How do I gracefully exit a long-time friendship that has ran its course?

Post date: 2021-11-27 03:49:55
Views: 15
As the title says. This might be heavy.

I've been friends with Amber and Diana, who I've asked about in the past a few (spanning from different points in my life) times. I met Amber through college a good 17 years ago, and Diana (who is Amber's partner) entered the picture about 11 years ago. During those years, I've had my share of on-and-offs with them, as evidenced in previous Asks. I've repeatedly given them the benefit of the doubt and our friendship itself many chances, only to be continually hurt and rebuffed in different ways. The core of this friendship lies with Amber, where the foundation of the friendship began; Diana and I never really got to become close, but they've became a "pair" and are coupled together as my friends.

To sum it up sufficiently as possible, there are two recent components that drove home the fact that this friendship has ran its course. Two final straws, on top of many older final straws, if you may. I have other friends who would sufficiently fill in the missing gaps that would happen after the discontinuation of the friendship, and I honestly don't benefit anything anymore from the friendship, and haven't done so in a few years. We're still "close" to this day, but it feels like an illusion.

Component One: Amber and Diana are close friends with Dorothy (yes, the same Dorothy who I've asked about before). Seems Dorothy told them her version of the situation, and when Amber and I were FaceTiming one time, she admitted she was "shocked" by what happened. I don't know what defines "shocking" to her, but it came across as a bit judgmental, and a red flag (to me) was that she did not ask for my version of the story. (I did not share my side of the story at the time, as I wasn't ready.) Another slice of this component is that I feel the "toxicity" coming from Dorothy is a bit too close with them. Dorothy is a part of their wedding party. Also, I talked with Amber about getting together this fall to go to a pumpkin patch, and Amber said her knee was hurting, and the doctor recommended a home stay. However, a trusted friend of mine said he saw Dorothy's FB story, and apparently, they three went to the pumpkin patch together, and Amber wasn't "home-stayed" like she said she was. I acknowledge I might be drawing some unfair assumptions based on what others saw, not what I saw, but the general vibe I'm getting is that Dorothy is 'more important' to them than I am. I could be wrong, but that's what I'm feeling.

Component Two: Yesterday, I sent them a "Happy Day of Gratitude" text, stating I was thankful for their friendship. I don't use the term "Thanksgiving" because of the roots behind it, and instead chose to look at yesterday as a "gratitude" centered day. Diana sent a hurtful response, was curt and rude, saying she did not celebrate Thanksgiving anymore and that "we white people have murdered Indigenous people". While I am not disputing that at all, it came across as very hurtful and harsh. Diana and I haven't talked in months, and she did not even acknowledge or seem happy to hear from me. It felt like a slap in my face. Diana has always been quick to anger, and always been trending towards harsh, but this was just unexpected, especially on a positive day. Diana has been verbally abusive towards me in the past, but I always put up with it out of respect to Amber. No more of that, I know my worth and I deserve better, period.

This friendship has always been very complicated, with mixed hot and cold signals from Amber (mostly cold from Diana). Amber was very supportive when I was laid off from my job a few years ago, but she then hurt me deeply when she suggested I was laid off because of my physical appearance. I know she didn't mean to, and could be a valid suggestion, but it still hurt, especially as she was insinuating that I was physically unattractive. She wasn't supportive in some other situations. She can be a mix of sweet, helpful, positive, yet can be vindictive and manipulative at times (although that might not be her fault, she had a tough/messy childhood and was in a domestic violence relationship in early college). She always was quick to ask me for help with computer/grammar stuff, but most of the time, slow to respond when it was me who needed her. Not always, but most of the time. She also has a tendency to blame others for conflicts, without really looking inwards and be willing to see both sides, and this is still something she does to this day, from what I've observed.

As you can probably see, this friendship has been so messy and complicated over the years. It's been a source of numerous spots of hurt, angst, toxicity, and wondering what was wrong with me (mostly the 2011-2017 era, not so much recently), and good times, too, to be completely fair.

I guess my recent culling of unhealthy friendships (ie, Dorothy) and developing more confidence in eliminating toxicity has helped me to realize, especially after those two final straws, that, yes, it's time to retire this friendship peacefully. However, I am still feeling a bit uncertain, and wondering if I am giving up a beautiful friendship (because Amber can be beautifully warm and supportive). It'd definitely be the end of an era, but who's not to say the era had already ended, and our friendship is just barely hanging on by a frayed string?

There are two big reasons that is giving me pause to discontinue the friendship:

Reason One: A couple of years ago (pre-COVID), I was invited to, and accepted, as a guest at their wedding. Their wedding was postponed several times, to Autumn 2022 (a long way away). If/once I withdraw the acceptance to the wedding invitation, that's it, no going back. I could go to the wedding, then just eventually fade away, but I'm not interested in that, because Autumn 2022 is a long way away, and I don't want to play the slow fade game for that long of a time; plus, I hate ambiguity, and am just ready for this to be over, if that makes sense.

Reason Two: I helped Amber start with a photos organization way back in 2014 (about 90k photos on her end), and the project was never finished, due to her own life stresses and whatnot. My concern is that she might somehow hold that against me. It did feel like a burden at the time. We haven't worked on the project at all since 2014. She also had other computer problems that she depended on me to help, including asking me at our 2019 Thanksgiving gathering to help with a more complicated-than-imagined computer problem, which caught me off guard.

I guess, at this juncture, I'm not sure what to do (or more specifically, how to gracefully break things off without any ugly words being exchanged on their end, or drama. I've toyed a few times internally in the past with discontinuing the friendship, out of anger when something wasn't going right, but never went with it. I'm ready, I think now, but I'm still pausing and just not sure of the right way to actually break it off (ie, disentangling from social media). I'm definitely ready to move forward with my life, sans Amber/Diana and all the heaviness that comes with them. It'll be odd and somewhat empty, but at the same time, the friendship has been dwindling over the last few years, subtly but surely.

A small part of me (probably the vestigial "people pleaser" self) is saying I'm overreacting, that Amber is a fine friend, but in general, I am confident deep inside this friendship has ran its course, but I really need some help and insight on how to end it gracefully, with the least hurt feelings/drama as possible. Thanks.
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