I would consider myself to be a pretty good and reliable friend. I guess that’s why one of my best friends, Amanda (obviously, her actual name isn’t Amanda), felt so comfortable opening up to me about her recent choices. Me and Amanda have been really close friends for 3 years. We clicked at the beginning of high school. We were both two small Asian girls stuck in the same math class, who loved talking about boys and Pretty Little Liars, quite contrary to some of the other girls in our program. And now, like I said earlier, she’s one of my best friends. I’ll edit her English essays at 3 AM and be her #1 supporter when it comes to her capricious crushes. And although I had my doubts at first, she grew on me, and I would say I love her a lot. But loving someone doesn’t mean you have to love everything they do.
I’ve always known that Amanda was kinda… shady. Shady in that she would whisper about her closest friends behind their backs, or change her stories to her convenience. But it didn’t really matter to me, because when it came down to just me and her, she was always 100% truthful. People will always tell you that honesty is the key to a healthy relationship with anyone, and I stand by that statement completely. Because in me and Amanda’s relationship her being so honest with me showed how much she trusted me and how much she respected my opinion. And in turn, I would listen to her problems with an open mind and offer encouragement and advice that I see fit. And vice versa. I’d tell her my secrets and stories and she would respond accordingly. I felt like we had a lot of chemistry. Because when we didn’t feel like talking we didn’t have to, and when we did want to socialize, there was never a pause in our conversation.
Now that paragraph was in past tense. Because recently, I feel like that whole naked truth thing we had going on has been broken. It started a few months ago, when Amanda attended a few parties. I’m not much of a “partier” myself, but I have absolutely no issue with those who are. We all have fun in different ways. Anyways, Amanda would ask me whether I thought she should go, and, like I said, not my cup of tea, but no issue with those who enjoy it. Also, I could really tell that she really, really wanted to go. So I told her just that. “I can tell you really want to go, so you should!” I knew Amanda was smart and reasonable. I knew that she would always be responsible and safe.
Over the next few weeks, things changed. Amanda attended a few more parties, and afterwards she would report back to me, and the two of us would gossip about the juicy happenings she had witnessed. That’s right, we definitely weren’t the “same” anymore, but we still made it work.
Up until a few days ago. Amanda told me about some of her “bad” choices. I put the quotations because she prefaced her story with “I need to tell you something bad.” Bad and good are obviously very subjective adjectives, and I’ll refrain from my opinion on the whole thing. Instead, I’ll use Amanda’s own words.
“What is it?” I typed back.
Amanda is known for being slightly over dramatic. I swear, she uses the phrase “I’M DYING” at least 5 times, every conversation, to convey emotions from laughing to crying. I figured “bad” meant she didn’t behave appropriately in front of a cute boy, or her parents had asked about her grades. It’s never something actually horrible – at least, not on my terms. But even if she did rob a bank or start a violent cat fight (things I consider to be “horrible”) I would still try to be open. I’d try to understand why she would do that, and together, the two of us would figure out a solution. She knows that. She knows that that’s how we roll.
“Don’t judge me, but…”
Amanda always begins her confessions with those words. It annoys me, because that phrase is nothing but a safety net. If no judgement is made, then that’s fine. The conversation can move along. But in case the listener does judge and does find the following remarks to be weird or gross or horrible, the speaker has already acknowledged that it is weird and gross and horrible. And the conversation can continue.
I realize that Amanda needs me to approve of her. I don’t think this is a bad thing. In fact, in a friendship, that’s the way it should be. Because with that support comes a mutual respect. But the approval Amanda seeks, I feel, is a little different. She wants me to support the decisions she considers to be bad, but fun, so that she doesn’t have to feel guilty. She wants me to make the final decision, the hard decision, so that she doesn’t have to. She wants me to back whatever choices she makes so that if a time comes that someone does call her out, whether it be her parents or some friend, she can turn to me, either for support or to blame. I am her safety net.
I have confronted her (ish) about it. I didn’t want to bring up an entire history, so I waited for her to do it again. And sure enough she did.
“I need to tell you something bad.”
“Don’t judge me, but…”
She normally sends paragraphs on paragraphs on paragraphs about all the “horrible things” she did and all the “mistakes” that had happened, but today she had conveniently numbered them for me. I scrolled and scrolled, reading line after line, feeling a sense of déjà vu.
I confronted her (ish) about her drinking – it was the common variable among all of her stories. I told her that if she would repeatedly complain and freak out about issues she had created, the obvious solution would be to figure out and stop the root of the problem. But she immediately turned defensive. It was a side of her that I had never been faced with, because we would be on the same side and I would be defending her as well. So I was quite taken aback.
Her defense turned to offense. She attacked me. “I thought you knew I drank. You know I go to parties.”
This was true. I did know, and in fact, she had confessed to me about her behavior with the very same tagline, “don’t judge me” and I had basically condoned it. But that was not the issue. The issue was that aftermatch of the alcohol caused her to whine and complain and freak out about things that could have easily been avoided.
Anyways, while I was thinking about how to respond, Amanda changed the subject. We haven’t revisited that topic since. Senior year is approaching fast, and I’m sure it will fly by. We will all disperse and conquer different areas. Some of us will never speak again. Some of us will be each other’s bridesmaids. Amanda and I only have a year left to decide which option we will choose, and ignoring the giant elephant isn’t helping us at all. I’ll let you know what happens.