Calling off a close friendship is not usually an easy thing, but sometimes it is. Sometimes we realize that our shitty friend can take their shitty excuse for friendship, and shove it. That's what happened for me anyway.
I met Hayley* at university, and we swiftly became best friends. Both of our boyfriends worked at night so Hayley and I hung out in the evenings drinking wine and watching "American Horror Story." She was generous and caring, but was also very excitable and loved to be the centre of attention.
I realised early on that she was quite insecure, but growing up in the shadow of your older sister's successful modelling career would probably make most girls feel mediocre. So when Hayley's boyfriend proposed to her, I think she seized the opportunity to have her time in the spotlight.
In January this year, Hayley told me and a mutual friend, Celeste* about the engagement, with a disclaimer that no one else was to know yet, because they hadn't had the "proper" proposal. He had proposed to her overseas on New Year's Eve, which is really nothing to sniff at, but their memory of the evening was tarnished by Hayley drunkenly vomiting afterwards. Even though they could have omitted this small detail from the story, they decided it was best to just have a complete do-over.
For about two months we were sworn to secrecy because even their families were not to be told until the proposal had been satisfactorily executed. When Celeste accidentally let the news slip to someone in Hayley's presence, her outraged reaction should have been a red flag to me.
Suddenly my friendship with Hayley consisted of attending bridal shows, reading wedding magazines, discussing menu options and so on. I found all of this pretty exciting, especially because I got to enjoy the fun of planning yet my own bank account was safe from it all.
Hayley was really going all out with everything. The engagement party alone was costing about $20,000, with about half of that was going towards the fake turf that would be covering the entirety of her parents' indoor horse arena. I know the cost of the wedding was causing a huge amount of stress for her. It was so bad at some points that she was taking time off of work, and money was almost all she spoke about. However, any suggestions of cheaper alternatives were always dismissed.
About a month after their engagement became official, Hayley and her fiancé had a huge argument, and she left their apartment to stay with her parents. The following night she attended her friend's birthday party. I checked in with her the next morning to see how she was feeling, and found out that she'd fooled around with a couple of guys and was seriously consider breaking up with her fiancé.
The following day she texted me saying they had made up, and dove right back into discussing wedding plans with me. I was dumbfounded. I really doubted whether Hayley was mature enough for marriage at her young age, and to be honest, about her reasons for wanting to get married in the first place.
We began to check out prospective wedding venues, and it became evident that nothing in our state was going to cut it. At this point the word "elope" started getting bandied about. I remember the day that Hayley asked me to be a bridesmaid. She asked me how much weight I wanted to lose before the ceremony, because I'd need to start getting fitted for a dress soon. She also made note of how my short legs and big hips would be contrasted against the tall, slender bodies of her sister and the other bridesmaid. I was really uncomfortable with the idea of being a bridesmaid, but saying no is hard for a non-confrontational person like me, so I accepted her offer.
New details about the ceremony emerged. It was now going to be held on an exclusive, tropical island with just a small wedding party. The cheapest nightly rate for a room on the island is $700 and I would be expected to stay at least two nights. I was also told that now the engagement party was going to become a "wedding party" (in lieu of a reception), and there would be also be a separate engagement party, a hen’s night, and a bridal shower. I would of course need an outfit for each event, and it was insinuated that gifts were expected at each one.
When I got home I did a bit more research. It turns out that flying to the island would cost me approximately $1,000 each way. Then there were the other expenses to consider, such as food, drinks, activities and travel on the island, loss of income from taking time off, etc. What the hell had I gotten into? The costs associated with me attending the multiple wedding events could end up being in excess of $5,000!
The night after she asked me to be a bridesmaid, Hayley and I went out to a friend's party at a club. It was so busy that some other friends and I decided to leave. Immediately I received a slew of vicious text messages from Hayley accusing me of abandoning her, even though she was there with a group of other friends. She then came outside, calling me all sorts of names before disappearing down the street.
When I read through her text messages the next day, I realised that I would never speak to a friend the way she had spoken to me. Even if I was pissed off, even if I'd been drinking. I wanted out. I also felt guilty for agreeing to be a bridesmaid in a wedding that I didn’t fully support. I texted her and said that it wasn't healthy for me to be friends with her any longer.
Done. Simple. Part of me feels bad for letting something like this ruin my friendship, when in reality it was probably Hayley's insecurities which drove her to be so extravagant and demanding with her wedding planning. Maybe I'm a bitch for leaving her when she was vulnerable, but I will never apologize for putting my own well-being first.
*Names have been changed.