Guest Post: Lisa of A Gal’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage, on Broken Friendships

Lisa lead
photo credit: May the 4th be with you via photopin (license)

Charlotte’s words – not mine – brought Lisa Thomson to my blog.

guest postCharlotte writes My Pixie Blog, on “Love, Life, and Lessons Learned.” She’d written a guest post for me on shifts in relationships. It came along with impeccable timing for me. It also gained the attention of one of the most purposeful bloggers I’ve ever read.

Lisa writes a blog some of you might have visited: Lisa Thomson Live: A Gal’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage.

What’s a guy doing over at a blog like that, you ask?

Lisa’s words, much like Charlotte’s, come through with a poignancy that even a man can appreciate. Lisa’s words guide. They aid. They lend understanding. She’s featured on the Huffington Post. Naturally, the next step is Coach Daddy.

I’m just getting to know Lisa, but know her story well.

You know the friend who won’t give you stock advice back so that the conversation can swing back to her? That’s Lisa. Know the one who’s been there, done that, and brings a knack for presenting it all just the way you understand it? Lisa, too.

Please give her a warm CD welcome as she discusses a breakup – with a best friend. And be sure to check out Lisa Thomson Live, too.

photo credit: matters of the heart via photopin (license)

When You’re Never Ever Getting Back Together, With Your Best Friend

By Lisa Thomson

Maya Angelou said, “Believe who people are when they show you the first time.”

I recently was looking through my storage boxes for some paperwork. What I found there were multiple letters from a former friend. When I moved to a different city, she was determined (as was I) to maintain our close connection. Reading these letters now, made me feel like a voyeur in a stranger’s life.

These letters were full of very personal confessions about love, children, her spouse…it seemed an invasion of privacy to keep these since we had parted ways in the last three years. Also, in re-reading them, I noticed how intimate her writings were.  In spite of the novelty of a handwritten letter, I had to make a decision.

Shredding her letters was a way to protect my former friend’s privacy.

I got to wondering, were my letters to her equally confessional and intimate? Nonetheless, it felt like the compassionate thing to do when I ran the letters through the shredder before discarding them. It was a way to protect her privacy.  These letters didn’t belong to me anymore. After all, we were never ever getting back together.

I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what makes some friendships last a lifetime while others fizzle out and in some cases, fizzle back in. That was the case with this friend. We met when our first born babies were almost a year old. I treasured her friendship as she was one of the few who also had a baby the same age and was navigating new motherhood at the same time as me.

Back then, our friendship sparked and became very intimate quickly. I didn’t think twice about it at the time since I am usually very open and quick to bond with people. At that age, I hadn’t the inner telepathy to see warning signs. Now I understand there are certain personality types who bond fast but can also discard without regret. I can only guess that the bonding stage of a friendship fills a need for those types but after a period of time, sadly, it does not.

She chose a new and different life

Our friendship then lasted about five years, at which point she left her marriage. Although I reached out, the message was clear: She was moving on and not interested in taking me with her.  She chose to start a new and different life with new and different people. I didn’t understand her decision at the time. She left a void in my life larger than she ever knew.

It would be more than 10 years later when I would run into my old friend, randomly at a farmer’s market one Saturday. She was beaming with happiness. She was in a new relationship and in love. I on the other hand, was freshly separated and living on my own for the first time in more than 20 years.

We reconnected and it proved to be as quick and intimate as the first time. Only now, our first born babies were 15 years old and we shared the bond of divorce.

Again, I found myself gradually excluded from her life.

She asked me to be her maid of honor at her second wedding a couple of years later. One year after her wedding, I re-located to my hometown but our friendship was still strong hence, the letter writing.

Her life subsequently went through many changes in the next five years, and, again, I found myself gradually excluded from her life. As her second marriage was unraveling, my phone calls, texts and emails went unanswered. Like the first time, there wasn’t a definitive conclusion. She got me again.

