To the boy who broke my heart
The Greeks described love in seven different ways. There is sexual love, love between spouses, love of a child. The way I loved you they described as philia, the love of the mind. It is a sincere, platonic type of love shared between close friends. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough for you.
Before this, I wasn’t even aware this type of pain existed. You’re exposed to all types of heartache through media, friends, and personal experiences. I expect to hurt when a romantic relationship ends, or when times are tough with family members. The last place I thought I would be hurt was with you.
A few weeks ago, I called you on the way home from a date–normal. We talked about our days and I told you a little about conversations I had had with my boyfriend. Something that I said must have set you off even if you didn’t show it. We ended the call halfway through my drive, and when I was home, I texted for you to call again.
This would be the last conversation we had.
Eighteen years ago in fifth grade, you were the new kid. I was a shy kid with only a few friends, but thought I would have a chance to befriend you, the equally quiet new kid. Little did we know that this would blossom into a friendship which would last almost two decades. We created our own little world in which we escaped realities of life. In true nerd fashion, we created characters with detailed storylines that reflected our own best and worst qualities. We posited what these imaginary selves would do in different situations, how they would react, where they would go.
Through the darkest times of our lives, we were each other’s safe place. The idea that “you can’t stop being my best friend because you know too much” rang all too true when it came to us. I was there when your grandfather died, and when your sister passed away. You talked me through the tears of my first break up, fights between my parents, and the heartache my sister put me through last year. To me, you were family. I loved you like I loved them, even when we fought.
I had always assumed you felt the same.
Of course, you would get weird with me whenever I dated. You didn’t like to talk about relationships or dating, always changing the topic of conversation. I tried not to give this much thought. We were best friends. We talked about everything, but if my romantic relationships were uncomfortable for you, so be it.
I recall a painful conversation on the phone a few years ago, where you cried to me about your grandmother’s passing, about your feelings towards me, how it made you feel when I wondered aloud if this boyfriend was going to be “the one.”
I didn’t apologize for my relationship, but I tried my best to comfort you. The notion of “friend-zone” I hated, so instead I reminded you that I needed you as my best friend, loved you as my best friend, and couldn’t see you as anything else. When you said you understood, I thought that was the end of it.
The subject was never broached again. We went on with life as normal, escaping into our little world when things were too rough. Venting about work, friends, and family. I could send you a new favorite song, a funny photograph, a screenshot of a thoughtful post. You did the same. Some days our messages were made solely up of gifs or memes or pictures, no words necessary.
The day that it happened, I was feeling great. My new relationship was moving forward, my parents were doing well, and work was in a good place. I was looking to the next few weeks. Holidays were coming up. You’d just gotten a new dog, and my Christmas present was going to revolve around a “Dog Father” t-shirt or sweater. The items were already in my Amazon cart.
“I don’t think we should talk anymore.”
Ninety percent of the conversation is a blurr, but those seven words are seared into my mind. To end the call suddenly meant to end the connection forever. I was numb as I put down the phone. Had that really just happened?
In my room, I cried. I cried on the phone with a friend, cried into my pillow, cried as I scrolled through the days messages desperately trying to find some sign that I had missed. Of course, there was none. I didn’t understand your explanation. I didn’t think I ever would.
When the crying was over, I was angry. How dare you make the decision for both of us? How could you be so selfish, so mean? Why would you hurt me like this?
It began to sink in over the next week. There were no messages, no calls–nothing. A thousand times a day I checked my phone and each time it vibrated, I hoped it was you, reaching out to talk things over. The time I had once spent talking with you I suddenly had to fill, and nothing was enough.
Scrolling through social media was difficult. Over and over I would see a photograph, an article, a song that you would appreciate, but I couldn’t send them to you. I would hear a new comedian’s routine and know you’d find it as funny as I had, but you weren’t there to see it. Even now I break a tiny bit inside for those inside jokes and references only you could understand.
Television even was too much. Shows we used to watch together I couldn’t bear to look at. I didn’t have any friends who liked the same things, who were as into the characters and storylines and accuracy to sources as we were. New seasons I’d anticipated, I refused to watch. New shows we had looked forward to I deleted off of my DVR.
Suddenly there was a whole side of me I could no longer access. Where were you to help talk me down when the anxiety was too high? Where were you when I needed you? A piece of my life had died with that last goodbye, and I did not know how to handle.
I still don’t. Some days are better than others. And when I remind myself that our friendship had to end for you to move forward, I feel a little better, because that means you’ll be happy. I miss you. I want the best for you, I will forever cheer you on, and I will always love you.