When Your Friend Becomes a Pessimist

I have an old colleagues, a friend you would say,  I’ll call Sal for the purpose of this post. Sal and I met while working together at our previous organization. How we met continues to bring a smile to my face (no matter how negative he has become). Before we met in person, we were introduced by our boss via email who asked both of us to complete the same task. A sort of “who completes it first receives the recognition”, but in a friendly fire kind of way.

One of us (I can’t remember who at this point) emailed the other and said “whoever gets it first owes the other a coffee”. Long story short – I met him in person while delivering a Hazelnut coffee. We were insta-friends. We talked about work, home life, childhood memories, and funny memes. Eventually our friendship escalated to dinner dates with each other spouses and they too hit it off in the friendship department. It was like coworker friendship heaven.

Fast forward 6 9 months.

Sal decided the organization we worked for was no longer bearable. He had managed to get on radar of Executive Leadership for unfavorable reasons – reasons that would take a long time to be professionally forgiven. Sal decided that the best course of action would be to move his 7 month pregnant wife 7 states away….

This was the beginning of the downfall.

I spent 9 months watching my friend make bad decision after bad decision – all while trying to be the supportive friend I know he and his wife needed me to be. Even my fiancé tried to be supportive to people he barely knew, but was familiar with their circumstances. I tried to offer support without offering advice. I tried to be understanding without being dismissive. I tried to do everything I could think of that a friend should do when their friend is going through a tough time. But in reality, I was dealing with a personality type I had never dealt with before – a narcissist.

The realization of my “friendship” with Sal hit me like a ton of bricks. To be clear, I am not wallowing in self-pity or speaking out of jealousy. In fact it is quite the opposite. There I was – a working (step)mother trying to manage a very demanding and stressful job, raise a pre-teen daughter, and maintain my own romantic relationship with my partner while staying in touch with my own friends and family. I didn’t exactly have a lot of extra minutes in a day, especially to cater to the delusions of a narcissist.

After trying repeatedly to have a normal conversation with Sal, just like old times, (and during a particular stressful, patience less day) I had finally reached my breaking point – I cut ties with Sal.

I wished him the best of luck to his young family and told him I hope life settles down and he finds happiness. I also told him why I was walking away – that he was no longer the person I knew before. He was no longer a friend to me.

Sal didn’t say anything in response, and to be honest, I’m glad he didn’t. His lack of response told me he knew what he was doing and wasn’t remorseful about it. What I have learned in my lifetime is that people who are in denial tend to be defensive about things. Those who have accepted actions/decisions/etc tend to remain silent. Say no more my former friend, your silence speaks volumes.