July 17, 2023

I Used to have a Best Friend—& Now I Don’t.

best friend

If there was a best friend award, mine would have won it.

Sure, there was never any trophy to cement her title, but I officially had the world’s bestest best friend.

It would be easier to write this if I could say that she was mean, bitchy, or stingy. But she wasn’t. She was kind, funny, and beyond generous. The type of friend to send you a random card through the post when the rest of the world is sending stupid e-cards. The type of friend to waltz into your home like it’s their own. The type of friend to always listen and have your back.

We were friends for roughly 25 years. That’s a long time to know someone, isn’t it? Twenty five years—9,125 days.

I never thought for one moment that I would live my life without having her as my friend. And then two things changed me: motherhood and 2022.

The former is inevitable. You become a mother and, suddenly, everything you thought you cared about kind of shifts. You’re suddenly this newer version of yourself, and it’s kind of cool.

The latter changed me because it was the year I really understood who I was. I’ve felt lost for many years. Drifting through life searching for something, unsure what that something actually was, and 2022 enlightened me about many things.

It changed who I was as a person, and the things I cared about—and sometimes, you just can’t go back once you move forward.

Motherhood makes you evaluate what brings you peace and what causes you stress. Before having my daughter, I never paid much thought to what a parent does in a day. How much they have to juggle. How some days feel like a race to bedtime, while others feel like a slow and overwhelming struggle.

All day long, I am needed. Sometimes the days are painfully slow, and other times it feels like there’s not enough time to do it all. No sooner have I made breakfast, am washing it up, and getting my daughter dressed before I then hear the call of hunger from my tiny human.

There are days when it feels easy, and there are other days when it feels like I can’t catch my breath. And then it’s onto dinner and bath time and reading not one or two but three books at bedtime. And by the time you crawl downstairs for those few sacred hours without a small human needing you, you’re just too tired to want to reply to text messages or field conversations.

I found myself becoming overwhelmed and stressed out looking at my phone and seeing 20 messages, or several missed calls. I wanted to wrap a neon sign flashing “Unavailable” across my chest.

Modern living has made us available 24/7 thanks to smartphones and apps. There are no boundaries, no visiting hours. No way of letting someone know you’re not capable of being an emotional support at a time when you feel like you can’t even support yourself. The messages come through, you see the notifications, and there it is: the pressure to be a good friend, to be a support, which almost always means putting their needs ahead of your own.

My biggest boundary is space, and it is something that I felt was often ignored in this friendship. I asked for space—many times. I explained I was feeling overwhelmed—many times. I even deleted WhatsApp so that I wasn’t contacted daily, and was messaged other ways. When I wanted zero contact for no other reason than I just wanted to be offline in real life, my phone still rang.

There’s only so many times our boundaries can be ignored before we have to think about our own needs and take action.

One day, I woke up and just decided that I didn’t want this anymore. And I broke up with her in what seemed like the only way to do so in this modern world: by blocking her number and deleting her from my social media.

And I wanted to miss her. But the reality is that I just didn’t. I felt relieved.

The length of a friendship doesn’t determine the fit of that friendship. The friend from your childhood may not understand you in your 20s or 30s. You may even hit the ripe age of 50 and decide you’re no longer meant to be friends. Every season in our lives brings new changes.

Romantic relationships start and sometimes end, so why would platonic friendships be any different?

Sometimes, you just have to stop and accept the fact that you’ve changed. That the things you used to bond over with another person are just not your identity any longer. It’s draining having to feel the need to explain why you’re different. Why certain things are suddenly so important.

I don’t need that time to be taken up by feeling obligated to be a good friend. To have to reply to messages or answer phone calls. To feel like taking time for myself is somehow offending another person. I want the freedom to own the 24 hours in each of my days and feel that I get to dictate how I spend them.

In this season of my life, I am choosing peace.

In retrospect, I can see that my friend and I were so attached to the familiar versions of ourselves and each other that we were unwilling to make room for what was evolving in its place. And as we change, what we need from a friend changes, too.

I am me. And it has taken me a long time to feel peace with who I am, the choices I make, and the paths I have chosen.

I have made friends since then that have felt low maintenance in comparison, and it has brought me a great deal of peace. Friends who I can message back a week later. Friends who never call because they understand that sometimes, in motherhood, being on the phone is the last thing we want. Friends who will ask if you’re okay, and ask what they can do.

And friends who if you say you need space give it to you freely, without any resistance.


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