Because We Used To Be Friends

I’ve tried really hard to hate you. And then I tried to just be apathetic, because that, they tell me, is the healthy response. But I can’t manage to authentically feel either of those things for you, at least not for long.

Because we used to be friends.

We weren’t acquaintances.  We weren’t casual friends that had a good time together if we happened to show up to the same party.  I didn’t tolerate you; I loved you.  I made wishes for your good fortune, because your happiness became something I genuinely longed to see.

And then, suddenly, we weren’t friends anymore.

And just like that, I was expected to believe that nothing I knew about you was true.  We didn’t just drift apart – we exploded.  And I was supposed to rewrite our history together, because certainly that couldn’t exist in the same world as this.  There’s  no logical way to reconcile those two realities.

I know that people can live their lives as someone else for a while.  Oh God, do I get that.  But your someone else?  Your apparent break from reality?  She was my friend.

We laughed together.  We laughed until someone snorted or peed or cried, and then we laughed harder.  We reveled in the sheer joy of being able to snort or pee or cry in front of someone.

We cried, too.  Because, of course, it’s nearly impossible for two people to be friends for long without somebody crying.  We wiped each other’s tears, or sat silently beside one another until there were no more tears to cry.  We shared secrets, secrets that went beyond the superficial he said/she said/I did/I know.  We divulged the truly dangerous stuff about what we feared and regretted and hoped for and dreamed of and wanted to be when we grew up.  I split myself open in front of you, and it made perfect sense at the time to do so.

Because we used to be friends.

The day we stopped being friends, my family and I stood in front of our memories of you.  We asked one another if we should erase your photos from our walls and sweep your footprints from our lives.  We were torn.  On one hand it seemed that scrubbing you from our lives would be the logical thing to do.  On the other, it was flagrantly dishonest to pretend those memories hadn’t been made.  And so we let your picture hang until the day it fell off the wall all on its own.  The frame shattered, and I found myself surprised by a wave of sadness.

Because we used to be friends.

I’ve seen people move on from friendships.  I’ve heard the rewriting of history as the same old stories are suddenly retold from a new, more angry perspective.  I know that it’s natural to become hyper aware of a person’s faults as resentment and time puts distance between you.  I know.  I’ve done it.  And part of me wants so damn badly to do it with you, because then all of this wouldn’t still hurt.

I have no problem feeling apathy for the face you show now.  That girl is a stranger to me, with no memories to cling to.  I don’t miss that girl anymore than I miss a woman I might pass on the street during a morning run.  But there is another girl, a girl I’m told was a figment of my imagination.  A girl I laughed with and cried with and shared deep, dark secrets with.  And that girl I can neither hate nor be apathetic towards.  That girl, I’m ashamed to admit, I mourn.

Because we used to be friends.

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  1. avitable says:

    I don’t think you should be ashamed to admit that, at all. Those memories are real and they had real value, even if that person doesn’t exist anymore.

    • Faiqa says:

      @avitable, If I may… When people show a different side of themselves, one contrary to what you believe about them, I don’t think that obliterates who they are or who you think they were. They still “exist”, and those rare and beautiful qualities about them don’t disappear just because we’ve become privy to negative attributes.

  2. Robin says:

    The word you used – mourn – is so appropriate and true. I’ve had to mourn the death of a friendship before, and the feelings can be sharply, painfully similar to an actual death. You wouldn’t expect anyone to bounce back after the death of a friend or loved one, so I think it’s natural to go through similar stages of grief and loss. There’s a hole left where the friendship once resided. I’m sorry for your loss.

  3. TwoBusy says:

    Beautifully written, and no: there’s no shame in mourning. Your loss is real, in every possible sense, and you have every right to feel that phantom limb ache where once there was an important part of your whole.

  4. Jessica says:

    Very touching.

  5. I lost a dear friend that way too. It’s been over five years now. I still mourn, and I still miss her, and I still have to restrain myself from trying to open the door she shut so firmly each time December rolls around again.

    And yet at the same time I’ve moved on, and the memories fade, and so does the hurt, a little more each year.

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  6. Maria says:

    I have typed and re-typed in this box and nothing comes out right. I’m sorry you went through this. And I get it.

