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I've occasionally stopped contact with former friends for a pretty narrow list of reasons. Mostly, if I found the give-and-take of the relationship was all give on my side and all take on the other, hasta. I've also disconnected from one or two people for being complete and utter assholes. One person, with whom I'd been friends for twenty years, took to belittling sarcastically everything I said regarding politics. At the same time, when she posted her opinions and I questioned her on them, I was being a dick. So that was quite enough of that.

Tina (not her real name) and I were friends for about ten years when she decided she did not want to be my friend anymore. We met in local poetry circles and associated in and out of the group. We attended concerts (something I rarely do to begin with) together. We supported each other with our work and personal lives. Suddenly, I found myself blocked from her Facebook page--not just removed as a friend, blocked. I guessed what it was about; she didn't like my tone when I posted on my Facebook and when I commented on her postings. She felt I was too abrupt and rude even, and also found me very cynical. Sure, some people find me cynical because of my staunch realism and scathing sarcasm. But I'm far from cynical, and anyone who really knows me knows that.

When i discovered I was blocked, I emailed her directly. Here's what I said in a nutshell:

I'd like to think I'm jumping to conclusions, but I'm a bit confused.

Did you deactivate or delete your Facebook profile? ...If you did, you don't need read any further. But if you didn't...

Then you removed me from your Facebook flist. I get that, too. For whatever reason, I've rubbed folks the wrong way before, and I know you and I had words (albeit nothing devastating) over Facebook before...

But... Did you block me as well? If so, I don't know what that means. Does that mean we're just no longer friends, period? ...are we not allowed to interact at all, now? When we're at the same poetry readings, should I ignore you? I really don't understand what it all means.

Once before, you told me how angry you got when I "shushed" you about something you and my friend B. were arguing about. It seemed very important to you. This, to me, feels like you've given me the ultimate shut-up. I'm not allowed to talk to you at all now, on Facebook, and not only that, you don't even want to see anything I comment or write.

I'm sorry, truly, that I've spoken out of turn, replied curtly or rudely, or have been insensitive. I would hope, though, if there were something I said that really bothered you on another level, that you would come to me, message or email me privately, and tell me about it. Or even call me and tell me we should talk. It will make me very sad if our friendship (if that's what it even was, concerts, the dancing, the private conversations away from husbands) wasn't worth that..

Her reply in its entirety: "Your provocations bring out the worst in me. Let's just leave it at that." I said back to her, "As you wish," which took great restraint.

In just a day or two, I found I was unblocked on Tina's Facebook. That's a good sign, right? You'd think so. Except that very shortly after that, she took to making unprovoked, snide, thinly veiled pokes at me. For instance, my friend O. talked about missing the open mics we used to do at a local restaurant. I replied to O. that I missed them too, and that I wondered if she'd be interested in getting together for a casual writing workshop at some point. Tina ignored my comment completely; it didn't exist to her. She commented on her own, addressed specifically to O., about how she and O. had discussed doing a writing night with two other people, and she named two specific people who said they would love to do it. It was an absolute slap in the face to me, the fact that she needed to post that after I suggested O. and I get together for a writing night. (Even O. contacted me privately about Tina's comment and asked what was going on; that's how obvious it was.)

The latest came when my friend A. posted a thoughtful status, which he is prone to do. Generally, he is insightful, but this time I felt he was a bit off-base so I called him on it with a constructive reply. He commented back to me and we had a short, polite exchange. Tina then took it upon herself to say to A., pretty much out of the blue, "Oh, A., your thoughts are so inspirational and spot on. I hope you're collecting them so that they can go into a book someday! Love you, bye!" (Okay, she didn't say that last thing.) It was at that point that I blocked her.

For the many months since this whole thing started, I've wondered, really if it was me. How did I fuck up this friendship? What could I have done differently? Should I just go see her, try to talk to her? Now I know for sure, there was nothing I could have done. And I don't feel badly about that. I just feel badly for all the energy I put into that friendship for so long. What a waste.


Postscript: There's one more thing. Tina knew well my opinion of a certain local sect of poets and how they've hijacked the local scene into their own utterly narrow vision of what poetry should be. We had discussed it at great lengths, in fact. Very shortly after she deleted me as a friend, I learned that she was now an assistant to one of the leaders of that poetry sect. She still is.

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