audiences always made Maude feel like she, too, was a star, minus the white pantsuit (she only wore dresses and leggings, even during hot summer nights). Sadly, I and all our friends knew that wasn’t the case. But it was karaoke; you were supposed to sound lame. It would just have been easier on everybody if she had more than two songs in her repertoire. The other was Ace of Base’s I Saw the Sign. Nobody had the heart to suggest she mix it up.
Anybody who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s will understand: the part from Houston’s music video where, clad like Olivia Pope in a white pantsuit, she sits posture-perfect in a chair and goes for that high note, nailing it bang-on.
At one time, I thought Maude and I were soul sisters in the making, but as it turned out there were more stormy days than sunshine. My creativity was stifled, she stole a dozen rolls of toilet paper when cat sitting for me one weekend, and she banged my boyfriend with benefits. So, finally, that August, after witnessing too many highs and lows of the Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction kind—who also wore a white pantsuit when she horrifyingly exclaims to Michael Douglas: “I won’t be ignored”— I decided to give Maude the old heave-ho (accent on the ho).
No Real Housewives drama here. No table flipping or hair pulling. Just a timely smartphone delete and a Facebook blocking. And, that was the end of that. Maybe it wasn’t as cathartic as the bitchy, name-slinging, tire-screeching with fire-out-of-the-tailpipe, bad-boyfriend-blow-off variety. But I do know that taking the quiet high road was the mature and right thing to do.
Later, however, this all lead me to much pondering and the final question: why, all too often, are girl-to-girl breakups considered so hiss-worthy and heinous? Why is it that when women cut the cords on their gal pals, many think that: a) we must be in a PMS rage, or b) we’re naturally edgy and unstable?
Yet, when we finally get the gumption to kick our past-the-expiry-date male lovers to the curb, we suddenly become ‘take-charge,’ ‘strong and empowered’ —the I always knew she had it in her kind of a woman?
Why, all too often, are girl-to-girl breakups considered so hiss-worthy and heinous? Why is it that when women cut the cords on their gal pals, many think that: a) we must be in a PMS rage; or b) we’re naturally edgy and unstable?
I feel it’s a social double standard of the Millennium. There have been various news articles through the decade, trying to explain the trope of the Bestie Breakup. Just this past month, the Postmedia Network published a piece by Simone Paget, entitled How to survive a friend break-up. The author, now in her thirties, hearkens back to her twenties where she experienced her “first real adult friend-breakup”—the circumstances, she explains, attributed to “boys, booze and my overall immature behaviour.”
Granted, Paget admits she has since reconciled with her friends and even feels “guilt and embarrassment,” and is actually “haunted” by friend terminations of the past. Paget writes: “In my experience, the sting of breaking up with a close girlfriend often burns longer and more acutely than the end of many romantic relationships.”
I find Paget’s sentiments very raw and respectful. And I can see how that would be the case, when I imagine a different kind of a final falling out between myself and other particular female friendships I share. It’s just that in my experience with Maude, the aftermath held no actual ‘sting’ for me; it was more akin to that feeling of relief you get when you put Calamine lotion on a poison ivy itch.
In a Huffington Post blog from 2015, self-love coach and writer Jennifer Twardowski lists the “6 Signs It May Be Time to Break Up With Your Friend.” Twardowski points to the fact that our friendships reflect who we are as people and, that at some point along our life journeys, we may come to the conclusion, or an a-ha moment, when we realize something is no longer adding value to our lives. That something might be a friendship that’s reached the distance; it has simply chugged out.
“As a result,” Twardowski writes, “we may find ourselves needing to let friends go … It may involve creating some distance to give ourselves space to grow or it may involve needing to set boundaries for ourselves and “breaking up” with that friend. Either way, both are a natural aspect to our growth.”
In looking back at my former friendship with Maude, I feel that any type of friendship can run its course and, depending on how egregious the circumstances, sometimes a slick and detoxifying spray-down à la “Sayonara Biotch!” is the only cure on-tap, no matter how seemingly Wind Beneath My Wings-tight the bond may once have been.
Sad, perhaps. But so is life, sometimes.
We may find ourselves needing to let friends go … It may involve creating some distance to give ourselves space to grow or it may involve needing to set boundaries for ourselves and “breaking up” with that friend. Either way, both are a natural aspect to our growth. ~Jennifer Twardowski, Self-love coach, teacher and writer, and founder of JenniferTwardowski.com
Like those potential baby names I and my girlfriends bandied about as twenty-somethings, cooing over the way the first and middle names chimed: ‘Gemma Rose;’ ‘Violet Madison;’ ‘Chloe Victoria.’ Until later down the road, we meet a person with said first name who makes our skin slither. Somehow the name, just like a forsaken friend, can lose its charm. And so we settle for another combination of back-in-style Grandmother names, and never look back.
Needless to say, I felt no prickle of guilt over my Maude exit act.