Monday, October 7, 2013

The Big Silence

Sixteen years ago, I lost my best friend. Every year around this time, I revisit the ghost of friendship past. Through the years, my feelings of loss have lessened and my understanding of what happened has deepened. I finally decided that I needed to commit these feelings to words in the hopes of finally achieving a final, lasting peace.


In college, I had a best friend, Crystal. We were close and I loved her. I thought that she loved me in return but I was wrong.

Crystal once said, "When my mother gets mad at you, she stops speaking to you. Not one word."

At the time, the behavior baffled me. I come from a noisy family of talkers. When angered, Snarks can't keep their mouths shut to save their lives. I wondered: how is someone supposed to know you're upset with them if you don't tell them?

A few years later, Crystal stopped speaking to me. Presumably, she was angry with me and in the silent treatment tradition of her mother, she simply stopped communicating. Whatever the case, I never did find out why and we haven't spoken since. The silent treatment turned into a big silence that took on greater implications for me--a lifelong impact.

I recall feeling devastated and confused. I was angry. I was hurt.

I blamed myself.

For years afterward, I drove myself crazy wondering exactly what had happened.  What had I done wrong? Did she expect me beg for forgiveness? Given an opportunity, I'd have apologized even though I wouldn't have known what for. Eventually, I concluded that people who employ The Silent Treatment are universally passive aggressive.

I really wish I'd written her a letter:

          Dear Crystal,

          I'm sorry you're angry and I wish I knew when and where things went wrong. I hope someday you figure out how to communicate with people. I pray you've had a good  and happy life.


Men and Mind-reading

Fast forward a few years and I noticed a pattern among certain women, a tendency to get mad a man over something or other. Then, instead of making a verbal complaint, she would bestow the silent treatment upon the guy. Worse yet, the poor sod was supposed to somehow intuit not only that she was angry but WHY. This behavior was common among young women. No doubt, I was guilty of it a time or two myself.

Sometime in my mid-twenties, a startling revelation hit me:


With this epiphany, my life changed forever for the better. The proverbial clouds parted and a ray of light shone down from the heavens, illuminating me with the wisdom of womanhood. I realized that getting mad at a man for being clueless and then refusing to talk to him are truly unproductive and petty behaviors. It is the height of manipulation.

Men are simple creatures, easily confused, absolutely oblivious. An alledged 93% of human communication is supposed to be nonverbal.  What they never tell you is that those studies were conducted on all female test subjects. Researchers simply assumed that what must be true for women also holds for men.

For the male of the species, I suspect the true figure is closer to 11%.

To counter this phenomenon, I started talking, expressing my desires and grievances with words rather than telepathic thought projections. It took a few years, a process full of trial and error, but the results were amazing! Men knew what I was thinking!

Nowadays, I go one step further. Mr. Snark and the boys always know when they are in trouble. Not only do I provide a verbal account of their sins along with a stern rebuke, but I explain in excruciating detail exactly what steps must be taken to get back into my good graces. 

If I'm really mad, I provide a written list of grievances. Itemized. With bullet points.  

Because men can't read minds.

My former friend has a lasting and fundamental impact on me that will endure for the rest of my life. I'm through denying the shattering importance of what she did...and did More than anything, I strive not to be like her.

I still miss her.


  1. I had a friend who recently dropped off the face of the earth - although she actually only lives a few blocks away. I have no idea what I did. I tried emails, calling and stopping by the house. I sent a card and a donation when her father passed away, and if nothing else, common courtesy would have her send a thank you for the gesture. Nothing! Originally I wished I'd known what I did so I could apologize, but now I realize that with behaviour like that, the loss is hers not mine.

    1. Charlotte, I'm sorry you experienced that. I know it's rough. You've got the right attitude. :-)

      Thanks for commenting. This topic was difficult for me. Writing about it has some catharsis value but I can very close to not even posting this.