Self

My Best Friend Reappeared After Ghosting Me For Years

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Last year, I received a message on my Facebook that made me anxious. It was my ex-best friend, *Valerie — someone I had known nearly two decades ago in college but never wanted to see again.

Her chirpy message suggesting we meet up left me with dread. “Hey, I’m thinking of going to Chiang Mai,” she wrote, “love to see you.” My first reaction was a clenched throat.

Then my stomach fluttered. My heart beat faster. Years of repressed emotions welled up in my eyes. As I blinked, they fell on my keyboard like an IV drip.

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The friendship that was meant to last forever

Movies depict women's friendships as an unbreakable sacred sisterhood, like in Thelma and Louise, where two best friends escape their mundane life in pursuit of adventure only to drive off the Grand Canyon.

Before that grand finale, Thelma had shot a man to death for raping her, and the police were after her. Louise could have easily ratted on her to save herself, but she sticks by her friend.

Like Thelma and Louise, we were supposed to stand the test of time. Although our friendship didn’t end so dramatically, the problem hadn’t been resolved, at least from my end.

I had moved to San Francisco after college, and Valerie had remained in Hawaii. Throughout college, we had been each other’s bandaid. When my ex broke up with me through his friend, she let me vent as my snot ruined her shirt.

When Valerie had a scooter accident, I nursed her until she could walk. I met my then-husband through her. Even though we kept in touch, I hadn’t seen her in a few years. I missed her.

I proposed to visit her in Hawaii with two of my friends from work. Valerie kindly offered us her boyfriend's empty apartment.

The problem started at the airport. I couldn’t contain my excitement at seeing her, and I ran to hug her. In return, I got a stiff body and a pat on my back.

She was cold on the car ride to the apartment, like ice cold. When my friends tried to make small talk, she responded with a word or two.

When we arrived at the apartment, I took her aside to ask if something was wrong. She said no. I told her we didn’t need to stay here if that’s what was bugging her. She said we could.

But it was apparent something wasn’t right. My friends commented on it, too, wondering if we argued. I asked her if she was upset with me. Again, a flat no.

The next day, I called her to no avail. We soaked in the sun for the next few days, surfed, and partied without Valerie. I called her numerous times and left a message. No dice.

When it came time to leave, we left a few hundred dollars in the apartment as a thank-you. I tried in vain to call her again. Nada.

I was baffled. I had no idea why she was ghosting me. After I arrived back in California, I emailed her several times. She responded, at last, but the message was brief.

It was devastating. My efforts to heal the relationship after I returned weren’t working either. My only choice was to let go, and I did. Then a decade later, she messaged me.

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To let it go or not to let it go, is the question

Although we hadn’t talked to each other in a long time, I was curious whether we could rekindle our relationship. Besides, we weren’t in college anymore.

We were now in our 40s with years of life-altering moments under our belt — I divorced, moved to Nepal, my mom died, my dad died, I moved to Myanmar, met my now husband, moved to Germany, married, and had a son.

All these events changed me.

Had she changed too? Should I bring up the past? Should I let it go and start anew?

After contemplating, I decided to bring up the past to let go of old baggage. I needed to if we wanted to be friends. I messaged her on Facebook:

Hey Valerie, it’s nice to hear from you. I’m surprised you messaged. I do want to meet you, but I’m still upset about the last time we met, and I need to talk to you about it.

The last time I talked to you was when I visited you in Hawaii with my friends. I was sad that we didn’t hang out. I tried to call you many times, but I didn't get your response.

I left Hawaii with a heavy heart. We haven’t talked to each other in over a decade now. It’s sad that so much time has passed without any contact. What happened then?

She said she didn’t remember what I was talking about. Going to Chiang Mai had been her dream, and when she found out I was there, she thought we could meet.

I messaged back, telling her that event changed our friendship. We were so close. I told her I didn’t understand why she hadn’t kept in touch for 13 years. Didn’t she get my messages?

She said that life’s too short to hold on to the past. She wanted to meet me but understood if I didn’t want to.

My heart sank. Did she not remember the event that forever altered our friendship? Did she remember but didn’t want to talk about it?

She continued by saying that things happen. Her good friend had recently died of cancer, which was tough for her. And traveling solo around the world was her therapy.

She’s been through hell and back, adding that surrounding herself with positive energy was paramount for her, and she didn’t need any negativity in her life.

I guess I was the negative energy she didn’t need. I felt she wasn’t considering my feelings, but she expected me to consider hers. With that, I told her it would be best if we didn’t meet.

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Did I do the right thing?

Was I making a big fuss? Should I have brought it up when we met face-to-face instead?

What I know is Valerie has been living it up for the past few years. Her Facebook page is full of her worldly adventures.

She trekked Everest base camp, scuba dove off the Great Barrier Reef, backed packed solo throughout Central America and Africa, discovered underground river caves, camped on a dormant volcano in Guatemala, meditated in Myanmar, and much more.

It wasn’t surprising. Valerie had always been the type to take risks.

Did I make a big mistake? She did say she was going through a lot. Should I have been the bigger person and let her back in?

Then three months ago, she posted a message about motherhood on her Facebook. It looks like she’s now an older mom, like me.

Maybe I should have let bygones be bygones. Perhaps then we’ll still be friends.

I had to test the water.

A few days ago, I messaged her privately with a picture of my son and our family. She saw the message but didn’t respond.

I’m still waiting.

*Name changed for privacy

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June Kirri is a writer on culture, parenting, and mental health. 

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.