What Did I Do Wrong?: When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship is Overby Liz Pryor
It happens without warning, and it hits you with devastating force. Your closest girlfriend, the Ethel to your Lucy, the Thelma to your Louise, cuts you off completely. No more late-night phone calls, no more afternoon e-mails, no more catch-up lunches and dinners. She has decided for whatever reason to move on with her life and has left you to figure it out on your own. The experience can be as painful and confusing as a sudden breakup with a significant other, and you replay scenes from the friendship and wonder what you did wrong.
Until now, women had to endure the heartache of losing a friend all alone, without the social support and understanding that accompanies, say, a romantic split-up -- and to make matters worse, they don't even have their best friend's shoulder to cry on. But What Did I Do Wrong? gives you that sympathetic shoulder and a resource -- and some answers -- that you can rely on. After author Liz Pryor had gone through a number of these breakups herself, she set out to discover why they were happening, how to help herself -- and others -- get through them...and how to prevent them from happening again.
Through personal interviews and her popular website, www.lizpryor.com, Pryor collected hundreds of stories of friendships with which you will identify. Now she draws on those stories to explore the dynamics of friendship breakups in a candid, intimate way, revealing the patterns, the warning signs, and some ways to put a friendship right or help it change to meet your or your friend's changing life. She also explains how to end a friendship -- if you find that you need to do so -- in ways that honor both parties' feelings and your history together.
Like the best kind of girlfriend -- one who really will stay friends forever -- Pryor blends plain, old-fashioned, feminine good sense and good humor with genuine empathy for the thousands of women who live with the confusion that lingers after an ended friendship -- for women of all ages, races, and backgrounds. What Did I Do Wrong? validates your feelings and inspires you to be more forthright and compassionate with new and old friends. It might even lead you to reconnect with a lost one. In the end, you will be moved and uplifted by the many stories of strong friendships, broken friendships, and renewed friendships that make this book a treasure of women's wisdom and experiences.
- Atria Books
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- SIMON & SCHUSTER
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Read an Excerpt
"You can date the evolving life of a mind, like the age of a tree, by the rings of friendship."
-- Mary McCarthy
I remember thinking how lucky I was to have found a friend like Maggie. I had moved to Los Angeles from my all-American roots in suburban Chicago. I was positive that not a soul I'd meet would go deeper than the color of her hair, and -- boom! -- along came Mag, real to the bone. Smart, tough, and my kind of funny. We became the kind of friends women live to have. We spent endless hours contemplating life and love and books and men. I was newly married and she was a budding actress. Our lives were perfectly opposite.
The arrival of my first baby was a thrill beyond what either of us ever imagined. We reveled in the baby's every move. The first time my daughter laughed she was sitting on Maggie's lap. We thought she was choking; we panicked in sync like psychotics. When the baby had her first vaccination shots, Maggie came with me. For days afterward we fantasized about the different ways in which we could kill the wretched nurse who had administered the shots into my little angel's bicep. We shared everything that happened in our lives. From the grandest to the smallest, we were emotionally enmeshed.
Just about four years after we met, I called her on an ordinary Saturday afternoon to see if she wanted to join my pregnant-again self and my daughter at the park, and for some reason I didn't hear back from her. When the third day without reply came and went, I began to wonder. Had something happened? Had I pissed her off? Had the baby pissed her off? Had I done something wrong? Two weeks passed. I finally reached her; she picked up her phone and I said, "Oh, my God, is something wrong?"
She answered quietly and directly, "Not really, I'm just sooo busy."
Deep in your heart, where bullshit can't survive, it's impossible to mistake one woman blowing off another for anything other than what it is. When I hung up the phone with Maggie, I knew somewhere inside me that our friendship was over.
It happens without warning and it hits you with devastating force. Your closest girlfriend, the Ethel to your Lucy, the Thelma to your Louise, stops calling you or seeing you. She has decided for whatever reason to move on with her life and she leaves you to clean up the broken pieces of the friendship. The experience can be as painful as the death of a loved one, and just as confusing as an unexpected breakup with a significant other.
Every woman has experienced a failed friendship, but when it happens we rarely talk about it. Why? For one thing, we have nowhere to turn. The one person we confide in during times of duress is the very person who has left our side. As for husbands and boyfriends, well, we know what little solace they provide in this department. "Maybe she is busy," my husband, Thomas, replied when I told him about Maggie.
Women are raised to believe that the conflicts in male-female relationships may never resolve, but that the bond between two female friends is steadfast and impervious to other influences. After all, we don't just make friends; we make friends forever. So when our nearest and dearest gives us the cold shoulder and the silent treatment, we're left reeling and confused, overwhelmed by a pain that is both acute and unfamiliar. To protect ourselves, we internalize our hurt feelings, bury the issues deep inside us, and try to fill the hole by focusing our attention on anything but the failed friendship.
The problem is that the hole an intimate friend leaves behind can never really be replaced or filled. It is the loss of a loved one, a permanent loss, and in some ways dealing with it can be more difficult than dealing with death because this loved one made a conscious decision to leave your life. A full resolution rarely happens, but it is vital for every woman to try consciously to overcome the experience.
Copyright © 2006 by Liz Pryor
Meet the Author
Liz Pryor grew up in a small suburb outside Chicago and has spent the last five years devoted to helping and commiserating women on her website. She runs her own chat rooms, answers questions, and rants weekly about the insanity and hilarity of everyday life. She contributes as a friendship expert to most of the women’s magazines in the country, and for the last year has written an online parenting column for the national baby products company Munchkin. She guests regularly as a go-to girlfriend, dispensing advice, on Leeza Gibbon’s nationally syndicated radio show “Hollywood Confidential.” Liz lives in Sherman Oaks with her three teenaged children.
Most recently, Liz applied along with more than fifteen thousand other Americans for the full-time Advice Guru position on ABC’s Good Morning America… and won!
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