From What Faded (III of V in the Friend Breakup Series)
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
One occupational hazard of being friends with entrepreneurs is receiving their email newsletters after you’re no longer friends.
The customary social media unfriending is easy, the process of unfollowing practically anonymous, relatively painless, and the first line of defense when a relationship sours. Making yourself invisible to someone you no longer want to acknowledge exists is pretty quick and detached in this day and age. When they do the same, it’s just as neutral and unblinking. A long time can pass without even realizing someone isn’t residing in your virtual circle anymore.
But when you’ve signed up for each other’s email lists, it’s personal. The bold simply unsubscribe, fully aware that the other person will know, as those details are tracked within their email marketing software. Not such a big deal if you have a sea of subscribers and a virtual assistant handling the back end so your eyes are averted to other areas of business. If you have 23 subscribers (me), the loss of any one renders a palpable sting. Especially when it’s a used-to-be-friend, which reminds you that most of the people on your list know you personally and are only signed up to receive your emails because they like you enough.
To quell this potential blow, I did myself the service of removing ex-friend from my list to avoid the inevitable pang of seeing her unsubscribe from mine. It probably never crossed her mind to do the same, or maybe, on some level, it was a passive aggressive challenge. You want out? Then you bone up and have the courage to unsubscribe, I could hear her egging me on.
I didn’t have the courage. Yet.
In It Was Like A Death and The Fallout, I charted the occurrence and aftermath of this recent friend split, and as time stretches, new elements of uncoupling pop up, often at times when I feel like I’m just starting to get over it. Which was the very case when ex-friend’s email snagged my attention this morning (another smack of a reminder to not check my inbox first thing in the AM!).
I wasn’t nearly as triggered, resentful or jealous as I thought I’d be. I felt relieved to read it as someone who no longer knew the goings-on behind the email, who wasn’t in-the-know when it came to anything in her life anymore. I could feel myself almost on the cusp of being able to genuinely be happy for her. As much as I wasn’t over so many things said and done, I was officially out of the relationship, free and clear, and it made me feel like I was finally safe.
I wanted to remain off her radar, avoiding the overlap of our internet personas at all costs.
So I blocked the email address. Instead of having to compare and agonize and deal with potential trigger mines every time she updated her website, her emails would be automatically ushered to my spam folder along with phony life insurance ads and Walmart gift card scams.
It was easier this way. Was that so wrong?
For those of us that skirt confrontation, who are keener to avoid energies that agitate us than demand full-frontal resolution through hard conversation, can we take both the high road and the back road?
An email about my ex-friend’s latest offerings is the last thing I want to see, and the farthest from what I need, because it’s been getting so much better. The consuming post-breakup memory dives, flush of intensity that seized me whenever I so much as thought of her . . . they were fading.
I didn’t need to toss some sort of finalizing statement her way with an unsubscribe. I didn’t want her to see me or know me or have any ways in and back to me. And I certainly didn’t want to put my nose in her shit either. I was relishing my newfound independence and invisibility. I wanted to be erased from her life and vice versa.
First it was phone, then Facebook, now spam folder. I was tucking her away. Hiding the evidence. Letting the hurt of abandonment fade with less exposure and fewer reminders of her. Already, time was healing wounds that I knew, one day, would fade to the light pink trailing of a scar, maybe less. Maybe I would shed this one completely, with fresh skin in its place. More self-respect. Healthier friendships to show for it. Outrageous Joy to follow.
From what faded, subtle color was returning to my life.
Maybe I was wrong and could have done it better.
Maybe I wasn’t and did my very best.