The last I heard from her, she texted me and wanted to talk. I waited by the phone. I know that sounds so 80’s. She NEVER called. That was the last time I was going to let that happen.  It doesn’t take more than a minute for old wounds to open. Her rejection and not valuing me as her friend were a repeated pattern. I didn’t want to tolerate it the second time around.

My ex-friend, in a coffee shop

A few months ago, I was back in my old city, visiting with my grown children. As I sat at a downtown café waiting for my daughter, in walked a woman with a familiar face. I took a second glance and tried not to get caught staring at her while she stood in line to order her coffee. Could it be? OMG.  It is!

It was my ex-friend. She walked right past me, like I was a ghost. She had changed her look drastically. So much so, that I initially had some doubt it was her until she walked past me again and I saw the definitive scar on her cheek.  She could change her hairstyle and color by she couldn’t alter her body type or  face.  I let her walk past me without a word. It was clear she had seen me and chose to ignore my presence.

This brief collision of my past and present caught me off guard. I thought back to those intimate letters, to her wedding day, to how much we confided in one another while navigating divorce and new relationships. How did we go from best friends to complete strangers? How do we share secrets and then walk past one another feigning indifference? It’s one of the puzzles of human relationships.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice …

I’m wondering are we women, just too complicated for our own friendships? Do we make more of our friendships than we should and finally, how many times do we let someone treat us like we don’t matter?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Indeed, shame on me.That’s why we’re never, ever getting back together.

Will you share your experience in losing a close friend? Are women too complicated for their own friendships?

lisa quote


  1. Lyn says:

    Some friends come and go depending on your life situation–a bit like you and your friend, Lisa. I’ve been blessed to have had one particular friend for forty years. We were born in different countries and had different upbringings but that never made any difference. Something clicked when we met, and we’ve been clicking ever since 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s a chemistry and science that defies explanation, Lyn – but isn’t it beautiful?

    2. Hi Lyn, I love to hear stories like that! Your friendship sounds ideal. 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Lyn would be a good friend to have, Lisa.

  2. 1jaded1 says:

    I am sorry for your loss. As someone who has experienced two traumatic betrayals at an early age, my trust meter is broken. I don’t let people in quickly, and when I do, my guard is usually down. I don’t know if complicated can be described to a gender. Men are plenty dramatic and complicated too (don’t argue, Eli). You basically answered your own question. There are people who bond quickly and discard just as fast. It is who they are. They evaluate how or if you will serve a purpose in their lives. When that purpose is no longer served, the “friendship” is over. They can claim to be too busy but then you see them in circles they are not too busy for. It just means they are too busy for you. Your ex friend was cold in your last non encounter. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she may have been embarrassed, but probably not. Apologies if this sounds harsh. I sincerely hope you find or have found peace. LJ.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There’s a code in coaching, at any level, that we talk about/deal with only what we have, in terms of players, skill, facilities, etc. If a star player leaves, we concern ourselves only with the players who remain.

      It’s this way with friendships and other relationships, too. I’d rather appreciate those who are still with me and still present than pine over those who’ve chosen to go.

      1. 1jaded1 says:

        I agree about not pining and am glad that Lisa is letting go. What pinches the nerve is how Lisa was important enough to be maid of honor (not the occasional movie friend) at ex’s wedding but obviously ignorable at the coffee shop. That was just, for the lack of a better term, rude.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        It’s hard to know why people we love do the things they do after they stop loving us.

      3. 1jaded1 says:

        It is. I had a snarky reply, not to you, but the situation, but it stifled in my throat. I’m glad you featured Lisa.

    2. I agree with you 1Jaded1, and thanks for putting some perspective on the male friendship 🙂 I’m sorry you’ve been betrayed at such a young age. I think you’re wise to not let people in quickly but so long as you still let the right ones in.

      The second rejection wasn’t as bad as the first one and I have certainly let the pain go. She’ll have a place in my past but I accept that we don’t have a future. I love that Maya Angelou quote because it really hits home. When people betray us once and we forgive them and it happens again? Buh-Bye!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        If ever I say good-bye for good, I’ll always wonder if this tie would have been different.

      2. 1jaded1 says:

        I’m happy you are healing. 🙂

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        Healing and teaching.

