If we possess a greater capacity to love, empathize, and offer friendship than in previous years, it can seem natural to assume that the people from our past would be inclined to remain close.
This is not always the case.
A couple of years ago, I went through a tremendous mourning period, the complete five stages of grief. It was rough when my parents divorced, and I’ll never completely get over my nana’s passing. However, when I lost my best friend 10 months before my wedding, I experienced a unique sense of loss.
I didn’t lose her to an illness or accident, although it did happen unexpectedly. I lost her because she simply wasn’t my best friend anymore.
She had been my closest confidante—a sister, bandmate, and my prospective maid of honor—had we not fallen out.
I felt the gap between us growing for a while. Her move to the midwest from our hometown of Los Angeles resulted in more than a change in physical proximity. For a while, we both did what we could to remain close.
In short, we made plans for a day out together during an upcoming visit to L.A., and I arranged for time off work in advance. The morning of our big day out, she cancelled to spend time with others.
My hurt feelings presented as anger. I left a voicemail saying “I’m done.”
You see, this wasn’t the first time. It was a major let-down in a series of blow-offs, in a series of secrets I wasn’t privy to, and outings I wasn’t invited to when she was in town.
When I tried to call a few days later, she would not take my call. When I sent an email to her about how I felt, she did not respond.
For months I cried when I thought about it. I felt a pang of rejection each time I saw a picture of her on my Facebook feed drinking in bars with new friends, or saw an announcement of a show she was playing with her new band. My bridal shower and bachelorette party didn’t seem complete without her, amazing as they were.
Ultimately, I couldn’t fully understand why it had happened, because I was now so much more capable of offering true friendship.
I kept wondering why she preferred the company of others? Why didn’t my best friend want to do the work to get back on track? What was wrong with me?
It wasn’t until months later that I realized my continued development entailed a shedding of that relationship.
Over the past few years, I had made changes that didn’t come easy. I had stopped excessive drinking, started a yoga and meditation practice, tackled deep-seated daddy issues, and learned to communicate effectively with my husband, then boyfriend.
I made many suppositions. Maybe she saw my progress as some sort of betrayal. Maybe the habits were still a part of her experience. Maybe she wasn’t capable of “going deep” any longer. Maybe “fast-food friendships” and surface-level interactions were her bag these days.
I looked a little closer at those Facebook pictures. She usually had a cigarette or drink in her hand. She looked tired. She didn’t look as happy as she used to. Behind the “tough girl” exterior, I saw a fragility.
No matter how much I wanted to keep her in my life, we were incongruous. The hard truth was that my “best friend” did not suit me at my best.
Sometimes, the “acceptance” stage of grief in a lost friendship requires a good, long cry, especially if you’re an empath, like me. But through the tears, it is important that we not question the healthy ways in which we have changed.
If contentment, inspiration, and compassion are more tangible, if we are less fearful, if we have an easier time knowing what’s good for us, or apologizing when we screw up, we must also accept that personal growth sometimes comes at a price.
But the friendships meant to last, remain and grow stronger. We often cycle back with dear friends from years ago. New people enter our lives. The universe sometimes reworks our tribe to bring in compatible souls.
In becoming my own best friend, I had to let go of mine. Timing is everything, and sometimes, it’s time to say goodbye to the people that used to fit us.
In doing so, I said “hello” to a new, more authentic version of me.
Author: Lindsay J. Bond
Editor: Lieselle Davidson