First, let me thank everyone for the overwhelming response to our blog “Friendship Break Ups.” I read all the notes and DMs and am truly thankful for such a sweet and uplifting community. I wanted to take a minute to pull a thread on a thought that I touched on in the original piece–and that’s the idea that by leaving our friendship, she made me question everything.
Most definitely, my worth.
Because if I was worthy person she wouldn’t have left right?
If I was a good person she wouldn’t have left.
If I was an easy to be around she wouldn’t have left.
If I was lovable she wouldn’t have left.
If I was funny enough, giving enough, smart enough, kind enough, wealthy enough, and available enough, she wouldn’t have left.
I had always thought of myself as a good judge of character. I thought I was a good judge of what was going on in my life too–was I really that blind? Oblivious? Did I truly have no clue? How long had she been waiting to leave? How long had she felt that way? How could I have not seen it?
And I would be a liar if I didn’t say that those feelings of insecurity, self doubt, and fear crept into my other friendships.
In friendships that have lasted for years, just like romantic relationships, there’s a certain level of intimacy. You share pieces of your soul–like little tiny pearlescent shells. You hand those gently to the other person and ask them to keep those pieces of you safe. And when a friend leaves, they take that significant part of you with them. And I feared that it was a part of me that I couldn’t ever get back–and I hesitated to even attempt to share it with someone again. I couldn’t imagine a person that could take that precious, intimate, core part of me away.
Because once you’ve had your heart shattered by your best friend “divorcing” you, you think all of your other friends are one step away from pulling their own parachute and exiting the friendship.
Because what if……
I’m too hard to love.
I’m too loud.
I’m too much energy.
I’m too filled with grief.
I’m too easy to leave.
What if I’m too high strung.
I’m too passionate.
I’m too anxious.
I’m too sarcastic.
I’m too reserved.
What if my laugh is too loud, my diabetes is too much, or I say the wrong thing?
I’m just……..too much.
It made me question every part of myself and re-examine which parts were “appropriate” or “safe” to share with others because I didn’t want to be too much for them. I didn’t want to ask for too much or need too much. I wanted to be vanilla, palatable, safe so there wasn’t ever a chance that I would bother, offend, or upset them. I sheltered certain parts of myself from them because I had shown her EVERYTHING and it was obviously too much. It was a constant fear that I was one mess up, one irritation, and one annoyance away from someone leaving me again.
It was a constant need for validation. Are we ok? Are you mad at me? If I had a friend not respond to my text somewhat immediately, I jumped (at warp speed mind you) to the notation that I’d said/done/acted wrong someway and they were mad at me.
It took me a long time to believe I wasn’t the problem. And to figure out that I didn’t need to understand the reason why she left. Growing apart didn’t change the fact that for ten years we had grown side by side. Her and my roots will always be tangled together and I can say now I’m grateful for that.
And I changed how I was cultivating new (and true) friendships. Planting new seeds. Friendships built on compassion and empathy; love and trust. Friendships where we’re quick to laugh but quick to problem solve. Friendships that can have tough discussions and reassure each other that we aren’t a burden (no matter how many times I need to hear it). Friendships without judgement. Friendships built on fierce belief in each other. Friendships that hold space for each other. Friendships without walls around our hearts. Friendships that are good for my soul. Friendships where we bring the sun and watch each other bloom. Friendships that have brought me more joy, relief, love, and laughter than I could ever imagine.
And now, many years later, I now realize what a true friend is. Someone who would always love you–the imperfect you, the confused you, the strong you, the grief stricken you, the joy filled you, the messy you, and the hilarious you–because that’s what they are supposed to do.