Friday, December 14, 2007

Deleted



I met Kristen 11 years ago via e-mail, when we had just bought our first computer and I was a new mom in a strange town. I was lonely, and when I saw her post on a message board for an e-mail pal, I responded. I'm not sure what drew us to each other, but before long, we became friends.

We talked about calling Oprah and actually meeting in real life, about our kids, our hopes, our dreams, and our fears. I told her things that I had never shared with anyone else, including my husband. I spent hours meticulously writing e-mails when Jake wanted to play, when Hubs wanted to do something together, and when real life friends wanted to go out for coffee.

I am not the most social person. My idea of a perfect evening is to be at home with Jake and Hubs, and nobody else. Entertaining is too stressful for me, and while I like parties to some degree, I'm not crazy about going to them. I have only a couple good friends in real life, and for me that is enough. The truth is, I don't trust women much. At crucial times in my life I've had important people walk away and I guess that on some level, I expect that everyone will walk away eventually-because for me, that is what has happened.

But with Kristen, it was different. She was different. She'd been there. She knew that pain. She knew how I didn't open up with many people the way I did with her, and she had much the same angst that I did.

For 10 years, we never disagreed. We wrote each other at least two or three times a week without fail. We exchanged cards at birthdays and Christmas, sent occasional gifts, called each other, sent pictures of our families, and even planned to meet one day. We had an emotional connection through our e-mails that I have never had with any other friend in my life.

That is, until I started blogging.

I made the first mistake. In my excitement of being a new blogger, I idolized Kristen and wanting to be just like her because she was so cool and knew all the blogging tricks, I went a little far and used some of her ideas from her blog, on mine. At the time, I didn't know much about blogging etiquette and looked at blogging as just a fun pastime.

Kristen didn't feel the same way and was understandably angry.

We did eventually work it out, but things were never the same after that. Walls were suddenly present where there were none before. Some topics suddenly became off limits. The good natured bantering and debate was suddenly fraught with suspicion and I felt like no matter what I wrote, I could never get it right and only either made her angry or offended her.

I should have seen it coming. She won't walk, my heart kept arguing. She's different. She knows you. This is just a bump in the road. My head knew the truth. It's only a matter of time. Just wait and see.

The e-mail that broke the news arrived in mid October and just like that, with one stroke of a keyboard, it was over. I went to her blog and in shock, discovered that she had even removed any links to here, any trace of ever having known me. Our friendship, the entire 11 years, had been removed by one press of a button. Deleted. As if it had never existed.

"I'll honor the season of our friendship," she had written.

How? How can you, when you've just deleted any trace of me from your life?
How can just continue merrily along as if I never existed and I'm barely able to even look at my computer anymore?

I should have seen this coming, but I didn't. Instead Hubs found me that night sobbing in front of my keyboard with a heart that felt like it had been ripped in two.

"Honey," he gently rubbed my shoulder. "she didn't really know you."

Of course she did, I argued. We were friends for 11 years!

"No," he disagreed. "She didn't. Because if she did, she'd know your heart."

I didn't believe him then.

It's been almost two months since Kristen walked out of my life. I will not lie and say that I don't miss her, because I do-terribly. I miss her witty writing, her stories, her advice. I wonder about her kids and think of her when I see movies that I know she would like, or hear about things I know she'd find funny. It's all I can do not to go by her blog and read, just to get a taste of what used to be. I just miss her, and painfully so.

However in the last while as I walked away from my computer to give myself time to process what had happened, I also realized that I learned a lesson.

I will never again hide behind a computer and sacrifice time from my real life relationships for a virtual one, because no matter what I write, a virtual friend will never really know me.

My real life friends-the ones that forgive me when I make mistakes, the ones who don't keep score; those are the ones who know my heart. Those are the friendships I need to cultivate.

Those friends don't walk away.

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