Am I being a bitch? Ex-friends and moral high ground

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Vierran, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Vierran

    Vierran small and sharp

    Backstory: I am in a very small graduate program. My class is around 30 students, we take all our classes together, we spend huge amounts of time studying outside of class together, and we've been doing this for more than two years now. So, we all know each other very, very well, and our drama levels can be kind of absurd.

    For about a year and a half, I was close friends with someone, we'll call her C. C and I talked about nerdy things we couldn't talk about with anyone else, I supported her through some pretty major life events, and I trusted her with a lot of personal stuff I normally never tell anyone about. Among other things, she was the only person in our program who I had mentioned my motor learning problems to, and she knew about my anxiety and depression.

    In our program, there are a lot of motor skills we have to learn, and we have very high-stress practical examinations on those motor skills. This past spring, the anxiety and the motor coordination and everything caused me to shut down during a practical, and I failed it pretty spectacularly. I was really upset afterwards, and a couple of other friends were sitting with me while I tried to get myself to stop crying in the school's cafe.

    C finishes her practical partway through this, and comes over to where I am sitting. I am still sobbing. My face is red and puffy. Everything about me is showing that I am miserable. The following dialogue is exactly verbatim:

    C: "Well, that was easy."
    Me: "Could you go fuck yourself?"
    C: Well fine then.

    C leaves. Now, when I am that level of upset, I have no intonation, so I know I didn't raise my voice or anything like that. My friend S, who was there with me, backs this up. This is literally the only thing I said to C in anger.

    I give C some time to cool off, and spend some time thinking about whether I can forgive C. Eventually, a couple weeks later, I've come to terms with stuff, and I decide to apologize to her, because, even though I still think her behavior was wildly inappropriate, I can acknowledge that I over-reacted. I do that, every carefully and precisely. I take responsibility for my response, make no excuses, deflect no blame, and don't demand anything from her in my apology.

    Her response to my apology is to compare me to her abusive ex, who I supported her through the process of leaving. So, at that point, I decide I'm pretty done trying to be friends with her. Okay, fine, we're adults, we can be professional about this. I try to respect her boundaries, I don't push her to interact with me. She goes around telling all our classmates that I'm just like her abusive ex. (Apparently; I only heard about this from S).

    Since then, things are pretty unpleasantly tense. We had a lot of mutual friends, and she refuses to hang out with them if I'm around. I have tried to give her space, but I also don't want to give up my other friendships over this, and I'm certainly not going to ask people to choose sides. For a long time, I was just not approaching friends if she was hanging out with them, but that sucks a lot, so lately, I've been hanging out with people anyway. She will, invariably, make an excuse to leave within a couple minutes of me showing up.

    Where the problem comes in is that I feel a certain satisfaction in knowing that I can make her leave just by hanging out with mutual friends. I know that's petty and vindictive, but I also feel like I have a right to spend time with other people even if she doesn't want to spend time with me. I am trying very hard here to treat her with respect even though she has not shown any toward me. How do I balance that with 1. maintaining moral high ground in the eyes of my classmates, and 2. getting to spend time with people I like spending time with? I am pretty frustrated with the whole situation, and I can feel my impulse control wavering.
    • Witnessed x 6
  2. mizushimo

    mizushimo the greatest hits

    It's really up to her to come to terms with how to be civil around you. You guys don't have to be friends, but both of you need to move on for the sake of your other friendships. I think the only thing you need to do is to do what you are doing, to be polite to her in public and give her space. If they ask, let your friends know that you aren't holding a grudge against her nor are you looking to start more trouble and explain the situation in a neutral way if asked (make sure to explain it in a way that doesn't make either of you look bad, adding emotional details about how you were wronged will make you look petty. It was something that happened which effected your whole group)

    I really feel like it shouldn't be up to you to avoid situations where the other person is present, you aren't responsible for her grudge. It would be different if you were fighting with her or bad mouthing her in front of your other friends, but that doesn't seem to be the case. You've done as much as you can to smooth things over.
    • Agree x 7
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