And then came boyfriends, jobs, school, loans, new friends, bills- life. And she wasn't her anymore.
|No, it isn't sugar, but that's no excuse to forego concealer.|
We all lose friends from time to time. Sometimes, it's a gentle pull apart- the gradual separation of a bond that leads to two new, very different lives being formed. Sometimes (well, most of the time, for me)- it's not at all gentle. It's sudden, heartbreaking, and devastating. The loss of a friendship can leave you more broken up than a bad split with a significant other. Most often, we have to deal with it alone, because we're in a culture that doesn't acknowledge the significance of the loss of a good friend - when, in fact, this person could mean more to you than anyone else ever has.
When you've tried everything you can to fix the friendship and there don't seem to be any ways of making that happen, you have to find a way to move forward. So, grab some ice cream and a box of tissues and we'll walk this one out together.
Acknowledge the Loss
About a year ago, I lost my best friend of nine years after we moved in together (which, as I've said before, is a HUGE no-no in most friendships). After she moved out and we had stopped talking, I heard through the grapevine that she had gotten engaged. Wham. There it was. My best friend was getting married, and not only was I not going to be her Maid of Honor- but hell, I had to hear about her wedding from a mutual friend on Facebook.
Where do you go from here?
You're not fine. Stop acting like it. Acknowledge that you're hurting. Acknowledge that you're devastated, even. Cry about it. Talk to a non-mutual friend about what you're experiencing. Tell your dad that you're having a hard time coping. Allow yourself to feel the pain of loss- because the longer you hold out on acknowledging the pain, the longer it will plague you.
If it's the end of the friendship itself that you're mourning, be honest with yourself about how you're feeling- and be honest when you talk to others about it. Don't lie about what caused the breakup- if you're at fault, be at fault. If she's the one who went nuts on you, don't take the blame. Process what is- you can't move forward at all unless you can specifically figure out where you are now.
Respect the Need for Space
You've apologized- even if it wasn't your fault - you've apologized. You put the friendship first. You put your foot in your mouth. Now? That's it. That's all you can do.
|It's always time for cake. Apologies? Not so much.|
Why? Because the first apology is for her. All the rest are for you. For your peace of mind and to prove ahat you are doing all you can to fix things. Stop. If you genuinely care about her- genuinely want to fix things - you have got to acknowledge that you love her enough to let it be her decision. Reach out and accept the fact that nothing may come of it. Understand that you can keep the door open without making a fool of yourself, and without disrespecting her need for space and time.
"The end" can be messy- especially if the dissolution of the relationship was your choice. You know quite a bit about one another- the stuff that no one else knows. You know about the unplanned pregnancy. She knows about your homo-erotic adventure freshman year. You know about her toenail fungus. She knows that one of your nipples is shaped like Italy. RESIST THE URGE TO USE THIS INFORMATION AGAINST THE OTHER PERSON IN RETALIATION FOR YOUR LOSS.
Seriously. Don't do it.
So, the snitch didn't read this blog post and already spread the rumor about you. Where do you go from here?
1. Keep calm. Whether or not the rumor is true, the angrier you get, the more believable the rumor seems.
2. Asses the damage. A few years back, a friend of mine told quite a few people that I was having an affair with a professor. My first response was to blow the fuck up- the thought crossed my mind, "Who would do this? Even if this had been true, and I had told them in confidence, what kind of person would repeat something like this- and to so many people?" Once I found out about the rumor, I allowed it to sink in. Then, I made a plan. Who did I need to talk to? What damage control did I need to do? Here's the beauty part: very little. Even though I wanted to post something on Facebook that said "IT'S ALL A LIE AND SOMEONE WAS OUT TO GET ME AND I'M INNOCENT AND PLEASE BE ON MY SIDE," I knew that acknowledging the rumor/the person publicly would take away my right to privacy and add propellant to the story. No, I knew I had to have my priorities straight.
So, I went upstairs and sat on the bed next to Jake. "There's a rumor going around that I slept with So and So," I said. "I didn't do it, and it's okay for you to ask me again, but I need you to hear from me that this isn't something that happened. If you don't believe it, we need to figure out where to go from here. That's your choice." I knew that was all I could do. And that's all you can do- figure out who you need to talk to (whether or not what's being talked about is true, you want to be the person to bring it up with the people the story will impact- in my case, my loving boyfriend). When writing this post, I asked Jake if he could remember back to when I approached him about this situation. "Vaguely," he said. He had remembered what I said, and he remember believing me, and feeling sorry for the person who had started the rumor.
That's the point, friends. People that know you- people that care about you, and know your heart- they'll say, "Eh, fuck 'em," and help you move forward. As for the sensationalists who love the drama and keep persisting in spreading these rumors (or true things that you didn't want out there) about you? Eh, fuck 'em.
|Never trust the national animal of Scotland.|
It may help (in times like these) to think back to the times that you yourself spread rumors about someone that may or may not have been true- why did you do it? Be honest. For me, the root was usually hurt, jealousy, or boredom. If you asked me to actually confront that person with the rumor? I wouldn't have been able to. Because deep down, I knew that either a) it wasn't true or b)it was none of my business. The folks who spread the bullshit know it's bullshit- and you trying to calm them down will only make the story more sensational, so leave them to their hurt, their jealousy, or their boredom.
