“I’m just going to come right out and say it, because it’s the truth and no one talks about it. Friendship breakups are a million times worse than regular breakups. The pain is irrevocable. I guess there’s something else to be said about divorce that involves kids, but that’s another story.
My best friend Amy, or ex-best friend (which stings to even say and probably always will), grew up with me. I met her back in 6th grade and we were inseparable ever since. We bonded over our outcast status and shyness. The second we conversed, it felt like we had known each other in a past life.
She was there with me for all the big moments in my life, all of the milestones. My first period, my first broken bone, my first boyfriend, and breakup thereafter. When we didn’t have dates to prom, we took each other. We wouldn’t have wished it any other way. After high school, we went to the same college and dormed together. I was 217 miles from home, but it didn’t feel that way. Home was always wherever she was. We were that close.
She was the type of friend I could stay up all night and talk about anything with. She never judged, always listened. We’d laugh, cry, rant. We told each other our darkest secrets and deepest fears. We had our own insides jokes and little language which consisted of changing the first letter of every word to ‘v’ when we wanted to be discreet in front of others (perhaps it wasn’t that discreet). Whenever I pictured my future, the only thing that was certain was my family and her. I could imagine her as my bridesmaid as I walked down the aisle. I could imagine us, new moms, holding our babies. In fact, we always said we wanted to get pregnant at the same time so our kids could grow up together. I could imagine us, 80 years old and wrinkled, hand in hand, laughing about the craziness of our younger years. Now I can only tear up thinking about it. This future no longer exists for us. I can’t describe the visceral pain of seeing these visions in my head now.
Those first three years of college flew by. It’s true what they say about having fun. In college, we encountered more firsts. Our first college party. Our first all-nighters. Our first mental breakdowns from stress. The list goes on. You name it, and we did it together. At the beginning of my senior year of college, I met a boy named David. He was in my chemistry lecture and we just so happened to sit next to each other on the first day.
About two weeks into the school year, he turned to me and said, ‘Hey, do you have the notes from last lecture?’ I nodded yes and shushed him when he kept trying to talk. I gestured toward the speaking professor. After class, I got his email and told him I’d send the notes later that evening when I got out of my lab. It was a Thursday and we wouldn’t see each other again until the following Tuesday when he had class again.
That weekend I received an email. It was the same email I had sent the notes to. ‘David’. He wrote to me, ‘Thank you so much for the notes. Perhaps I can make it up to you some time and take you out to dinner.’ My heart dropped, but I agreed. I hadn’t thought of him in that way. I didn’t know if it was a friend date or a date date. I was terrified.
I told my best friend all about it. When I planned to meet him that Saturday night, she helped me do my makeup and pick an outfit about 112 times. I vividly remember her saying, ‘Maybe he’s the one you’re gonna marry!’ He wasn’t. But he was the one I would come to date for 7 years.
Like my best friend, I imagined him deep into my future. I loved him with all of my heart and those were some of the absolute best years of my life. David and I did everything together, and my best friend often tagged along. We were three best friends taking on the world. Until the day they both became my exes. I didn’t see it coming. I had no idea. No hints to pick up on. They hid it well.
I remember telling my best friend one night, for the tenth time, I really wanted to marry David. I loved him so much and wanted him to be my husband one day. I’m not sure why hearing it this time made her finally come forward. I guess she finally felt an ounce of pity for me.
That very next morning, I received a text from her. She knew I was off that day. David and I lived together in an apartment, and he was off at work. ‘I need to come over and talk to you immediately,’ she said. When I didn’t answer within 2 minutes, she texted again. ‘Please.’ I had been in the shower. My stomach felt sick once I stepped out and read her messages. I instantly threw on some clothes and texted, ‘Omg. Come over. Hope everything is alright!!’ I thought someone in her family was sick or had passed. I was so terrified for her. Turns out, it was something I never would have expected.
She sat me down. She breathed differently that day. Heavy and slow. Her eyes looked sad. ‘What’s going on?’ She made me promise I wouldn’t hate her. I told her of course, she was my best friend. When she heard those two last words she began to sob. At this point, I knew she had done something really wrong. And then it came. In slow words that shattered my universe. ‘David and I…’ Before she could finish, my mind already finished for her. I closed my eyes, looked away. My chest hurt. ‘…Have been seeing each other for almost 3 years now.’
All I could muster was, ‘What?’ I didn’t understand. ‘What?’ She tried to hold my hands, but I pulled away. ‘David and I are…in love.’ I rose up from my couch and told her to get out of my apartment. I felt immediately embarrassed saying that. It no longer felt like mine and David’s. It no longer felt like mine, either. ‘Please, please, please just listen,’ she said. When I didn’t look at her and told her to get out again, she said something like, ‘Please! We can’t choose who we love!’
When I stormed into her apartment a few hours later to talk, David was there also. He had told me he was at work. He wasn’t. He was in his pajamas. On her bed. Eyes puffy from crying. I remember thinking, ‘Why is HE crying?’
They couldn’t tell me much. Their words were all broken from slobbering and sobbing. It made me angry to watch. They just explained they fell in love and didn’t know what to do about it. They kept it from me because they didn’t want to hurt me. That they both loved me, David still loved me. But he just loved her more. It was all surreal to take in. I was broken.
I don’t want to get too much into the details of the falling out, but just know neither of them are in my life anymore. I loved them so much I was even willing to forgive them. Until nasty words were said and I decided I was better than that and valued myself.
As much as I loved David, nothing compares to the pain of a lost friend. As permanent as we think our relationships are, there’s always that subconscious thought it could end. That he could cheat or lie or steal. That things would just go sour and you fall out of love. But you never think about those sorts of things with friendships. You expect them to stay through thick and thin. In sickness and in health. For a lifetime. It never occurred to me it couldn’t. Our bond was just that strong.
If you’ve experienced a friendship breakup, just know you’re not alone. It’s a subject we often don’t talk about. The endless nights of crying. The ‘stalking’ their profiles to see what they’re up to even though you hate you’re checking in the first place. The shock. The memories you can’t erase. But just know there are always people out there who you can love and trust. And you will find them, in time.
People are the way they are and you can’t change them. And that’s okay. You just have to accept it and move on. You have to love yourself, care for yourself, heal and better yourself. Surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. For two years, I didn’t think there was. I hid away from the world. Isolated myself. I didn’t think I could find new friends. I didn’t think I could trust or love again. Turns out, I can. Because love is always stronger.
If you focus on loving and healing, and not mourning, then I promise you’ll be alright. I’ve gotten to a point where I can look back on my lifetime of memories with her and appreciate them. I am happy I was able to create so many beautiful memories, but sad they had to end. But, above all, I am excited for the future, for the memories I’ve yet to make. And I wish her beautiful memories, too. Truly.”
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