Adult Growing Pains

Ive never been one to have the most friends. I’ve always been drawn to quality over quantity, so when I lost one of my closest friends when I was 28, it cut me deep. It was a quality friendship of almost 10 years that included living together, being teammates and countless weekend excursions. It took me a while to realize what was happening, but she was gone. She didn’t die or move far away; She simply decided that our friendship was keeping her from “living her best life”.

It’s been two years, and writing that previous sentence out loud still makes my heart race with anxiety and my stomach drop with embarrassment. Admitting that truth to the world feels like standing naked in front of a crowd of people and listening to them point out my imperfections. It feels like the most genuine form of failure; like you’re losing in a game you weren’t aware that you were playing while everyone watches.

It happened slowly, but also all at once. I remember our last time together. We had gotten lunch one afternoon and when I left I remember thinking something was off. The vibe was different and it just didn’t feel like us. She was one of those friends that felt like a lazy Sunday afternoon; comfortable and enjoyable with hope that the day will last forever. She was someone who got to see my soul more often then most. We had a good balance of vulnerable heart to hearts and wild weekend outings, or so I thought. When I left lunch that day, it felt stiff; it wasn’t the sunny dreamy Sunday afternoon vibe, it was more like a damp Monday morning. The hard part was it looked like a Sunday afternoon. We hugged, we talked, we ate. It was our normal, but also so far from it. I felt crazy. Was I imagining the difference in atmosphere? I convinced myself I must be and moved forward.

A week or two went by and I hadn’t heard from her. We were both extremely busy with too many things on our plates, so this wasn’t atypical, but for me there was still something eerie in the air. So I reached out, asking for confirmation that our friendship was all good. I got the thumbs up. It reinforced my self deprecating dialogue – yup I’m just a needy friend, someone who needs a ridiculous amount of reassurance that I am loved. I brushed it off and kept pushing forward.

….Then weeks went by, still radio silence from the other end. Those weeks turned to months, and those months became a year. As time passed it became obvious to me that this wasn’t simply us drifting apart, it felt deliberate. In our ten years of friendship we had never gone this long without speaking, even when we were living in separate cities.

Eventually I became exhausted of living through the consequences without an explanation, so I reached out and requested that we get together to talk. I was ready to be vulnerable. I was willing to hear her side of the story, take responsibility for my own, and grow together to hopefully repair the friendship that had fallen through the cracks over time. After all, we had been best friends for ten years, I felt it was important to give our relationship the effort it deserved.

We met. Perspectives were shared. Kind words were exchanged. Words that cut like knives were said. Tears were shed. Love was expressed. At the root of everything was a miscommunication that had happened the day we had lunch almost two years back. At the time I was going through one of the lowest points of my life, and I wasn’t ready to open up about it just yet. I needed time to accept it and find my peace with it; at that stage I had never said the words out loud to anyone. The only people who knew what was going on were the ones who were there when it happened. That day I had said, “I’m sorry, I’ve only told people that are close to it”. What she heard was, “I’m only telling people that I’ m close to”.

Finally reaching an understanding of the others perspective agreements were made to be better in the future. There was a glimmer of hope as we left that day, but her hug and words felt distant as we parted ways to our cars. I didn’t know it then, but our friendship would never recover. We may have reached a common understanding, but the damage had already been done. That one sentence was the straw that obliterated 10 years of one of my favorite relationships.

The days, weeks, and months that followed were heart wrenching. Having family and friends innocently ask about her dropped me to my knees while my body was still physically standing. Scrolling through social media evoked paralyzing fear that everyone else was moving forward as if nothing had changed. I was slowly fading into the darkness letting mutual friendships fall to the wayside. It is the worst heartbreak I’ve ever experienced. It’s a wound that will forever influence my current and future relationships.

It’s hard not to wonder why I wasn’t enough. Why our friendship wasn’t important enough for her to communicate through our struggles and differences. I can’t keep wondering. I can’t keep asking. I can decide to be broken or to be broken open. I can get smaller and angrier and lash out to hide my vulnerability. Or I can be broken open. I can let this wound cut through the floor of my soul to reveal a new cavity of who I am. A moment that will remind myself of who I am, not who I momentarily thought I was.

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