7 min read

Ghost From the Past

A friend of mine recently posted on her status update the following:

There are some life events that can turn your world upside, but eventually they are put behind us. So why is it that just the smallest reminder can make everything feel just as bad as it did then?

I had been having the same thoughts.  So true to form I'm writing about my experience because it keeps nagging at me.  I've been avoiding this post since I started blogging. But if you've known me for any length of time or have worked with me, then you probably already know this story. But here I go because it just won't leave me alone! (By the way it's a long one. You might want to make yourself a snack to read this one).

When I worked at my last school assignment I had met another teacher and we became fast friends.  We were not only colleagues but friends outside of school, too. A bonus was that our husbands got along really well. It's nice to go out with friends when the Hubbies get along.  We were also on the same track...had the same work ethic (ie worked really, really late and were the last ones out the door most nights), became a part of leadership team, were champions for our students, and worked really, really hard to be the best teachers we could be. We were very much the type-A teachers. But even though we were similar in our work ethic, we still had our own personalities. We worked with our colleagues differently. I tried to put a more positive spin on certain situations (though I did find out from another friend and colleague who knew us well that I had started to become a negative nellie). I loved where I worked and I loved my colleagues and her? She didn't have the same feelings. But we still got along and we worked well together.  She was even there for the birth of my first-born. Yeah.....

Things went really well for a while, but then one summer she became angry with me and stopped talking to me. I found out the hard way when we were supposed to buy a gift together for a friend's baby shower and carpool to the shower. After going ahead and buying the gift and waiting around to carpool and many calls later, I arrived at the shower only to find that she was already there and had bought her own gift (Clue #1).  At the time I just figured she was having a bad day and we'd get down to the bottom of it after the shower. During the shower I got up to go to the bathroom and asked if she would hold my 4-month old son who she always loved to hold and snuggle. As soon as I came back from the bathroom she shoved him at me and said, "Here." (okay, Clue #2.). I was so incredibly hurt and had vowed to myself that she would never be allowed to hold my son again...and she didn't.  After the shower we drove back to my house and worked on a project that we promised we would do.  She was rude to my husband, my son, and to me.  I finally got down to the bottom of the issue: She had asked me earlier in the year to put in a good word for her and to have her assigned the same project I was assigned over the Summer. I had reservations about it and stuck my neck out and did it.  She was accepted and then at the last minute she told me she couldn't do it because of an overloaded work schedule.  I felt like a moron for having recommended her and made her stick to the project. I wouldn't let her back out and she was angry.  She also wanted me to send the e-mail bailing for her and I refused to do it.  So we finished our assignment and there were a lot of hurt feelings on both sides. We mended our ways, but our friendship was a little worse for wear.

Clue #3--They were running out of space in our building and had given up my room for a 1st period class. At the last minute they assigned me a class for 1st period and found out we had run out of rooms. I suggested putting me in my friend's room. I had a small class and she wasn't teaching 1st period.  She wasn't pleased with the idea and kept saying she had never shared a room and didn't really want to. But it was a done deal and I taught 1st period in her room.  Things went well. I didn't care that she was in and out of her room while I taught. I could roll with it and so could the kids. However, I did ask at one point if she wouldn't do it during our 15 minute DEAR (drop everything and read) time.  It was a schoolwide initiative to encourage our students to read and I had asked all staff to model the same behavior. Having her in and out of the room at that time made it hard for my reluctant readers to focus. I asked nicely if she refrain from coming in at that time, but any other time would be fine. She stopped speaking to me again and thought I was ridiculous.  We again got over this hurdle and patched things up.

Clue #4--She stopped speaking to me on her birthday a few years ago. This one I had no idea why.  After I brought gifts and a card and left them in her room I found out she wasn't speaking to me.  To this day I still don't know why.  I called and e-mailed several times and tried to speak to her in person. I never got an answer and I was left with very hurt feelings. Weeks went by and she never spoke to me either in person or via phone or e-mail.  It made sharing a room awkward especially when I would leave her room and she would slam it shut behind me.  I struggled by and was deeply hurt. At the time no one on staff knew about the rift except for another teacher who knew us well and tried to help us on either side. At which point this very dear friend told me to just let it go and that I'll probably never know what happened.

Unfortunately, at the end of that same year she became a substitute administrator in the building. She called me into her new office and told me she didn't want to be friends again and didn't want to talk about it. So I got the final answer with no resolution.  It didn't make me feel any better and the following year was worse when she became a permanent administrator and the continued to make my life a living hell with write-ups, referrals to the principal, and constant complaints of non-compliance...none of which were valid.  The one positive is that before that final year finally got rolling I had made a clear headed decision to stay home with my son.  So fortunately my decision to be a full-time Stay at Home Mommy is not and will not be tainted with the nastiness from my final year in the work-force. It was not a decision in haste and it was not made because of circumstances. My decision was made with a real desire to be a full-time SAHM and spend as much time as I could with my little one.

So you would think that now that I'm no longer working with her and have no cause to see her that the situation was done. Over. Boy am I wrong. So why am I writing about this now if it's over?  Because in the last week two people who had no idea what went down brought her up to me.  I kid you not.  They aren't the only ones. Just this Summer a former colleague I saw at a luncheon brought her up to me knowing the history between us said, "She's changed. She's much better. She's in a better place." What was I supposed to say? She was a complete bizatch to me and I don't believe she's changed?  Great, I'm happy for her that she's found happiness? How about silence, because she will never believe that she treated me so poorly and that she was only doing her job.

I let it go, but it nagged at me.  And then this week at a dinner with several people, one woman who I've been acquainted with for several years but never had a real conversation with asked me if I had worked at my previous school. I said yes, and then she starts to talk to me about their new administrator at her building...who just happened to be this former friend. Of course this woman didn't know there was a history and was chatting away. I held my tongue and groaned inwardly. Can't I get away from this?  When I thought it couldn't possibly happen again, when I went to my first MOPs meeting another newbie confirmed my name and asked if I had worked at my previous school.  This can't be happening again...I confirmed it and she identified herself. It turns out that we worked in the same building for a brief period of time.  I did finally recognize her. She of course brought up the other woman and said, "Weren't you really good friends with her?" To which I let out a strangled, "We don't speak anymore."  She just looked at me knowingly and thankfully didn't pursue the situation.

So now that I've written this and have finally gotten it out on digital paper, I'm left with...why can't this be over? Every time it comes up I feel like I've gotten a slap in the face.  I know that it still stings because while  there was a resolution...that being an ended friendship, I still don't know what happened to end it. At this point if I heard the reason, I probably wouldn't be satisfied because it's festered for so long.  I keep thinking that with time, it will be gone...but every time it's brought up it's like a wound reopened.  But in reality, it was good that the friendship ended. I was tired of walking on eggshells and feeling bullied.  I was tired of the constant criticism and the constant negativity which was bringing me down.  I was tired of the "look, see, I'm better than you," coming from her when I just didn't care and the derision on her face when I decided to start leaving work earlier than 6pm so that I could see my beloved little man. I had found a new identity and calling, "MOM" and I was reveling in the challenges and joys of new motherhood.

With that being said I just want this ghost from the past to disappear.  I'd also like an answer to the question that my friend posed:

There are some life events that can turn your world upside, but eventually they are put behind us. So why is it that just the smallest reminder can make everything feel just as bad as it did then?

But most of all, I'd just like the ghost of this past friendship to be gone...