It's Okay To Let Someone Go When They Hold Fundamentally Different Beliefs Than You

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
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We’ve been friends since we were 12. We had known each other our whole lives, but until that point we’d had nothing in common. Once we found that common ground, it was the basis for an almost obsessive friendship. We spent a lot of time together throughout our teens. She was my very best friend. Even though we grew apart as we got older, as friends often do, I still considered her a good friend.

So when I realized we stood on very different sides of the fence about something very important to me, I knew that our friendship could never ever be the same.

The nail in the coffin of our friendship was the day of the last presidential election. She posted a picture of a cocktail with the caption “Trump celebration dinner.” My heart sank. Eighteen years of friendship came to a screaming halt with a simple Facebook post.

I had actually started to see changes in her in the months before the election. She posted a disparaging meme about Black Lives Matter, and my father, a black man, posed some concerns about the post. What if her husband (who is a police officer) shot one of the black men in my family, my dad asked. Were we supposed to pretend it didn’t happen simply because we have known him for a long time?

Her response chilled me to my core. “How stupid of you to bring my husband into this,” she said. Stupid? She was calling my father — a man she had referred to as “Dad” for years — “stupid” because he was concerned for the lives of his family. I felt compelled to say something, but when I saw that another member of her family had called BLM a “terrorist group,” I chose to stay out of the conversation to preserve my emotional wellbeing.

Now, I’m not saying that she had to be out there protesting in support of Black Lives Matter, and I know that she has ties to the police because her husband is a police officer. But when you’ve known someone your entire life, as I have her, you think you know them pretty intimately. I felt betrayed by her comment — after all, this was someone I had treated like family for many years.

Actually, I treated her better than most of my family. She was more my sister than my actual sisters were for much of my teen years. So, seeing her posting such things and not only standing by what they said, but then dismissing concerns made by someone who was directly affected by the comments she was making made me wonder if our friendship was really built on the strong foundation I had thought it was.

There were several other posts in the same vein that popped up on her page in the weeks after. I wanted so badly to say something, anything, but after the way she spoke to my father, I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything. It’s hard for me to confront my close friends, especially when they hurt me deeply. And saying that I was deeply hurt, and offended, by her posts would be an understatement.

I was never invited to her house again after that. Even though I never confronted her, I didn’t really have to because she made her feelings pretty clear — I was no longer welcome in her life.

Because of our deeply-rooted friendship, it has been hard to completely cut her out of my life, even though I’ve learned that we don’t agree on some very fundamental things. Issues that are vitally important to my livelihood, and the safety of my friends/family. If it were someone else, I would have likely had no problem cutting them out of my life immediately. In fact, I’ve done it with many people from my past. But they aren’t people I considered very close friends.

But because she is someone who I cared about very deeply, it has been difficult to let her go. It has also been difficult to sit by and watch her say these hurtful things. Clearly, the respect I have for her is not reciprocated.

Our friendship has changed drastically. We text each other for our birthdays, holidays, and our kids’ birthdays. That’s about it. This year is the 20-year anniversary of our friendship, but we will never be close friends again. So, I’m stuck here with a broken heart, missing the person I considered one of my best friends for so many years.

There are people who might not understand how a friendship can end over something like politics, but this isn’t really about politics. This is deeper than a preference for vanilla ice cream over chocolate, or summer over spring. This is the unabashed support of a person who stands on a platform of bigotry, sexism, and ignorance. This is supporting a man who preyed on the insecurities and prejudices of his supporters. This isn’t a difference of opinion; it’s a difference in values.

Learning that someone you’ve trusted your entire life holds a different set of values than you do is heartbreaking. But even more than than the different opinion, or even different values, it is the lack of morals and empathy from someone I had called a friend.

It was very hard to reconcile that with the person I thought I knew, but I suppose it’s better to know this late than never. Because now I can focus on tending those friendships with people who actually do share my values.

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