There comes a point in your life when you realise that not all relationships in your life are going to last forever. This might be when you experience your first break up, or if you lose someone close to you. I had experienced both, but nothing could prepare me for the break up with my best friend.
We have known each other since we were in primary school. We went to different schools and never much liked each other at that point, but we also didn’t really know each other. We were then put in the same class in high school and from there our friendship grew. We had small, close knit friendship circle of five girls and I was close to each of them separately. After school, we all either grew apart, or grew together. Katie* and I grew together. We had grown up together and both experienced tough times which brought us closer together.
The only problem in our friendship was the part where we wouldn’t talk to each other for months at a time. You see, Katie was a toxic friend. She would date men who were less than ideal, and it would put a strain on our friendship. Each time I would forgive and forget. Forget the hateful words. Forget the blame game. Forget that I didn’t have a best friend for months at a time.
And I took her back. Just like a lovesick teenager taking back her cheating boyfriend. Just to be dumped again for another douche boyfriend. I use the word ‘dumped’ because that is exactly what it feels like.
The last time it happened, we weren’t even fighting. Her boyfriend didn’t want us to be friends anymore and she told me that we had to part ways. But this time it was different. I didn’t get a “sorry, maybe we can catch up later?” or “Let’s just wait for this to cool down and we can sort it out later.” With no proper explanation, no discussion and no chance for me to put forward my case… I was literally blocked from someone’s life. Blocked on social media, blocked from calling or sending text messages. Short of old fashioned snail mail, there wasn’t much I could do to ever contact her.
When Katie decided one day that she didn’t want to be my friend, it was like a kick in the guts. I tried to call and text but that didn’t work. I was cut out of someone’s life so suddenly, and it hurt.
How do you handle something like that? When you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friends rally around you and support you. You go out, get drunk and have fun. You reflect, and decide how to proceed with your life from this point on.
Why is it so different when you break up with a friend? You just pick up you boots and move on.
You see, friendships are exactly like relationships. I’ve never quite understood why people don’t treat them the same way. You have two people who enjoy spending time together, who have similar interests and you trust implicitly. Sounds like a good relationship to me.
“You never stay friends with people from high school anyway.”
“You have plenty of other friends, forget about her.”
These statements were flung at me so many times by so many different people. Frankly, it pissed me off that people were so callous about my feelings. I had been close friends with this person for over a decade. We had laughed together, cried together, gone on holidays together, and even briefly lived together. What makes breaking up with a childhood friend less devastating than breaking up a guy you’ve been seeing for four months?
There isn’t. And it felt like no one was taking my devastation as seriously as I was. So, I will leave you with the advice that I never got.
Allow yourself to grieve the same way you would if it was your partner. Cry and get angry. Go out and get drunk. Rally your remaining support system and realise just how great each one of those other people. Cherish them for what they give to you. Reflect on the good times you had, and on the bad. Realise what you’re worth and how you won’t take anything less in your friendships from now on. You will find new friends, or maybe you already have them. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get closure.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Have you gone through a friendship break up? How did you handle it?