Birthday card from an ex-friend, not sure what to do now

From junior high until halfway through college I had a best friend who in a lot of ways was like a sister to me, but things started going south in the last few years for a bunch of reasons (some her fault, some mine.) The thing that brought the whole friendship to a crappy end was a boyfriend she started off ka-RAZY about, but it didn’t take long for him to turn into a whiny, controlling, passive- aggressive merkin (and yes she did a lot of things that aggravated him, too, but by default at the time I was on her side.)

She “dealt” with the problem by basically hanging out with me exclusively, pretty much all the time we weren’t at work/school. This had the effect of annoying me because I couldn’t get any time alone (again, my fault because I could have told her I didn’t want to go/do whatever) and pissing off the boyfriend because A) she wasn’t with him and B) I would urge her to break up with him because it wasn’t a happy relationship for either party.

He “dealt” with the situation by spreading vicious rumors about me and culminated with one of his (female) cousins threatening to pound the snot out of me, which was the point when I said “it’s over.”

I wrote a letter saying exactly what had happened and exactly how I’d been feeling, and that I couldn’t take it any more. I wouldn’t answer any of her calls and avoided any place I might have bumped into any of them. I was a wreck for weeks afterwards but in the end basically all I could feel was relief.

Fast forward ~15 years to yesterday when I picked up my mail and one had a return address in Canada. As I’m wondering who the hell I know in Canada I opened it up and found a birthday card from the ex-friend, with a note inside which basically said “now that we’re older, maybe we can put the bad stuff behind us and be friends again.”

I don’t really know what I felt as the whole situation played out in my head again. My knee-jerk reaction was to throw the card in the trash (which I did at first, picked it out later).

I didn’t sleep much, but I made myself think about the whole thing. And I realize I don’t hold any kind of a grudge towards her or the boyfriend, and something that seemed world-ending when I was 19 basically wasn’t.

However I’m not sure what to do next. I don’t wish her any ill, but I don’t want to reconnect, either. Throwing the card back in the trash and pretending I never got it just doesn’t seem right; I’m leaning more towards sending back a short note that basically says, I don’t hold a grudge, I hope you’re happy with your new life, when I think of the past I remember the good times, but I’m not interested in restarting the friendship.

I kind of think she deserves a response because it couldn’t have been easy for her to seek me out, but now I’m worried about saying something too harsh or dismissive. Why’s life gotta be complicated :mad:

Option 1: Are you very much like you were at 19? If so, then you’re waste, if not then you should probably allow that her life is richer and she is more mature, too.

Option 2: Are you certain the card wasn’t laced with weaponized anthrax?

Is your only contact info the return address on the card? Has she popped up on your Facebook page yet?

For the record, I think “I don’t hold a grudge, I hope you’re happy with your new life, when I think of the past I remember the good times, but I’m not interested in restarting the friendship” is a perfectly OK note to send. It’s honest, not bitter, and lets her know what’s up (far kinder than leaving her hanging). Straight-up ignoring her would be a fairly bitchy thing to do. Do you feel bitchy? (Well? Do ya, punk?)

Geographically, it sounds like you’re far away anyways, so “reconnecting” is unlikely to result in you seeing her every day. Sending a thank-you note, perhaps making a comment or two about your life now and wishing her luck in hers sounds like a good idea. I wouldn’t say “I don’t want to restart a friendship” but just keep things simple and polite. This sounds like the snail-mail version of Facebook; you add an old friend, snoop around to see where their life is now, then forget about them until the sidebar tells you to wish them happy birthday.

I can understand that it ended badly, and you don’t want to risk something like that again, but if you’ve changed, there’s a chance so did she.

You’re under no obligation to be friends with her again. I am sure you know that, but it can be nice to have it validated by other people. You don’t have to write her back if you don’t want to. There’s nothing bitchy about preserving your sanity. You don’t have to throw out the card, but it’s fine if you want to. It doesn’t matter to anybody else in the world what you do with it, or whether you contact her. If you want to be friends with her again, write back. If you don’t, it is totally fine to just let it go.

Even though she has grown up in the meantime, as we all do, there’s no reason to assume that she would make good friend material now. And sometimes you just have to cut a person off forever. Regardless of how they’ve changed, they hurt you in the past and it’s often best to leave the relationship dead and buried. Do what makes you happy, not what some internet douche says you “should.”

How did she get your address, btw? Seems kinda stalkery unless you have it public on facebook. If you do, you might want to change your security settings.

Just send her a birthday card when it’s her birthday (hopefully, this won’t be anytime soon… you could even delay to Christmas) with a nice (and extremely short) note saying “It was nice to hear from you!” The long delay and short note will tell her everything (if she’s grown up at all) you want her to know without actually having to say it, which I personally think would be a little blunt: you’re happy she’s having a good life and has grown up, you appreciate her note, but you’re not exactly chafing at the bit to be best buddies again.

If she were in the same city and constantly bugging you, that would be one thing, but would it really be so bad to put her on your Christmas card list, especially if you’ve both matured? I think it’s kind of fun to get and give Christmas cards from/to friends from when I was 19, even if I have absolutely no desire to ever hang out with them again.

