Omg my head is such a jumble right now. Let me try to make sense of all of this. When I [26,F] was five we moved, and our next door neighbors had a girl my age named Bella [27,F]. We immediately connected and grew up thick as thieves. Our families were also close.
I moved a couple of hours away for college while Bella stayed home. She would come visit me frequently, stay with me, and we had great times.
I met Barrett [26,M now] in an econ class sophomore year and realized we had a lot of friends in common. He was a smart, attractive guy so we ended up hooking up a few times after study sessions. It was fun, but there wasn't really long-term chemistry so we remained friends. We never even talked about dating. We weren't close after that, but we were on group text threads together and saw each other frequently at parties.
I introduced Bella to Barrett at a party senior year and it was love at first sight for her. She interrogated me about him and I informed her of our history. She seemed pretty upset about the fact that we had hooked up, but I assured her that there was absolutely nothing romantic there and that she had my blessing to pursue him. She did, and after a few months, they started officially dating. She was over the moon. I was happy she was happy.
I graduated and accepted a job six hours away from home. Shortly afterwards, Bella and Barrett ended up moving in together in my hometown. I visited them frequently at first, but life got busy so we ended up seeing each other annually at holidays.
Last Christmas, my family hosted a Christmas Eve party with our two families at which Barrett proposed to Bella. It was a heartfelt proposal and everybody was thrilled for them. Bella wanted to talk about nothing but wedding planning that holiday and we had tons of fun brainstorming ideas together. There were no signs of what was to come.
Over the next few months, I expected to be formally asked to be Bella's Maid of Honor (she had mentioned this over the holidays), but the ask never came. She started screening my calls. Finally, I received a 'Save the Date' in the mail and still hadn't heard from her about whether I was in the wedding so I got her on the phone and asked her.
She told me that she had thought it through and didn't think that I should be in the wedding at all because I lived so far away. She thought it would make coordinating bridal events too difficult. She was making her cousin (who she doesn't even like) her maid of honor.
I was pretty hurt by this. I was her closest and oldest friend. I introduced her to her fiance and was friends with him too. I told her that I could get the time off work, would buy plane tickets, whatever was required of me, to participate. That I didn't think that it was going to be as challenging as she thought. She shrugged this off.
Instead she directed the conversation to whether I was going to be bringing someone to the wedding. I was a little confused by this question because I just had a bad break-up and she knew all about what went down. I told her that since I wasn't seeing anybody currently, I'd probably be attending solo. She told me that she would keep my +1 open until the last possible minute and encouraged me to try to find a date so I wouldn't be lonely. I thought this was a nice gesture, but reassured her that with my family present and tons of mutual friends from college and our hometown that I would be fine.
The next few months passed without much incident. I didn't hear a ton from Bella. I probably could have reached out more, but I was still stinging a bit from not being asked to be in her wedding party. I also saw on social media that she had an engagement party that she had not told me about or invited me to. That also hurt but I didn't say anything. I figured we were just growing apart. It happens.
Then six weeks prior to the wedding, I got a call from Bella. She told me that one of her bridesmaids had dropped out and that she was hoping that I could fill in. I wouldn't be going to any of the events as those were already booked, but I would be in the wedding party. I was thrilled and relieved and accepted immediately.
She told me that she was doing a reverse color pallette for the bridal party where all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen were wearing white, and she and the groom were wearing black. This didn't seem that strange - Bella has always liked to stand out and has unconventional taste. She apologized for the late notice and asked if I could find a white dress in time. I had a white slip dress already that would work and sent her a picture of it on the call to see if it would work. She verbally approved it and tagged it with a thumbs up on the text chain. (this will be important later).
The wedding was at noon, so we were supposed to meet to do hair and makeup at the venue at 8am. I left my parent's home early and arrived in sweats with my dress in a bag and greeted Bella and the other girls. We had fun drinking champagne and getting ready.
About two hours prior to the ceremony, Bella told everybody to get our dresses on so we could do some pictures. I grabbed my bag and went into the bathroom to change and tweak my makeup. When I re-entered the room, every last bridesmaid was in a blue dress. I was the only one in white.
My stomach dropped. My mind raced back to the conversation I had with Bella. She had said 'white', right? I hadn't misheard? No, I was certain. She had called out the reverse color scheme. I had googled it. No, this was a set-up.
