I have decided to ignore her message.
It's not so much the incident that blew up our friendship that bothers me. What she did to me was painful and uncalled for, but it was 20 years ago. People can change and grow. At the time that our friendship ended, she was suffering from agoraphobia. She's married now (her last name is hyphenated). So I hope that she got therapy or perhaps spiritual guidance and has found herself on track to a more fulfilling life.
Here's what her email said, in total: "A lot of time has passed--I never read your last letter-felt I would hear things I didn't want to keep in my head/heart. Interested in how you are."
My last letter, written 20 years ago when the incident was fresh, explained in no uncertain terms how hurt I was that she not only accused me of something I would never do, but also that she waited to kick me when I was down. It's bad enough that she threw it away unread, thereby denying me the right to be heard. It's worse that she felt the need to tell me she did it.
I know how it feels to hear things I "didn't want to keep in my head/heart." Like hearing her say that she believed I hit on her boyfriend, and somehow went behind her back to expose their clandestine relationship to her sister. (Her lover once slept with Judy's sister, who considered Judy's action a betrayal; I don't know all the details because, honestly, I wasn't involved.)
Judy made bad choices 20 years ago and blamed me when they blew up on her. Blamed me when I was frightened and bedridden when they blew up on her. I resent that, but I could get over it.
What I can't get past is that she still seems to be operating without concern for the feelings of others. I had a right to be heard -- a need to be heard -- by someone I trusted who hurt me. Yet even now it seems her "wants" still supersede mine.
I have a lot of flaws. I can be short-tempered, impatient and undisciplined. But I AM an involved friend.
What I don't have, to borrow from Carly Simon, is time for the pain. Or the drama that comes from being in the sphere of someone who apparently is still a little low on empathy.
Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this. It was good to take advantage of the objective sounding board this blog offers me. I'm genuinely grateful to each of you.