The Devastating Experience of Losing A Best Friend
There seems to come a time in every young adult’s life when friends start to drop like flies. You go from having a plethora of best friends, good friends, and acquaintances to only having a core group of people in your life. This is all very well and good (cutting the fat can be necessary and whoever’s still meant to be in your life will continue to be there, right?), but it’s still a dreadful traumatizing experience that no one seems to ever talk about. Everywhere you turn, there are movies being produced and books being written about breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Oh, the horrors! You lie in bed, eat ice cream, talk shit with your girlfriends, and start sleeping with someone else. This Hollywood version of “grieving” can even be done entirely in a montage set to a KT Turnstall song. A dumped person is seen as a totally tragic sympathetic figure and is given the appropriate support to help “make it through.”
When friendships end, when the ten-year bonds you have with someone who feels like family start to dissolve, we’re left with no instruction manuals. We don’t have a movie to turn to or a book to read. Pop culture has pushed it under the rug. You can vent to your other friends who will undoubtedly take your side, you can feel really bad for awhile and maybe even cry at work. People will understand because, oh my god, “breaking up” with a best friend can sometimes feel worse than breaking up with a significant other!
Yeah, it can. So why is it never really discussed? In theory, close friendships are supposed to be everlasting. They’re built to survive your lovers (and maybe even your husband or wife) and glide with you to the finish line. Best friends are not meant to have a lot of baggage because they’re a respite from all of the other bullshit you have going on in your life. They’re the anti-baggage.
When a relationship ends, it sort of makes sense. People fall out of love with another, situations change, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. Your lovers come in to your life at a certain time and you give what the other one needs. Sometimes they’ll want what you’re giving them forever and sometimes they won’t. Even though breakups are terrible and earth shattering, they almost feel a little less personal than the end of a close friendship. I mean, there are countless movies, TV shows and books about this, remember? They’re a fact of life. It’s not you, I swear, it’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
But the end of a friendship is all about you. It’s nothing but you. It’s almost like a personal attack on your character. Someone who once thought of you as a beautiful soul now sees some ugly in you. They wanted to talk to you everyday and now they’re willfully distancing themselves. Meanwhile, you’re left thinking, “What did I do wrong? Where’s my partner in crime? Why don’t you want to be a part of my life anymore? I planned on you having e a major role and now you’re reducing yourself to a cameo.” There are no easy answers and certainly none can be found in a Jennifer Aniston movie. By the way, when Jen Aniston doesn’t want to address your life issues in a blockbuster movie, that’s when you know you’re dealing with some heavy stuff.
Instead, the friendship just dies. Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s scary how easy it can happen, how simple it is to disconnect yourself from someone’s life. You just remove the plug. Bye bye.
When I think of all the people who once meant everything to me and now mean nothing, I get a little sick to my stomach. I wonder how it could’ve happened and why things couldn’t have stayed the same. And then I remember that just like the dissolution of a relationship, friendships are casualties of time. I mean, time is the silent killer of everything. It chips away at things that were once thriving. Tick tock, chip chip. And it will continue to do so. You just have to understand that time will preserve the special relationships. It won’t kill anyone off who’s not meant to be killed off. It’s hard to come to terms with that realization though when you’re in the thick of all the relationship death and all you would like to do is call up your old best friend again and tell them about your day.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.