ETA: or what mnemosyne said.

Would you believe that phonebooks have been around since the 1880s?

Something similar happened to me many years ago. Out of the blue I got a long letter from an ex-friend (coincidentally, also from Canada). She said she’d been in a car accident, almost died, and was “making amends” to people she had hurt by writing them and apologizing.

Well, good for her. I felt no obligation to respond and had no problem tossing the letter.


(Disclaimer: I am not an Internet Douche, but I play one online.)

Is she or was she a toxic friend? Did she throw you under the bus? Yeah, it ended badly, but don’t you think you’ve both matured a fair bit?

Sounds to me the big problem was the animosity between the boyfriend and you. She was just stuck in the middle. Though I guess its her fault she ended up there. Was she an okay person before the boyfriend?

I don’t think taking the high road here is going to kill you or turn your life into another drama fest.

I’m not sure what happened all those years ago, but it doesn’t look like your friend threw you under the bus or anything similar. It sounds like her creepy stalker boyfriend’s cousin threatened you not your friend.

Send her a reply or not, but I’m not sure why you would be holding a grudge after all these years.

Thanks for the responses, everyone. It’s nice to know I’m allowed to feel the feelings I’m feeling :slight_smile:

To answer everyone’s questions:

I didn’t see any white powder in it, so unless it was invisible stealth anthrax I think I’m OK :wink:

I’m not on Farcebook; I’m assuming she just sent the card to the last address she knew of and hoped I hadn’t moved (which I haven’t).

I’ve definitely matured and changed a lot over the years. In fact I think if I ever met the 19-year-old me I’d want to bitch slap her :smiley: I’m sure she has changed just as much. I mean it when I say I hope she’s happy now; she was always restless and very unhappy at home (with good reasons) and I really do hope she’s settled down and found peace.

As far as the boyfriend goes, I got along with him fine at first, but out of nowhere he turned on me (I don’t remember anything in particular that set him off) at first by ignoring me, deliberately being late when we were going somewhere as a group (there were a hwole bunch of us and he was the only driver at the time). This escalated to him saying I was a jealous lesbian who was trying to break them up (I’m straight but butch), a hermaphrodite (because I looked/dressed boyish back then) and saying that I was on drugs (never was).

I tried not to badmouth him to her, not always successful. There is just a point at which you just wonder “if you’re so unhappy with him, why the fuck have you not broken up?” and she always had some excuse.

As for her being a toxic friend, she kind of was. if I had a crush on a guy, she had to have a bigger one (and also flirted indiscriminately with any human male between the age of puberty and 60; like I said, I can understand some of the boyfriend’s insecurity). If I made a Dungeons & Dragons character, she had to have one stronger/ smarter/ kewler. If I drew a picture, she had to draw a better one (usually by tracing pictures out of books and getting pissy when called on it.) If I learned to ice skate, she had to be just a little more adept and act like she was Kristi goddamn Yamaguchi.

And dumbass me for suffering through it in silence :smack:

I think I will send the note that says “I wish you well and remember the good times” because it just seems to be the right thing to do; I just feel like I owe her that much for making the effort. After all if the card doesn’t go back to her marked “return to sender” she’d have to know I got it.

forgot to preview as usual :smack:

I said in the OP that I don’t bear her a grudge (and not to the boyfriend either). She never threw me under the bus and never threatened me, and in fact she offered to pound the snot out of the cousin for me.

Despite the long whiny posts I’m making about it, I really had mostly written the whole mess out of memory but having it come at me out of the blue like that did dredge up some ucky feelings, and I made this thread because I didn’t want to make the mistake of doing something hurtful/spiteful just because I’m a little off kilter.

Now that you posted the follow-up, I get it. It wasn’t really the boyfriend, it was everything else. I can see why you don’t want to be best buds again.

Just send her a nice thank you note appreciating the birthday card and hoping that she is doing well. I wouldn’t include a telephone, e-mail or other contact info. and just let it be via snail mail.

Unless she specifically said that she’s realized the drama she generates is a bad thing and she’s worked on fixing it, I would consider her probably still tangled up in the same drama generation.

Outside of a theater, drama is a bad thing. There are far more positive things to spend your energy on.

Chances are your friend was doing just fine without you, then something happened, and she ran out of friends. So now she’s digging up old ones from the past.

People changing is very rare, oh for sure it CAN happen but it’s not likely. What’s more likely is she wants something. A plane ride is fairly cheap and you don’t want someone on your doorstep.

I’d say let it drop. You’re no worse off for letting it drop and you have more to lose than gain

:dubious: Now that’s not very generous at all.

Of course, if she’s going to be antisocial about it she could alwas write back, “My name is indeed “ugly ripe tomato” but until 2004 I lived in Nigeria. Are you that kind woman who helped my uncle retreive his fortune when he escaped to Lucerne, Switzerland?”

I think this is the polite thing to do. Good for you.

Personally, I lean more towards, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” Wait, what? That one’s taken? Well, nertz.

Thanks again to everyone for the input and for not telling me to quit being a whiny twerp about this :smiley: I’m going to sleep on it and decide whether I will write back or not in the morning.