I have been besties with my bestie since our first day of college. We weathered awful roommates, harsh professors, and bad relationships together. We danced together at the weddings of mutual friends, lamented explosive breakups over bottles of vodka, and supported one another through some pretty rough times. She was one of the first people I asked to be a bridesmaid, and I couldn’t imagine getting married without her there.
However, as time has gone on, and the wedding has drawn closer and closer, several really harsh truths have come to light about my friendship with my leading lady. Namely, that it’s changed.
While I used to accept my best friend’s harsh criticisms and extreme negativity, I slowly awoke to this gnawing sense that I no longer enjoyed our conversations. No matter what the topic of conversation — the weather, school, the election, mutual friends — it all devolved into a hate-fueled, depressing monologue. I started avoiding her, and then — when I was unable to avoid her and we spent time together — I found myself making any excuse I could to escape her company.
I hated myself for it. This was my best friend, and good friends are always there for each other. Right?
At first, I tried to be positive for her, and offer suggestions on how to change her situation. She got enthusiastic about every solution, agreeing that she needed to do something, only to never follow through. So I found that I was unable to keep up a positive attitude for long — I was emotionally drained and exhausted after every coffee date. I tried to minimize contact with her, but I wanted her to be in the wedding. Again, this is a fairly important day, and I wanted her to be there.
After a while, though, I knew I couldn’t really continue this way and feel good about it. Even then, I was extremely conflicted. The last thing I want to do is be a self-centered, self-important princess about my wedding, and kicking someone out of the wedding party feels like the height of selfishness. “Firing” a bridesmaid feels like the stuff that “bridezillas” are made of.
Plus, asking my friend not to be in the wedding also meant possibly losing her forever. And despite her negativity, my best friend still means a lot to me. I don’t want to toss her aside when she is obviously so unhappy, but I can’t relax and enjoy this wonderful, happy time in my own life when every conversation with her leaves me feeling guilty and drained.
Finally, I sat down and I wrote my friend a letter.
I reminded her of all the wonderful times we had shared in college, and told her I would always be grateful for those times. I told her that recently, talking to her and being there for her had been very hard, because I felt like we had fallen into this pattern of me always reassuring her that she is pretty and of value, and not being able to express my own anxieties and feelings without the focus of the conversation being turned back around onto herself.
I told her that I loved her dearly, and I wanted so badly for her to feel better about herself, but that I felt like by continuing in this pattern that I was enabling her.
I reminded her that as the wedding got closer, the stress and expenses would increase, and I felt like releasing her from her duties would be the best thing for both of us.
I told her she would be listed with the bridesmaids in the program as an honorary bridesmaid. That she was of course invited to the bachelorette party, and to the pre-wedding festivities. But that this way she wouldn’t have to worry about buying a dress, or showing up early to the ceremony, or being in photos.
I told her that I love her and I think that she is entirely capable of fixing her situation. That maybe speaking to a therapist might be a good solution for her.
I told her that she means the world to me, and that I hope that no matter what, we’ll always be best friends, and that even if our friendship is never what it once was, that it can someday be really good again.
Her reaction was like a face full of angry bees, and then she went silent. I haven’t heard from her in weeks.
It was hard, and I am sad. But in the end, kicking my best friend out of the wedding was the best thing to do for myself and the others in the wedding party. In fact, telling my best friend the truth about how marginalized and used I felt was good for me anyway, regardless of all this wedding drama.
Things change, people change, and gently letting go of a relationship that isn’t very good for you can allow space in your life for other people to come in and be wonderful. My bestie will always have a space in my heart and in my life, but my wedding will go on, whether she’s attending, or not. And while I might feel like I am a terrible friend at the moment, I know I’m just a human being, doing the best I can, and not martyring myself for the detriment of everyone.