  7. Robin says:

    Funny, I feel I’m in a very similar situation only in my situation I feel the friendship has been slowly dying for years and neither of us has admitted it yet. I keep thinking about blogging about it but I know it will bring things to the surface I am not ready to deal with. Instead we ignore it and pretend it’s not there or at least I do. I’m a firm believer in dealing though, I will have to suck it up and do it eventually.

  8. Cate says:

    Powerful words, there is nothing wrong with mourning a lost friendship, I’ve done it in a similar way. It took me a while to realise that as humans we have different agendas in life. And as humans we can be incredibly hurtful to others without realising it.

  9. Shash says:

    This is the letter I need to write to an ex-friend of mine. Maybe now I will. It’s long overdue.

  10. Finn says:

    No way you could feel apathy after what you’d shared. I think THAT would have been unhealthy. The healthy response is working through what you’re feeling and mourning your loss, just like you’re doing.

    What you had was real… it was. Maybe it wasn’t true, but it was real.

  11. Velma says:

    I have an ex-friend I feel this way about – how could we have been so close and now – phffttt – nothing. It’s contrary to almost every other relationship I’ve ever had, so it feels crazy and bad even years later. Sorry you had such a deep loss.

  12. Lianne says:

    I am going through the EXACT same thing… unceremoniously dumped by someone I thought was a true friend. It makes my brain hurt. What is worse, I cannot clear it with her because the last time I tried she actually violated so many confidences, I nearly lost my job.

    Why do people have to be difficult? Isn’t it easier just to love and forgive?

    Sending you love, because I really get how hard it is right now.

  13. Nancy says:

    Morning the end of a relationship is very real and very painful. I am so sorry things ended so badly between you two.

    At least you have kick-ass friends like me. That’s what REALLY matters. ;p

  14. muskrat says:

    This is how I feel about the female version of Avitable, back when he was Avitalina.

  15. Kim says:

    Wow. That was a hell of a post. I get it too. It sucks and it hurts, but in a weird way, it’s closure. XOXO

  16. Lisa says:

    Don’t be ashamed to mourn. A wise person told me recently to cherish the good memories and let go of the bad because they don’t serve much purpose. Keep the lessons they taught you, but keeping the anger just burns at your heart. I think the mourning process allows us to get to that point.

  17. Cassie says:

    Wonderful post. I need to write this letter as well. Chin up.

  18. It’s so hard to lose a friend this way. It’s happened to me, too. Sometimes people just aren’t who they represent themselves to be, or they’re nurturing a resentment that you have no idea of. I think that there are always two sides to why a friendship ends, but when you’re on the receiving end with someone who won’t be honest with you about why, or they ARE honest and it blows you away that this is how they feel or think…it’s very hard to deal with. And it’s so hard to process the loss of a friend, they’re not that easy to come by.

    Great post, Britt. Sorry you lost your friend.

  19. Nanna says:

    I think it’s happened to all of us and I agree with Lisa. Cherish the good memories. They might not FEEL “true” now, but they were. They are. Love you, peanut.

  20. TSM_Oregon says:

    Oh sweetie I know that feeling. And I have been the one forgotten as well. Very well written and I wish I could hug you.

  21. SuvvyGirl says:

    Do not cry because you have lost something, be happy that it ever happened. Much easier said than done and it is easier to focus on the bad than the good. But I always say pick the lesser of two evils, cherish the memories, remember them as often as you want to and let that be enough. And when the bad stuff rears its ugly head, eat chocolate, cry, scream and go beat the ever living daylights out of a punching bag til you feel better :)

  22. I know this feeling all too well, and sometimes, even years later, it still sucks. You know what, though? If someone can’t do you that decency to be real with you, then they’re not worth it. The people who truly matter will be the ones to stick around.

    *hugs*

  23. Issa says:

    Sometimes I think loosing a friend is one of the hardest things their is. I have lost some of my life long friends. It still hurts. I guess though, I’d rather of had them when I did and lost them for various reasons then not have had them at all.

    Hugs to you.

  24. i hate that you were so hurt by someone you loved and trusted.

    and, uhhh…what finn said.

    huge hugs, my friend.

  25. Tina@SendChocolateNow says:

    This is exactly how I feel about a friend of mine. I doubt that I will ever let in anyone that far again.

