1. Notice something painful festering within you. It sits at the bottom of your stomach and, most of the time, you can push it into a corner. A smaller space. Some place where it’s not quite as evident. Maybe you even forget it’s there. For a while.
2. Keep suppressing the feeling. Ignore the signs that something that should be good is making you unhappy. Bury it deeper and decide it’s your problem.
3. Decide it’s all your problem. All of it. The way they criticize you in benign moments. Remember how oversensitive you can be. Chalk it up to that. The way their jokes stop being funny and start just feeling cruel. Maybe you’re just the one who lost a sense of humor.
4. Pull away in tiny moments. Don’t understand why exactly you’re doing it, but note how it keeps happening. You are slower to respond. You suddenly don’t run to them with good news. You’re rewriting your life, and their part isn’t quite as monumental as it once was.
5. Instantly feel guilt-ridden. Feel sick and like you’re a terrible person. You don’t deserve happiness or kindness, look what you’re doing to a supposed friend?! Curse yourself for how easily you withdraw instead of just saying how you feel. Curse yourself for all of it.
6. Try to formulate the right words. The ones that will explain the unexplainable. That you need a break or an ending, something that seems a whole lot more defined in romantic relationships.
7. Google stupid sentences like, “How do I break up with my friend?” Land on Yahoo answers. Get a few giggles in at the stupidity on your screen before realizing you’re wasting your time. You’re delaying the inevitable.
8. Think back on when it was good. When you laughed together until you cried, when it seemed like this was the kind of person who would always have your back. Wonder if it could ever be like that again. If you could just get back to when it made sense.
9. Remember how those moments, while always treasured, didn’t erase the others. When they needed to constantly be right, couldn’t take even a second to consider you knew something they didn’t. When they poked and prodded and pushed until you found yourself running. When your fight or flight instinct kicked in, and all you wanted was to work it out. To listen. To be heard.
10. Discover the heartbreaking truth that some things aren’t meant to last forever. Some things are better off as chapters.