If you were to look at my browser history right now, the top search would probably be along the lines of ‘losing a friend’, ‘how to get over a friend break-up’ and similar phrases. It is a long story, but the short version pretty much boils down to this; my best friend does not seem to want to be my best friend any more. I have been struggling to cope with this fact for a while now, and I think I’m finally through the worst of it, so I thought I should take the opportunity to write down the thoughts that have helped me, in the hope that maybe they will also work for somebody else.
In all these searches in my history, the number one advice has consistently been ‘allow yourself to grieve’ – which is fine advice, I’m sure, but grieving was never my problem. It was when it came to stop grieving that I ran into problems. The sadness just felt so overwhelming, the situation so hopeless. Old feelings from previous break-ups came back, the old ‘how can anything ever be alright again after this?’ sentiment. But now – at least in my good moments – I feel that maybe, just maybe, it can. And here are my thoughts that help me:
- In the words of the BiG’s aptly titled song ‘Enlightenment’ “In terms of life, people will do what they wanna do.” This is the big one, the key. The realisation that I cannot change my friend’s mind no matter what I do, the knowledge that I have done everything I can is hugely liberating.
- I have a part in what happened. Some of the reasons for things ending up this way -maybe a lot of them- were my fault. Realising this, accepting it, has helped give me peace of mind. I apologised for my part, honestly, and she has aplogised for things too, whether she honestly meant them or not. But, moving forward, I found myself being the only one making an effort, and I can’t do more than apologise. One person can not have a relationship; it takes (at least) two.
- Forgive them their part. Being angry with someone, frustrated with them for not feeling the same way you do, it’s natural, but it doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t change their mind, it doesn’t bring the friendship back. All it does is make you feel like crap, and you’re probably already doing that. So really try to let go of the anger. No matter what they did, let it go. Done is done, and being angry won’t change anything, at least not for the better.
- Don’t glorify the past. My friend was a great friend at the time – and we had some great times together – but it wasn’t all flowers and puppies. We fought a lot. Towards the end, we fought more than we had good times. So what I miss so desperately has already been lost for a long time. Not trying to dress the lost friendship up as being the most amazing thing in the world when it really was just very occasionally amazing, helps. As does recognising that what I’m losing now isn’t really a friend, it’s just a reminder of a friend. I’m losing something that reminds me of what I have lost. And isn’t that a good thing?
- Why miss someone who doesn’t miss you? Why would you want someone like that in your life? The one thing my friend was great at was keeping in touch – making me feel important to her, wanted. Now she makes me feel like a huge bother for contacting her, unwanted and unwelcome. I don’t want to feel like that. So why would I chase after someone who makes me feel like that? Why would I cry my heart out over losing someone who makes me feel like that?
- People change. On my darkest days, I feel like my ex. friend has killed my friend and is walking around in her skin, taunting me with her presence. But really, all this means is just further proof that the person I loved doesn’t exist anymore. She’s gone. Accepting this, accepting that she’s gone, and accepting that my friend didn’t change on purpose – that these things happen, that this is how people work and that you can’t prevent them from changing, even if this means changing to someone who has no time for you or does not care about you, has helped me let go of that resentment somewhat. It’s still work in progress.
- It’s her loss too. She was a good friend, but so was I. I did a lot of stuff for her, listened to her problems, etc. She told me at the time how much she valued me. And now, she might not know it at the moment, and perhaps never will, but really, losing me is as much of a loss to her, as losing her is to me. Even if this is just me kidding myself, thinking that way helps me.
- Focus on the things you do have. If you have other friends, maybe value them more. If you have family, things you enjoy, focus on those things. Odds are you had a life before this friend came along. I did. I had a lot of interests and things that made me happy, and it’s time to try and reclaim those. I’m not downplaying the loss, but I’m not blowing it out of proportion either. Life does go on. I think about the things I used to enjoy before meeting my friend, listen to a lot of old music, trying to take this opportunity to find my way back to myself as I was before, without the pain of the break-up.
- You’re hardly alone. Just do an image search for ‘losing a friend’ or similar, and you’ll find a thousand pictures that says exactly what you feel. At least I did. It seems like almost everyone has gone through this at some point or other. And while that is sad, it’s also comforting.
The hardest thing about all this, I find, is all the questions I’m left with. Why did she change? Is there any hope of things getting better in the future or not? Is she angry about something that she won’t tell me; perhaps something I don’t even know about? The fact that the one person who could give me those answers that I need is the one person I can’t ask, that is the hardest thing. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change anything. Her issues are not mine – and mine are not hers. Accepting that I need to do this on my own has been the most hard-won realisation, and probably the one of most value. I’m the one who has to handle what is now reality for me. All the promises she made, all the nice things she said about me in the past – that was then. It’s easy to get upset now, say that they were all lies, but they were probably true at the time. Times change. It sucks, but trying to fight it sucks even harder, and that’s why you eventually reach a point where you have to let it go.
Anybody has any other tips that work for them? Please share!