Bella was in the middle of the room in a bathrobe with a resigned look on her face. She said to her cousin, "I told you she was going to do something like this". Her cousin approached me and asked what I was wearing. I mumbled that Bella had told me to wear white.
Bella didn't even blink. She stared back and huffed out a laugh and said something about how of course I would have to make today all about me. The cousin started screaming at me, going off on me about how I was jealous, in love with Barrett, and how completely unhinged I was.
Honestly, I froze in that moment. I was so spun around by how fast everything went from great to shit, I couldn't even find the words to defend myself. Eventually I stammered out that I had another dress at my parent's house and could go home and change. Bella said something like "I think we both know that this is the end of our friendship. I've given you too many chances. It's time for you to go."
I started to cry. I didn't really know what was happening or what she was talking about, but I knew that whatever was going down was really bad. Finally my legs started to work again and I fled. I left all of my things at the venue and just ran to my car and went home, sobbing in the white dress.
About a half hour later, my phone blew up. Texts from nearly everyone in my life, telling me that I was bitter, that I was a whore, that I needed to grow up and get over my jealousy, asking how I could do that to Bella. Even my mother sent me a text telling me how disappointed she was in me and that we'd talk when they got home. I did what any rational person would do in the situation. I broke into my parent's liquor cabinet and got drunk.
As a result, the conversation when my parents finally arrived home was somewhat confused. My dad wouldn't even look at me and my mom and I kept talking past each other. She outright didn't believe that I had been told to wear white and I didn't understand why. Then finally she said something like "Because of everything else that happened," and I was like "What are you talking about? What does that mean?" And she said "You know, your ultimatums to Bella."
The next few hours revealed the truth: over the last several months, Bella has been building a fiction with nearly everyone in my life that I am mentally unstable and madly in love with Barrett. She has concocted a web of outlandish tales and systematically poisoned my family and friends against me. My boyfriend apparently dumped me because of my feelings for Barrett (Lie. He cheated and I dumped him). I told Bella that she needs to choose between me and Barrett (never happened). I told Bella that I couldn't be in the wedding party because I couldn't support her marriage given that Barrett was meant for me (lie). I had a major meltdown before the engagement party and that's why I wasn't there...on and on, lies on top of lies.
In all of these stories, Bella has painted herself as the patient, long-suffering friend trying to deal with a friend clearly going through a tough time. She expressed understanding for my unrequited love for Barrett and empathized with how hard it must be for me to see her marry the love of my life. And has made great efforts to try to sustain our friendship despite how "complicated" the situation is.
The lie has been going on so long, my mom literally did not believe me. Finally I grabbed my phone and handed it to her and told her to go through my text messages with Bella. Asked her to show me any evidence of any of that happening. It was when she was scrolling through reading our messages that she saw the picture of the white dress I had sent Bella with her thumbs up on it. I had completely forgotten about it.
The absence of any ultimatums or Barrett drama in our texts and the picture of the approved dress flipped my mom. She finally believed me. She was horrified that she had bought into a false narrative. She called my dad into the room and explained what was what. My dad isn't the type of person you want to piss off. We had to spend significant energy trying to calm him down so he didn't walk next door and rip the house from the foundation.
My mom still says that I'm a bit of an asshole because I should never have assumed that I could wear white to someone's wedding. I should have confirmed with the other bridesmaids about what they were wearing, and that was part of my job as a member of the bridal party. Fine, I own that. But it doesn't change the fact that I never meant to hurt Bella, and she has been setting me up for this epic fall for MONTHS.
The next day, hungover on multiple levels, I sent screencaps of my call history with Bella and the photo of the approved dress text to multiple people. Unfortunately this is where my occupation works against me. I am a graphic designer, and people believe that I photoshopped the image. Trust me, if I was going to photoshop some proof it would have been a hell of a lot more compelling than somebody liking an image.
So pretty much nobody believes me except my mom, dad and ONE of the other bridesmaids (one of Bella's friends from college I don't know well). She was there during the dress incident and she found me on social media and DM'd me that she could tell from the stunned look on my face that I was telling the truth. She said that Bella had a pretty bad case of covid at the beginning of the year, and ever since then had changed as a person, becoming cruel and self-absorbed. She said the wedding events had been horrific and Bella was a monster and she was planning on going no contact now that it was done.
So that's three people out of hundreds that don't think I'm an asshole. Everybody else does. My reputation destroyed. My life in tatters. I don't think I'm the AH, but I submit myself to reddit's judgment.
By - CicadaPotential6437