When friends aren’t forever

Michelle Poje

I’ve always believed in the phrase “friends forever.”

Unlike seventh grade romances, friendships are supposed to last until the two friends are old and gray and on their deathbeds. One never hears of someone cheating on a friend with another friend. A friend doesn’t stop being friends with people because they’ve gained weight or gotten too old.

And yet, friendships don’t always last forever. Sometimes they can’t, no matter how hard one may try. I found this out for myself when, several months ago, I finally “broke-up” with my best friend.

I had known “Jane” since seventh grade. We bonded instantly, chatting through secret notes and lunchtime conversations. Within two weeks, we had christened ourselves “best friends.”

But my friendship with Jane was one that eventually made me feel as though I was slowly suffocating. I was Jane’s only friend, and she depended on me for more than I was able to give. I was constantly standing up for her when she was picked on. I would order her food for her because she had no interest in sticking to her diabetic diet. When I spent time with other friends, Jane would complain to her mother, who would then yell at me. “How can you desert your best friend?” she would demand. “Don’t you know she needs you?”

It continued all the way to college, when Jane attended a school in another state. She was mistreated by her hallmates. She began meeting up with creepy men she would talk to online. She became attracted to one of her married professors and would wait for him outside his house. I finally called her parents and told them what she was doing. They ended up bringing her home.

The final straw came when Jane began dating someone who was controlling. I hated the person she was when she was with him: Someone who was completely blindsided by what she thought was love. “Don’t get involved with him,” I warned day after day. But by then, she had stopped listening.

I finally made up my mind that I could do no more to help her. I felt guilty, for I had grown to feel like Jane’s protector. But it was a role I had grown tired of, for Jane had become dependent on me to run her life. I wanted my freedom. So I let her go.

I believe sometimes the best gift you can give someone is to stop being a crutch for him or her to continually lean on. It’s important to be there for your friends and to help them, but not when it begins to consume your life. I feel that by removing myself from the role of Jane’s protector, I was helping her to make her own way. As a 23-year-old, it was time for her to take charge.

Several weeks ago, I heard that Jane and her boyfriend broke up. I wonder if she initiated it, if she realized what the relationship was doing to her life. I pray everyday that she is working to make the necessary changes and become the independent woman she needs to be.

But I will probably never know.

Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].