3. Resist the urge to confront the arsonist. Again, whether it's true or not, confrontation will not help you at this point. You saying to them in a drunken text "HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT SHIT YOU BETCH DO YOU KNOW THE SHIT I COULD SAY ABOUT YOU?" is not going to help the situation. Think about the best possible outcome. Usually, in situations like these, there aren't many positive options. They will throw more shade (it's a drag term, look it up), you will get defensive, and the situation will get worse. Let it fucking go, man. Let them be angry. Let them throw shade (see, you looked it up and know you know what it means when I use it again!). There is nothing that your anger will do to lessen that impact.
So, what now?
So, you've lost your Thursday night Netflix buddy- and the girl who held your hand through your Brazilian waxes. What do you do to fill in the gap?
|ERMERGERD ISSSS SO HARRRD|
DIVERSIFY. Think of your relationships- your life - like investments. If you put all of your time and energy into one person, and that relationship crashes, you're screwed. So, this happened already? That's okay. It is. Because now you know not to do it again.
There isn't a replacement for the friend you lost. So don't try to push someone else to fill in the hole they left.
Instead, branch out. Reach out to old friends. A lot of them. Find new connections. Make dinner plans with a lot of different people. And then go to dinner. None of this Generation Y shit we do with the "Yah, yah, let's totally hang oooouuuuut, totallllly," and then you never do it. GO.
Take some classes. Try something you always wanted to try (belly dancing) and something you never thought you would do (instructional oral sex classes? why not?). Figure out who you are. It's time to prove to yourself that you exist outside of a circle of friends.
Don't be afraid to do the things you did with your friend, either. I know, it's hard- you guys always used to eat Rocky Road together while watching New Girl. And I know it hurts when you open the fridge and see that half-eaten tub of ice cream. But don't throw it out. Eat it. Because you enjoy it. And watch New Girl for the same reason. The more exposure you give yourself solo to the things you love, the more normal it will feel to enjoy them. Don't let your sadness take your happy things away.
|No one likes sad ice cream.|
Refuse to Choose Anger
This part is the hardest. Ohhhh, my god, is it the hardest. She hurt you. Whether she did something vicious and out-of-character or you did the hurting and she won't take your apology, her denial of your friendship is hard to take.
YOU MUST NOT LISTEN TO YOUR INTERNAL DARTH VADER.
You know what's right and what's wrong. You know better than to hurt her just to make her feel what you are feeling.
So here are some friendship anger-issue commandments to help you through this time of pillow-punching and tongue-biting:
|Yes, that totally is me on a mountain with a pink stone tablet that came from purple lightening.|
1. THOU SHALT NOT POST ABOUT YOUR FORMER FRIEND (EVEN IF YOU DON'T USE HER NAME) ON FACEBOOK
2. THOU SHALT NOT TURN MUTUAL FRIENDS AGAINST THY FORMER FRIEND
3. THOU SHALT NOT TRY TO SLEEP WITH THINE ENEMY'S SIGNIFICANT OTHER
4. THOU SHALT NOT START A RUMOR ABOUT YOUR EX-BESTIE
5. THOU SHALT NOT SHOW UP AT THE PLACE YOU KNOW YOUR FRIEND WILL BE JUST TO MESS WITH HER FUN-HAVING ABILITY
6. THOU SHALT NOT DESTROY MEMENTOS FROM YOUR FRIENDSHIP
7. THOU SHALT NOT EVER CALL THY EX-BFF "CUNT"
8. THOU SHALT NOT TELL ANYONE WHAT YOUR EX-FRIEND TOLD YOU IN CONFIDENCE
9. THOU SHALT NOT DRUNK-TEXT YOUR ANGRY THOUGHTS
10. THOU SHALT BE HONEST WITH THYSELF ABOUT WHY YOU ARE SO MAD
The bottom line with all of these is that trying to hurt your friend only reflects badly on you- and you don't want to carry that stuff on your back, especially if there is a chance at reconciliation, even if it's twenty years down the road. And those mementos? Trust me on this one- pack them away, because you'll wish you'd kept them in twenty years.
Grace Under Fire
Ahhhh, the awkward meet-up.
If you have to see her- or, if you just happen to run into her- your course of action is simple. Kindness through everything. Be gracious. Be polite. If you cannot handle the emotional impact, or if she confronts you, don't make a scene. Quietly walk away. Be gracious at all costs. You will never regret having been kind to her.
Okay, so I lied. This might be the hardest part. Forgiveness. Forgive them for what they did to you. Forgive yourself for what you did to them. Do not be a prisoner of your own anger- you have to acknowledge that these things happen in life and the only choice you have is to move forward.
|Maybe... maybe put the gun down and try to smile when you say it?|
Actively forgive them. Actively. Every time a nasty thought comes into your head, or self-pity, or whatever - tell yourself, "It's time to let the past go and give myself the chance to change and grow with new people. I deserve the freedom that forgiveness gives." It seems corny- but the more you say it- the more you immediately and actively combat these negative thoughts with those of forgiveness and hope, the less often they will pop up, and the more peace you will have when they do.
You will have moments, folks. You will have moments where you find out that she chose a sweetheart neckline dress for the wedding, or when you run into her on the El, or when you find out she's in a show with someone you know- and it will all come back up. In these moments, you must remember that you are always learning, that you are full of life and hope, and that the love that you give is not a reflection of the people you direct it towards- that love is a reflection of you.