  3. I think we have all had our fair share of friendships gone south, at least I know I did especially in my younger years during times of change, such as graduating high school or college. But you are right, while seeing that person after a period of time can be strange, it sometimes is just inevitable no matter what we do. Still, we must learn and grow from those failed friendships and do our best to just move one.

    1. Hi janine, great point “We must learn and grown from those failed friendships…” So true!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Sometimes the lesson is to go in and love unabashedly anyway.

  4. Kisma says:

    Oh, I can relate to every.single.word in this beautiful post!

    Thank you for sharing such a touching and emotional experience!

    I learned early on when life throws curve balls, you find out who your real friends really are. I’m happy to say I have one girl that while I don’t see as often as I’d like, we are always there for each other when needed.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The lyrics to the song “Stand by Me” will always serve as my litmus test for relationships, Tiff.

    2. Thank you, Kisma! I’m happy to hear you have the one true friend. They are the ones that are ‘there’ no matter what. We may not see them often but we can rely on them and likewise, they can rely on us.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        They kind of carry you when you can’t walk on your own.

  5. Your story gave me chills because many things about your friend are just like a former friend of mine, right down to the relationship lasting about five years and being dumped cold. I finally figured out that in the case of my former friend, she has a personality disorder. BPD, I think. As incredibly intimate as our friendship was, she hid a part of herself from me until she could do so no longer. She dumped me cold one day after having what I thought was a very odd reaction to my congratulating her on finally pursuing counseling after years of talking about her wanting to do it. We had talked about unhealthy patterns in her life (she had brought them up to me) and when I emailed her about finally being able to get to the bottom of why, she went ballistic and never talked to me again. That is, until I literally walked into her at our local farmers market several months later. She acted like nothing ever happened and cheerily said we should get together some time. I never called. And because we had kids with us, I didn’t get confrontational. I very happily let her go.

    1. Wow, that’s an interesting story. There’s only so much you can do to help a friend with BPD and her strange reaction to your support of her getting counseling is unfortunate. You were showing your support and BAM you said something wrong or asked the wrong question. Sounds like you made the right decision in avoiding a confrontation and not calling her again.

      1. I grew up surrounded by crazy. I finally reached a point in my life where I consciously decided I was done with it.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        The Crazy-o-meter can only go so high.

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        If you can walk away saying that you felt you did what you could, you’ve done the right thing.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Sometimes I don’t think it really matters what we do.

  6. Hey Eli, thank you so much for ‘Guesting’ me today and the warm welcome!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s a pleasure to have you here, Lisa.

  7. When I moved away from my home state thirty-three years ago, my so-called best friend even came out West to visit me, and I of course saw her when I would come back to see my family with whom she had remained close. About ten years later, when I was remarried and we moved back because of my mother’s failing health, she would not have ONE THING to do with me. Nothing! I heard her husband was sick, called and left a message, wrote her, nothing. Then I heard he died, and I wrote her again — nothing. This from the woman who had treated my mother like her own, whose daughters asked my mother to be the “grandmother” at their weddings — it’s like we were dead. We used to spend Christmas with these people. She also started ignoring my mother, too, which caused her no end of heartbreak. One day my husband and I saw her in a large shopping mall in the nearby large city where we live with one of her daughters and two grandchildren. They made a great show of acting like they didn’t see us, and I knew then that I shouldn’t lose any more sleep over it. However, she had told numerous people that she just couldn’t understand why I never called! She was/maybe still is a popular beauty consultant in that small town, and anyone who didn’t fawn over her, bring her gifts, buy tons of products from her — they just weren’t worth her time. She was the one who had glommed onto us, and I suppose she moved on to someone else who she thought might be of more use to her.

    I suppose I will never really know what happened, but the whole experience was almost on a par with a bad divorce since it wasn’t just a her and me situation, but one where other people got their feelings hurt, too. / credentials can be used.

