We had been best friends for 21 years — the longest friendship I’d ever managed to keep in my 21-year-old life. We’d grown up together, and as a result, we knew everything there was to know about each other: our favorite movies, our darkest secrets, every crush we’d ever fangirled over. We were the friends who texted each other the moment something happened, whether that was our first kiss or our first break up, who planned a future where our kids would marry one another and eventually send us to the same nursing home where we’d grow old together.
We were best friends, twin flames, two sides of the same coin. And then, suddenly, we weren’t friends anymore.
We have a tendency to talk about the heartbreak of losing a significant other but rarely talk about the heartbreak of losing a friend. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes it hurts more, because friends are the ones who are supposed to be with you through all the break ups, all the heartbreaks, all the ups and the downs. But who do you go to when the person you rely on is the one who hurt you the most?
Getting over it isn’t easy. You find yourself checking your phone every few minutes just hoping for a text. Even when you don’t want to hear from them. Even if you’re not sure you’ll reply. Sometimes you just want the affirmation that they cared as much as you did, that they’re thinking of you too. Sometimes it never comes.
You see them in public and freeze up, your voice caught in your throat. Do you say hi? Do you ask how they are? Do you just keep walking and pretend you didn’t see them at all? What’s the protocol for this situation? You settle with a tight smile and avert your eyes quickly. You keep walking. They don’t stop you.
You find yourself replying to other people with inside jokes they can’t understand. You wish you could reach out and tell them about it. Actually, you wish you could reach out every time you think about them, like when you saw the trailer of a movie you know they’d love or when their favorite artist got caught up in a scandal. You’re so used to telling them everything that your automatic response it to open up your messages and start drafting a text. Afterwards, you delete it.
But that doesn’t stop you from reading old messages, scrolling back months and months, all the way back when things were still OK. You look through old photos and you’re not sure if you want to laugh or cry. You think about deleting everything. You don’t. Not yet.
You think about reaching out to them again. You write out another message. Delete, delete, delete. Why do you even try anymore?
Your mother asks about how they are. You lie and say you’ve both been busy and you haven’t seen them in a while. You run into old acquaintances in a bar who ask you where they are. You lie and say they couldn’t come out. Your other friends ask if you’ll ever forgive them. You lie and say you don’t know.
You send them messages when you’re drunk and it feels like a good idea but they never respond. You wake up mid-hangover and decide it’s probably for the best.
You see them in public and you stop reacting at all.
And eventually you start giving up the guise. You tell your mom you don’t talk to them anymore, you tell old acquaintances you haven’t seen them in a while, you tell your friends you’ll probably never be friends with them again.
You stare at their number on your phone for what feels like hours. You debate the pros and cons of keeping it. But your head hurts and it makes you so, so sad, so you give up and turn off your phone.
You start to realize that maybe, it’s not all your fault. You feel a little lighter.
And you grow. You move on. You stop associating their favorite songs with them. You don’t write them messages anymore. You don’t stalk them on Instagram. You don’t freeze up when someone says their name. You start to forget the inside jokes. At least, you don’t think about them so much.
You delete their text log, you delete their number, but you stop yourself from deleting the photos. Because even though you’ve deleted them from your life, you don’t want to forget the memories.