Last week my best friend broke up with me. I say “broke-up” because that’s the closest thing that can describe the abrupt discontinuation of our friendship. There was no big fight, no dramatic walk-out or final straw that ended it all, at least not for me; all I know is that one minute we’re sitting on my bed talking about work, our careers and boys and the next she just decided never to talk to me again.
I didn’t know it right away. In hindsight I guess I should have suspected something was wrong when I didn’t hear from her for a few days. I sent a text asking about hanging out in the city for the weekend and in reply she wrote, “I’m out of town” and that was it. Later, when I finally got a chance to meet-up with the third peg in our trio friend group, I learned that I had, in fact, been dumped by a girl I considered one of my closest friends. It stung, perhaps made even worse by the fact that I wasn’t even hearing it from the horses mouth but instead ghosted, benched, and disregarded in the same manner that we often complained about when discussing the status of our current flames-of-the-month.
At first I was angry – the shock and utter incomprehensibleness of it all left me at a loss for words. “I’m just so hurt.” I kept saying over and over again while letting the reality of it slowly sink it. This had been someone I thought of as my best friend and sister in life. Our group texts could have wrapped around the globe and my mind flashed through all of my most recent happiest memories, the majority of which included her. She was the person I could call for any reason at any time and with very little effort could self-identify with many of my most pressing stressors.
I had imagined her in my wedding party, pictured her bringing over-sized bears to the birth of my children and gabbing over too much wine at every important juncture in our lives. I had thought the feelings were mutual, that nothing would separate our friendship and yet there I was, being told by someone else that it was all over.
It felt like a break-up. After a few days of shrugging it off, the weight of hit me during a particularly stressful day at work and I completely lost it. The complexities of my life in that moment felt too big to handle and yet, one of the few people who could usually talk me through it was now not answering my calls. Tears streamed down my face as I replayed our last few conversations over and over. I expected this from a guy, I was prepared to be let down and disappointed by someone who only casually knew me over dinner or after a few fun dates ending in sex. But I wasn’t prepared or expecting it from someone I trusted most, who knew me deeply and who I had spent countless hours with talking, laughing, and sharing adventures with.
It wasn’t like I was the greatest at making new friends. As an adult, the number of friends you make who you don’t work with or already know from the past are few and far between, and I was horrible at it. But I was always less apt at making adult friends than everyone others based on my genuine dislike of most people. I would look enviously at the many females on my Facebook newsfeed posing with one another at various events. I constantly worried that the merger 4-5 close friends I did have would not suffice if I were to get married and have an actual bridal party. I tended not to think about and spent most of my time being grateful for the few friendships I did have.
…and then I met K, B & M, three friends that changed it all. For the very first time I had a female group of girlfriends that I truly felt connected with. They fell in my lap and we jokingly referred to ourselves as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood when people asked. I finally began to realize why people say a core group of female friends (as a woman) is what sustains you as an adult. The reason is because true female friends support you and act as a therapist, nurse, and teacher when called upon.
They love you for you and are the people you want to be around on a Saturday night as well as on Sunday morning when you’re hungover and unbelievably unattractive. Those types of relationships are important – maybe even more important than romantic relationships. Finding a tribe and loving them hard is what sustains us in times of happiness and crisis and finding the right people to fill that tribe usually takes decades and year to build.
Which is why last week, when my best friend broke up with me, my heart broke, and I realized I might never be the same again.