Everyone knows the heartbreak of being broken up with, or breaking up with someone. It’s a feeling none of us would wish on anyone. Pain, as potent as can be, washes over every minute and every moment of your life, and you aren’t quite sure when you’ll come up for air again.
Nobody really tells you though, about losing a friend. It’s often overlooked because it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal. Because “friend breakups,” let’s call them, usually don’t happen.
Sometimes friends will just grow apart, move to different cities, only to come together again years later to catch up over lunch. Sometimes the years dissolve before them in the laughter of each memory shared, and the memory of a friendship from long ago is so easily picked up right where it left off. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes, friend breakups happen, and they can be the most painful of all.
When I lost my best friend, it felt like a break up with my longest relationship.
When I lost my best friend, I cried. Actually, I cried before it even happened, I cried the first moment I knew it was going to happen. A wave of sadness from the loss I knew was coming overwhelmed me, and I felt empty. This person knows almost everything about me, more than any romantic partner I’ve ever had. They were my partner in crime, adventure, and endless laughter for close to a decade. With a few sentences, they could unravel my entire life and my deepest, darkest secrets. They know the depths of my soul, every corner of my heart, and all the crazy, beautiful, and intricate thoughts in my mind. Knowing I was about to lose her was one of my most vulnerable and painful moments.
In my particular case, my best friend was no longer acting like her title, but I cannot blame her entirely for our falling out. Could I have stayed by her side regardless of the harsh words we shared? I could have, yes. But that was a decision I could not make for my own self-respect and health. There was no longer anything I could do to save the friendship, I knew the end had come. We decided we could not continue the friendship, but that didn’t stop the pain.
With our days of self-consuming social media, I began to be reminded every day of my memories with her from one, two, seven, nine years ago; each of them a burst of laughter followed by the urge to send them to her, followed by sadness, sometimes followed by tears. I would see something online that she would laugh at, something in Target that she would love. I would drive by our favorite restaurant, or our high school. A decade of friendship contains a lot of memories, all of them now a faint sting to the heart.
I was angry, then I would be sad, then I would feel acceptance, then I would be annoyed, then I would feel betrayed, and then I would feel at peace. I was a roller coaster of mood swings at all times. I would look at her Facebook and feel annoyed seeing her interactions with others, I would look at her Instagram and then feel sad when I realized she wasn’t following me anymore. The disconnect from her felt wrong every time I thought about it, but that’s the unfortunate thing about friendships – sometimes, like relationships, they just don’t work out. This is someone I thought would stand next to me at my wedding, someone who would be in the delivery room with me one day. Our daughters were going to be best friends too, and we would be eating Taco Bell together on the porch when we were 80.
I am happy in my life, I can say that with confidence and completeness, but she is still the missing part that hurts. I still do those things and I still feel those ways. I still have moments of anger, sadness and betrayal; but most of all I just wish her happiness. I miss her family and her pets, her laugh and her capability to care. I’ll miss her showing up on my birthday with balloons at 7am, and I’ll miss planning her birthday four months in advance. I am hopeful that maybe one day we can be the long lost friends who meet up and reminisce on the good times, but I don’t expect it anytime soon. I try to turn the hurt I feel into gratitude, which is all I really can do. If she reads this, I don’t wish her sadness or guilt; I just hope she knows that I wish her well and I am thinking about her. Sometimes friends aren’t friends forever, but if it’s meant to be, one day it will be again.