  26. Mo says:

    Oy. This post hit me hard. I’m going through something similar and it’s breaking my heart into a million pieces. I love that Issa is trying to look on the positive side but I guess I’m more selfish! I miss my friend and it just plain sucks.

  27. RW says:

    Faiqa was talking about something similar the other day on her blog. Odd.

    But I’m constantly surprised by people. This 40th high school reunion thing, for example. I had no idea there are people out there who are willing to hold grudges for DECADES and let it still color their thinking to this day. I don’t even remember who 95% of the people are, let alone recall why I’m pissed at any of them. See? Once again… oblivious is the new black.

  28. Sunny says:

    This made me sad, and I understand.

  29. Karen says:

    I have hesitated all day to write anything here. I don’t want to be hurt anymore, or have my words twisted into something they’re not. Which is why I walked away. I imagine it’s more difficult for you. Much love to you Britt.

  30. Poppy says:

    I don’t know what to say. I read this thinking you meant one friend, then I realized in the shower after my workout that you probably meant that other one. And I can’t get over the idea that I know who you mean.

    I have a very hard time letting people into my life because of things like this. They present themselves one way for a while then turn into a completely different person and I’m left trying to figure out how to get over the hurt I feel because I believed that person was who they told me they were.

    But, if someone cannot be honest with herself how can we expect her to be honest with us?

  31. Karen says:

    Beautifully written. You have such an ability to express feelings without (or seemingly without) shame or fear. I admire that so much.

  32. Amy says:

    I too have been there and understand exactly what you are saying. Mourn, cherish the memories and allow yourself to let go.

  33. Becca says:

    Beautiful post, just beatiful!

  34. Faiqa says:

    Yes. I know.

  35. Jared says:

    I think most of us would choose to just be angry and bitter toward that friend, instead you have taken the time to search out your true feelings. I think many people never have that type of emotional maturity. I suppose it can be a curse as it is defeniately much easier to be strong and angry, then “mourn”. And as always you were able to beautifully describe these feelings in such a way that everyone who reads this hurt with you, and reminded us of are own hurtfull experiences.
    Well done, baby.

  36. Kristin says:

    I’m sorry you feel this way :(

  37. Every time I think about this person, this whole… “thing”, my heart breaks all over again, for you, her, everybody. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it for a while and you put to screen what I’ve been attempting to figure out.

    I remember my first boyfriend (NOT the Ty-man. Shocker, I know.) and how he broke my heart and how, at the moment my heart shattered because of his actions, I still missed him and wanted to see him. At the same time, I hated his lily-livered guts. My best friend in high school (a sage at 17) said, “Heather. Hate isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is.” It took me years to be indifferent about David. Someday, you’ll wake up and know the mourning period is over when all emotion about this person is gone. And that, too, will be something to shed a tear over.

  38. Laurie says:

    Britt~ I am so sorry. I can’t pretend to understand exactly how you feel, but I know it is very difficult. I have been through something somewhat similar and it was pretty awful and heartbreaking. I think the dissolution of a friendship is always really hard. Have you heard that some people come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime? That thought kind of helped me when I was going through it: http://laviedelaurie.com/2007/05/07/a-reason-season-or-lifetime/

  39. patois says:

    This is so difficult to go through, and knowing how many of us have had similar experiences makes me wonder how we ever go on and trust and make new friends again. I’m sorry you miss who she was. It certainly would be easier to not.

  40. jodifur says:

    Breaking up with my best friend growing up was harder than breaking up with any boyfriend. And every once in a while I run into her and it is awkward and weird and a lot of I’ll call you and keep in touch and we never do. I miss her. But there were reasons we stopped speaking.

    This long comment is just to say I so get this.

  41. I’m sorry this happened.

    I fully intend to warn you when I get that “STAY AWAY! WARNING! ALERT” feeling again.

  42. I hate how things have turned out. I really, really do. I wish I had something more uplifting and happy to say.

    I love you.

  43. Sam says:

    I’ve found that when someone starts living an inauthentic life, they often need to find reasons to cut the people out with whom they shared their deepest, darkest, most dangerous secrets — and their most optimistic, hopeful dreams. I obviously don’t know, but I suspect you saw the real person behind a facade and that scares your former friend more than anything…even if that is currently coming out as nothing more than awfulness.

  44. Kellee says:

    Losing a girlfriend is the worst kind of breakup a person can go through. :(

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