The Pain Of A Broken Friendship Is Like Nothing I've Ever Known Before
A few months ago, I lost my best friend. We had a falling out, and she chose to end communication. I chose not to chase her. We have not spoken again.
I loved her. We spent years as the best of friends. We went on vacation together, drove each other to doctor’s appointments, laughed and cried. Sometimes, I laughed when she cried. Every single movie moved her to tears. I used joke that she would cry at an electronic billboard if she looked at it too long. She used to joke that she wasn’t crying too much; I just wasn’t crying enough.
We laughed all the time.
And now we don’t.
The details of the end are private, and even if I could manage to fit them all here, you’d probably still be confused. The unraveling of a friendship is not as simple as a list of facts on a timeline. There is no way to condense the emotions in a way that would let you begin to understand how this happened.
We found ourselves in an impossible situation. I was unable to be the friend she expected and felt she deserved. She was unable to see that what she was asking of me was unreasonable. I did my best to be the friend I could be without compromising my own integrity, but she didn’t see it that way. I wasn’t the person she felt she needed.
When she decided to end our friendship, I was upset, but I never even considered asking her to change her mind. For me, the sadness of the loss quickly gave way to anger — and that anger remains today. I am relieved to be free of expectations I know I would never have been able to meet. It was the right thing for us to go our separate ways. We are not meant to travel any more of life’s road together. That is clear.
The situation is irreparable. We will never be best friends again. I’ve made peace with that.
Her anger doesn’t define me. No matter how deeply she may believe it, I am not the person she decided I am when she got angry. The goodness in me didn’t evaporate when I stopped meeting her expectations. I am who I have always been.
My rational, intelligent side tells me that we are all the bad guy in someone’s story. Sometimes we deserve it. Sometimes we don’t. I can’t spend my life wondering if I should have done something different. I made my choices, I stand by them, and I feel sure that short of foreseeing the future, I couldn’t have done it differently.
Before our falling out, I’d never wondered whether I am a good person. Never. I’ve always been sure that I am kind and encouraging and loving. Perfect? God, no. Not even close. But good. Not malicious. Generous when I can be. I’ve always been sure of that.
But since my closest friendship ended, there’s a little space inside me where self-doubt lives. It was created when this situation broke my heart, and it hasn’t quite healed up yet. Once in a while, that tiny space feels so big, like an echoing cavern, and I am trapped inside, the reverberations of her assumptions assaulting my mind over and over. I start to doubt everything I’ve always known to be true about myself.
Sometimes, I start to wonder if my value decreased when she stopped seeing my worth.
A few nights ago, I saw a great meme about friendship, and I wanted to share it to my public page. I hesitated, thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t, just in case.”
Just in case? Just in case of what? In case one person who chooses to hate me is right, and everyone who loves me is wrong? In case it’s unfair to call myself a kind person or a good friend unless every single person on earth agrees with me?
Just in case she knows me better than I know myself? The thought is absurd.
I think this irritates me even more because I am rarely this kind of insecure. I recognize that I am so far from perfect, but I feel like I know myself so well. I’m sure that I’m fat and beautiful at the same time. I know I’m a great wife and an excellent mother to the family I’ve been given. I am fully confident in my ability to write a decent essay, cook a top-notch meal, and encourage other women of all sizes to see how gorgeous they are. I’m a pretty awful driver, a lot louder than your average person, impatient, anxious, and hopeless at staying on top of the laundry.
You won’t shake me on any of those things. Good or bad, my certainty about who I am is rock solid. It should be just as simple to apply that self-confidence to my character. But when you lose a relationship this close to you, your very core is shaken.
I’m angry that I even let my brain formulate the thought that her anger might mean I’m not as good as I once was. It’s frustrating that I haven’t yet been able to put these feelings of inadequacy completely behind me and come back around to the confidence I have always had in my heart and my intentions.
I’m disappointed to know that at 35 years old, something like this can shake a part of my identity. All the work I’ve put into loving who I’ve become feels fragile to me now, and I hate it.
I’m frustrated that I can’t make myself stay exclusively angry, because when I’m mad, I’m not sad.
But anger only gets me so far. In order to fully move past this, I have to let myself feel it as it comes. I can’t try to stuff down the pain in favor of anger. That will only make me bitter. Losing your best friend hurts, so sometimes, I let it hurt.
And even when I am hurting, I remind myself that I’m still worthy of pride, praise and appreciation.
Even if I couldn’t be the friend she wanted, I’m still worth loving, and I can still call myself a good friend.
Just because someone gets angry and makes accusations doesn’t mean they are true. Even if they were, I have no obligation to make everyone happy to my own detriment. I can set boundaries. I am allowed to do things that other people don’t like to preserve my own peace. I’m not here to please everyone but myself, then die. That’s not a life.
Despite all the anger and loss, I’ll never pretend the best parts of our friendship didn’t exist. About a year and half ago, I had a devastating missed miscarriage. During my recovery, she bought me a bracelet that said, “Beautiful girl, you can do hard things.” I wore it all the time, a reminder that I would make it, and I would get pregnant again. That message on that bracelet helped me believe that I could survive the wait.
She always believed I’d have my last baby, but she wasn’t in my life long enough to see it happen. Just a month after we stopped talking, I found out I was pregnant again.
I don’t think she even knows.
A few weeks ago, I left that bracelet on a shelf at Target, next to the pregnancy tests. It had become a source of pain for me, but I knew it could be a source of encouragement for someone else. I like to think that whoever picked it up needed the message that day, whether their test was positive or negative, the outcome they hoped for, or a disappointment. I just pray it’s found its way onto another wrist in need of hope.
In the end, she was right, wasn’t she?
I am a beautiful girl capable of doing hard things.
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