The Day Political Differences Ended A Cherished Friendship
I was completely blindsided.
On a sunny morning, I walked by her familiar front porch and my heart felt heavy. As my dog trotted along the sidewalk and smelled her grass, I tried to keep from staring at her house too long, for fear she’d see me walking by. Though I’d spent years drinking coffee at her kitchen table and sipping wine by her backyard pool, those days are long gone for our friendship.
As I hustled my pup past her house, I glanced back and wished I had the nerve to walk up to her door, in the familiar way I did when our kids were small. I wanted to ring her doorbell and make her look me in the eye and tell me that our friendship never meant anything to her. That the years of confiding motherhood stresses, attending spirited book club discussions, and laughing through home-improvement nightmares were easy to throw away.
I wanted her to say out loud that our friendship was worth ending over our political differences.
When I met my friend at a Mommy and Me playgroup, we were new mothers. Both of us had toddlers and we instantly bonded over sleep deprivation and the tedium of being the stay-at-home parent. I’d eagerly look forward to her witty sense of humor at our weekly playgroup, and, over time, we started getting together more regularly.
We talked about everything: our kids, our husbands, juicy neighborhood gossip. A few years after we met, my husband and I relocated and, as it happened, our new home bordered my friend’s neighborhood: We now had only a house and some trees separating us. For years, our families shared holiday barbecues, long evenings at local restaurants, and play dates on rainy days.
In all the time I spent with my friend, oddly, politics never came up. Though we’d talk about current affairs, I never once said to her, “Hey, what candidates do you support?” And she never asked me about my political affiliation. Though it seems naive now, our politics just didn’t seem relevant in the thick of raising kids next to a friend whom I adored.
During the buildup to the 2016 election, I started to notice cracks on what I thought was the thick veneer of our friendship. Some of her social media posts and comments made me realize that her political views differed from mine. Though it was hard to see the election from the lens of the other party, I tried. I listened to the friends who felt strongly in opposition to my views, and I did my best when I was with my friend to hear her out.
The 2016 election made me realize, though, that your friendships aren’t always what they seem, no matter how tight the relationship feels.
And, though the months leading up to the election were difficult and resulted in awkward holidays for many friends and family afterward, I was determined to see my relationships and friendships through.
My friend felt otherwise, unfortunately.
On the day after the election, she left a hurtful, hateful comment under one of my social media posts. She said she felt personally attacked by me for months because of my political views, adding terrible things about my family’s reaction to the election.
And I was blindsided.
While I knew she felt differently politically, I trusted that she still loved me as a friend. I mistakenly assumed she was affording me the same grace I was trying to extend to her during the months leading up to the election.
I trusted that she thought enough of our friendship to tell me I’d hurt her feelings, however unintentional.
I was wrong.
And while I was vocally supportive of my candidate, I expressed my views pointedly at the general opposition. I was sharing my views so that others who agreed knew they weren’t alone.
I never once considered that my friend was reading my opinions as a personal attack because she never said a word to me. In fact, a month before the election, we spent time together at a town zoning board meeting and she gave no indication that our friendship was on the verge of collapse.
She, on the other hand, chose to end our friendship in a public way one month later, much to my complete surprise.
I was humiliated and hurt and, to this day, we’ve never spoken another word to each other.
In the days after her verbal assault, I considered knocking on her door to hash things out in person, but I shied away. I didn’t have the courage to be further humiliated face-to-face. And, as the months dragged into years with no word from her, I’ve resigned myself to the notion that we weren’t as close as I thought.
Our friendship is over, and it wasn’t my choice.
But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll always miss her — even if we didn’t see eye to eye.