    1. Hi Ellen, this is so sad. I can’t believe she ‘dumped’ you and your mother without a word or a conversation at least. When you mention she is a popular beauty consultant in town–that twigged a thought. Maybe she views her ‘friends’ as business clients and if they don’t purchase her products she takes offense. It’s no excuse but I wonder if there is a strange connection to her business success and her friends/customers.

      Sometimes the geographical distance creates a distance in the heart as well. It can be a gradual thing and one person may resent the other one for ‘leaving’. Even so, it sounds like you made that effort to pick up where you two had left off. Also, her connection to your mother sounded strong.

      In any case, you are right to move on and not let her hurt you. Focus on the good people in your life who love you and are there for you. As Eli says ” I’d rather appreciate those who are still with me and still present than pine over those who’ve chosen to go.”

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the people who hold you up when others tear you down.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      “I suppose I will never really now what happened” … this is how so many of these situations can be summed up.

  8. ksbeth says:

    so sad and amazing that this can happen. but it does –

    1. Unfortunately, it happens in friendships. The rare ones are the long lasting friends. 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        They just have something special, don’t they Lisa?

  9. Lindsay says:

    I often look back on friends that were once dear to me and wonder when and where it all went wrong. Some days I’m all “good riddance” and other times it makes me sad for the loss of the friendship. It’s all a part of growing up and being an adult and sometimes it just sucks.

    See, Eli? This caliber of writing I cannot compare to.

    1. Hi Lindsay, I agree that some days we feel righteous about the loss and tell ourselves we don’t need them anyway. That’s how we cope. Certainly there will always be unanswered questions about the loss. I like to try to focus on the good memories and let go of the hurt they caused. I’m sure I have caused hurt as well, even if it was unknowingly. The memories are what matter and they are what we take with us. Some friends come in for a ‘season’, a ‘reason’ or a lifetime. I love that saying and it helps give perspective on the stormy friendships.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Remain in the present takes a different meaning here. It can mean enjoying the moment with a friend, without expectation. It can also be acceptance that the friend’s season has ended with us.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      You belong here, Lindsay. Let’s talk again about a guest post after things settle down.

  10. Dear Lisa… to say I know your pain would be an understatement. I have sooo been there. I have had friends come and go in my life for several reasons and sometimes it is simply a move from one town to another. Out of site out of mind kind of thing. No malice is involved… it just happens. However, there are those friends who you have known for years and suddenly you feel like you are in a scene from Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde. I have a similar story with one such friend. It bothered me for the longest time but I’m over it now and feel sorry for her. I have become pragmatic and definitely self protecting when it comes to people I let in my life and it doesn’t matter who they are… friends or family. I’m sorry for your loss but she is the one who lost out! There is something to be said about “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!” They are good words to live by in my opinion and have served me well… Rock on hon! You have a lot to give to those who want to be your friend!! 🙂

    1. Hi Courtney, thank you for your kind words. I agree about the fool me twice…I learned that the hard way. Some people shine their friendship light on you in an intense way and you get taken in quickly but when they end it, wow. It’s a blast of cold air. Sounds like you’ve handled your situation very well. I think it’s a universal experience. Rock on, indeed!! Love that.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        We all have a version, don’t we?

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Courtney – you would love Lisa’s blog.

      1. Already on it Eli!! 😉

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Good move, Court.

  11. ChrysFey says:

    This made me so sad. I think it’s heart breaking when best friends stop being best friends. I know people can grow apart, but friendship should last. My best friend since grade school and I had a falling out in high school. Then we met up by chance and picked up where we left off. There was a small falling out after that and since then things haven’t been the same. I don’t consider her a best friend anymore, but when we talk (once in a blue moon) it’s as if nothing changed.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Maybe close friends who are short of best friends have the best chance to make it stick, Chrys.

  12. Hi Chrys, thanks for stopping over 🙂 It’s interesting that when some things happen or get said between friends, there’s no recovering from it. Maybe there is that childhood bond with your friend that will somehow transcend the problems. I love when I can pick up with a friend after not seeing her for months, as if time hasn’t passed at all.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The greatest ones, you can pick up like that after it’s been years, even.

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