Anyone that’s been through a friend breakup knows that, more often than not, they can hurt so much worse than ending a romantic relationship. As with any breakup, that hurt is even worse when it’s unexpected. There’s just something about being blindsided by a person walking out of your life that leaves you feeling lost, abandoned, and heartbroken. A few months ago, my best friend and I decided to part ways. And by “my best friend and I decided,” I mean that after multiple attempts to contact her, she sent me a very straightforward text that included the phrase, “my relationship with you is emotionally draining,” and never spoke to me again.
Yeah. Ouch. Even at the time, though, I found it hard to be mad at her. She was honest with me, but not to the point of being downright mean. She didn’t intentionally try to hurt me. Through some kind of soul searching she had decided that our relationship as best friends was no longer serving her, and she ended it for her own well-being. I can honestly say that I respected her for being so blunt.
Yet I was obviously still left without a best friend. What made it worse was that our friendship was a branch of the best trio I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of. The three of us had met in speech class at community college, and it had quickly progressed into the kind of relationship where nothing was off limits. Disconnecting with her meant that the trio would be cut in half in the most awkward way.
After the dreaded break up text, we cut contact pretty abruptly. I attempted to ask her if she wanted her t shirt back when I found it at my apartment, but no reply. That’s okay. Sometimes a clean break is the best. No fighting, no hurtful words, and, oddly enough, no hurt feelings. Especially looking back from where I am now, I can’t be mad at her for making a decision to benefit her own mental health. If I was no longer making her happy, who am I to say that she should stick around just for my benefit?
With that little bit of back story, I have to make a confession. This post is, at its core, an ode to the friend I lost. She was the exact person I needed at that time in my life, and her influence helped make me the person I am. She helped me grow, and to throw away that truth just because the relationship ended would be a loss.
So I want to say thank you to my ex best friend, the girl that dumped me with a text message. There are things that you’ve given me that I will never regret, and I will never regret loving you. So thank you for…
1. Allowing me to come out. I came into our friendship a bitter Christian girl in denial. When I saw the first girl I ever loved across the room at work and frantically text you asking why I thought a girl was attractive, you lovingly walked me through my sexuality crisis. When that same girl broke my heart, you stubbornly dragged me to gay bar after gay bar trying to cheer me up. You never judged. You never laughed. You never acted like I was an idiot for identifying as a lesbian one week and sleeping with a guy the next. Your acceptance was unconditional, and your guidance was vital.
2. Steering me towards feminism. I’ll admit, I had the makings of a feminist from the moment I met you. Hell, one of our first conversations was arguing over who would get to do the speech on rape culture in class. You boldly confronted the ideas I held that you didn’t agree with, and we would debate for hours. Slowly, my views molded. You opened up a world that I had never seen, especially growing up in a Baptist Christian environment. Not once did I consider confronting the bigoted, harmful views that had been engrained in my mind through a number of sources, but you made me face them all. Slowly, patiently, you made me grow.
3. Allowing me to be myself, without apology. I was a shy person when I left high school. Still reeling from years of self-hatred, I had convinced myself that my opinions didn’t matter and definitely didn’t need to be heard. Many would have thought that having such a boisterous best friend would keep me quiet, but you had the exact opposite effect. Sometime in our two year friendship, I went from begging you to order for me at McDonalds (anxiety is a bitch, kids) to calling people out for disrespectful behavior in front of large groups of people. You made me ballsy.
4. Dragging my chubby ass to the gym. Nothing’s better than a workout buddy. When we both wanted to lose weight but I was too scared to go to an actual gym, you made me go anyway. Dragging me out of my comfort zone kick-started one of the best journeys of my life, a journey that’s been pulling me further and further away from my eating disorder every day. The first day, I was terrified of the weight room. Allowing you to pull me away from the cardio machines where I felt most comfortable led to me finding so much more than strength. Weight lifting became my favorite hobby, my biggest motivator, and something that made me feel like I was accomplishing more than just losing weight. I wanted to be thin, and you gave me the nerve to be strong.
5. Leaving. Thank you for leaving. After all you’ve done for me, whether intentional or not, thank you for walking away. You left when our relationship started to pull at your heart in a way that nobody should have to deal with. You walked away when something just wasn’t clicking anymore. You did it with grace and honesty. There were no lies to save my feelings, and there was no maintaining a strained relationship just because you wanted to be nice to me. After two years of making me see my self-worth and begging me to do what was best for me instead of taking care of other people, you did just that. The decision you made was exactly what was best for you at the time. I can’t hate you for it.
My best friend left, and she broke my heart. There are parts of me that still want to be angry, but I can’t. “You can’t let bad endings ruin great stories.” One of my favorite characters leaving my story is no reason for me to be angry, and it’s certainly no reason to regret letting her in my plot line to begin with.