Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Open Letter to an Ex-Friend

November 20th, 2014

Dear Melanie,

I am not using your real name here, but if you are reading this, you know who you are. 

I hope this letter finds you well. It has been 7 1/2 years since we've spoken last and 9 years since I last saw you. There is something I have long wanted to talk to you about. I would have done it a long time ago had you not stopped answering my emails and stopped taking my telephone calls. Wait a second. Actually, that is what I wanted to talk to you about. 

We met in fall 1992 when we went to the same private school together. I was 12 and in 6th grade, and you were 13 and in 7th grade. We became fast friends because we were both odd, independent kids. I was the odd kid with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, and you were just an odd, independent, and fun kid. Both of our mothers were teachers at the school. After school we hung out in the library while our mothers were at staff meetings. We drew comic strips that would have pissed off our mothers had they seen them, we had sword fights with my mother's Christmas decorations, and we did the Russian Kazatska around the playground just because we thought it was a funny dance.

Then my mother got a new job in the public schools and I couldn't come back to the private school for 7th grade. I'll never forget when I called you to break the news. You were crying hysterically on the phone. You said I was your best friend and you were going to miss me. But we kept in touch. We saw each other several times a year throughout my 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years. We were still best friends. 

When I packed up and moved to New York City for college in the fall of 1999, you continued to live with your parents in Philadelphia and you commuted to a local university. But we still saw each other a few times a year, including on New Year's Eve, as was the tradition. We also continued our tradition of seeing the latest Disney animated movie together. 

But then in spring 2002 you got a boyfriend. At age 22, he was your first boyfriend because you, like me, were a late bloomer. I was happy for you. I met the guy a few times and I thought he was great. Then your relationship with him became more serious and you talked to me less and less. I figured it was because I was living in New York and you were still in Philadelphia. Besides, you talked about marrying the guy and about how I was going to be at the wedding. The last time we spoke, in 2007, you said that you had set the wedding date for Saturday, August 16th, 2008, if I remember correctly. But as August 2008 approached, I noticed that I never received an invitation to the wedding. I called you and emailed you, not mentioning the wedding but to see how you were doing. I figured during the conversation I could broach the topic of the wedding. But you didn't answer my emails or take my calls.

Why didn't you invite me to the wedding? If you had had a limited budget and could only invite people in the Philadelphia metro area, people who you saw on a regular basis, I would have accepted that. What hurts is not that you didn't invite me to the wedding, but rather you didn't give me an explanation as to why you didn't invite me and, more importantly, why you have continued to shun me to this day. Every once in a while over the past six years I have sent you an email asking you how you are doing, and you haven't responded. Why? Why, after the 16 years that you had known me was I no longer good enough to be your friend?

Perhaps you outgrew me. Yes, you went from getting girlhood crushes to having a serious boyfriend-turned-husband while to this day I still awkwardly struggle with obsessive crushes (mercifully the last one I had was in 2008) like a teenager. You went from laughing at my stupid jokes about my dad being older than your dad (when the reality is that your dad is older than mine) to telling me to "give it a rest." We were both huge fans of Darkwing Duck. But perhaps being a fan of a children's cartoon seemed too juvenile to you as time passed. Hell, maybe I seemed too juvenile to you. Now that you were getting married, you had to "put away childish things", and that included me. Perhaps I was simply beneath you in so many ways.

Or maybe you were afraid that I would say or do something inappropriate and embarrassing at your wedding. So instead of talking to me about it, you did what most neurotypicals do: not confront it and ditch the person. Out of sight, out of mind. Not your problem anymore. You knew I have Asperger's Syndrome, but if you had brought a concern to my attention I would have taken it seriously. But perhaps Asperger's is just too frightening to you and you want nothing to do with it. Oh, and incidentally, I heard through the grapevine that your son is on the autism spectrum. If my Asperger's is a reason for shunning me, I hope the irony isn't lost on you. And I hope you never have to watch your son go through the agony that I've endured for almost seven years: wondering why his best friend for more than half of his life now wants nothing to do with him, having dreams about confronting said person to get answers and closure, and wondering what's wrong with him that would make the other person do this to him.

That is all.

Bittersweet Wishes,


No comments:

Post a Comment