I recently came across two articles, where both spoke of ending relationships with a best friend (BFF) for various reasons. I could not help but to reflect on my own experience of simultaneously losing two friends in the same moment.
“I am sorry,” were the last words that I typed in the email. After sending the email to my now-former best friend, I realized I lost two best friends in the same moment and I was helpless to change the outcome.
Danielle and Evan were both my near and dear friends so when I introduced them to each other and encouraged them to date each other I never in my life fathomed an act of kindness would leave me broken, depressed and contemplating suicide.
This journey started in high school where I met Evan my sophomore year. Evan was a good friend who I adored yet I never had faith in the potential of us succeeding beyond friends, hence I kept him as a friend and treated him like family. My mother called Evan her one and only white son and in return he lovingly called her mom or “ma.” In high school our friendship was very close. During my first year of college, a possessive, abusive, and intolerable boyfriend demanded I distance myself from all male friends. My friendship with Evan was forever altered. The tumultuous relationship with my ex-boyfriend ended in the summer after my first year of college and my relationship with Evan was uniquely distant, yet comforting. We coasted through my undergraduate years and remained close. We managed a semester happy hour when I visited Maryland from Pennsylvania. When I started graduate school, I strongly encouraged Evan to talk to my best friend from college and he agreed. Enter the beginning of Danielle and Evan.
Danielle was the little sister I’d always wanted and we even resembled each other a little bit. I met Danielle my first year of college while walking to convocation. I immediately thought, This girl is amazing and we should be friends. Danielle was adored by us all and our friendship blossomed into a sisterly bond that was honest, open, and endearing. If you would have told me that our friendship would unravel after being friends for almost 10 years, I would have called you a liar and a cheat. I never saw the shitstorm headed my way until it was too late.
One reason for our friendship eventually dying a swift death was due to a student loan. During my senior year of college, I was applying to graduate school, dating, studying and living the life of an adolescent trying to convert to an adult. It was during my last year of college that Danielle asked me to cosign for a student loan to assist her with completing her degree. Danielle needed the support; she had lost a parent after freshmen year and never returned to our school. I managed to stay in touch with her and offered support anyway I could because I loved her as if she was my sister. The loan was for $10,000, and as a first generation college student, I did not understand the stipulations of a cosigning for a loan until years later. I felt such a need to help Danielle in spite of my good sense. She needed the love and support. When Danielle’s parent died it was almost like a piece of her left and never came back and even though our group of friends offered their best efforts of support, she became unique in reference to her interpersonal skills such as be forgetful, distant. and cold at times.
I graduated from undergraduate school with a decent amount of debt, but headed straight to graduate school in hopes of a salary that would cover my adult life. The trouble began my first year of graduate school when the letters started: “Payment is late,” “Delinquent,” “We can we expect payment,” and so forth. I called Danielle who brushed off the letters with such ease it was unnerving. She always denied any wrongdoing and reassured me it was the error of the loan company and promised me not to worry. I trusted her because she was like a sister. The letters continued on a daily basis for two years. I saved each letter and sent the loan company a cease and desist order to stop the letters because my mother was beginning to become suspicious. The letters stopped, but I had this overwhelming feeling I was screwed.
Months after I finished my Master’s degree the calls started again and they were fast and furious. The loan company called me daily, during all hours and it began to disrupt my sessions with clients. Danielle continued to deny any wrongdoing, but something felt wrong. I felt like I was watching a ball fly toward my face, I was tense and aware yet completely helpless and bracing myself for the pain.
Danielle and Evan were in love. I was in love with my now fiancé and life seemed great. A mutual friend of Danielle and I began to notice that whenever me and Evan caught up over happy hour or decided to hangout, Danielle posted passive-aggressive social media statuses stating people need to learn boundaries and never trust a woman. It went on this way for months. I finally confronted Danielle and she denied it all. Still I could not but help to feel as if I was falling without a parachute and the ground was getting closer.
I called the loan company and debated a payment history which they stated could not be provided via the phone, but they could provide the payment history via mail. Three days later, I learned Danielle lied about it all. The loan I cosigned for is now $25,000 due to late fees, delinquency and interest. It felt like I ran into a wall. It was devastating, but I thought I could fix this. My ability to be loyal and hopeful was, and always has been my downfall.
I emailed Danielle who is a conflict-avoidant individual similar to myself, and I was positive that we could fix this. I was so wrong. Danielle laid into me with accusations of visiting Evan sporadically and calling at all hours of night. Danielle insisted I was selfish, lying, and downright awful. I searched for all the words to fix it, but I could only find dull rage. Somehow I managed to apologize for the inconsideration which I owned. I know Danielle’s boyfriend, Evan, lied about the calls and the visits because they never happened. Eventually Danielle stopped responding to calls, texts, and emails. Evan vanished with Danielle without a word.
I felt like the world came to a halt. I felt permanently damaged and interpersonally raped. I trusted no one after Danielle and Evan left my life. I cried myself to sleep and walked around in a haze for two years. I accepted the fact that this loan is now my responsibility and this is my life. I feel forever labeled as the woman who carries the shame and guilt of being a good friend, and paying the price of being too kind.
Five years later, I have sued Danielle for my payments on the loan and won. However, she is not working so you cannot collect money from an unemployed person. The father of her two beautiful children, Evan, works for the government and writes about sports for a large university. Last I checked, they lived in an apartment I will never afford because of that wonderful loan that Danielle so kindly left me with for the next 20 years. For a brief and fleeting moment, I imagined it would be easier to die to no longer have to deal with it all. All I could see was the loan, the heartbreak of losing two people who I imagined being a part of my life forever, and the betrayal. Few friends and family know about the loan and it just always tastes like vinegar when I rehash the ordeal. I feel as though I constantly have on a shirt that says, “This woman is a fool, a gullible stupid and idiotic fool.” Each year it gets a little bit better. I go to therapy, I try to go to yoga and not feel judged for having shitty balance, and I go forward.
The loss of best friend can truly feel similar to ending a romantic relationship or divorce. You imagine the day when you wake up without regret. You look back and wonder, “how could I have missed that?” I would love to say that the end of the pain is near but it’s hard. There is an infinite hole and your life goes forward to build around the hole. Relationships are rejuvenated, risks are taken and love is found. I am moving forward each and day and trying to relieve myself of the sadness, shame and hurt but like all important things in life it takes time.