In my introductory post on this site, I made reference to the fact that in a lot of ways, I set this blog up as a coping mechanism as I came to terms with the end of some very significant friendships in my life.
I can’t even begin to underestimate how much said closures have impacted on my life, and I wouldn’t wish the loss of a best friend on any one.
Take the worst breakup you ever had with a boyfriend and multiple it by a million percent – that doesn’t even come close to how much it hurts.
Female friendship is without doubt one of the purest and most important forms of relationship this world has to offer – but when it goes wrong it can also be the cruelest.
But through the greatest losses come the most salient periods of growth and reflection, and hopefully positive change.
I would like to share with you today how I’ve coped with friend ending and why it’s ok to be totally broken by it – the rebuilding is the best part.
The Unexpected Goodbye:
Over a decade of friendship, I never thought it would end like that. A phone call in an empty car park, the words ‘I can’t deal with you, I’ll speak to you when you’ve calmed down.’ The phone goes dead. The next phone call never came.
Here we are, more than six months down the line. I saw someone in the supermarket last week who asked how you were – I didn’t know, you’re a stranger to me now.
I honestly don’t know if the sense of loss will ever leave entirely, but I do know that I have to learn lessons from this pain – I can’t make these mistakes again, and I can’t face a reoccurrence of this situation in the future.
Through tears, frustration, guilt, sadness, anger, devastation, and finally some semblance of peace – here is what I have learnt about coming to terms with the end of friendship(s).
Face-to-Face communication is key:
Whatsapp, social media, Facebook, Text messages etc– are the absolute death of important conversation. Context and tone are completely void via this medium, and things get misconstrued very, very quickly – and can spiral even quicker. If you need to have a conversation that might dictate the future of your friendship, give it the priority it deserves and meet face to face. Also, if you do meet face to face and it still doesn’t resolve things – you’ll know pretty quickly that you’re backing a loser.
If it’s over, it’s over:
Be graceful. If someone tells you they would like to end contact, accept their decision. The most painful part of ending a friendship is sometimes holding on to something for too long, dragging it out because you have a history – when really your current relationship is bringing you nothing but misery. I’ve certainly been guilty of diving back in because of ‘the good old days’ but seriously it will just make you frustrated and sad. Remember the great memories without craving the need to make more. You’ll know when it’s truly over when the nostalgia no longer outweighs the person standing in front of you who now feels like a stranger.
Do not put the blame on one party:
Life is complicated. You may never know the reason your friend seemingly turned into a monster overnight – perhaps you’ll never know, just don’t drive yourself mad in the process of trying to find out. People deal with bereavements, money problems, relationship problems, illness, workload, children, wedding planning, house move and so on, in a multitude of different ways, unfortunately sometimes friendship is the casualty. There is a such a thing as bloody bad timing when a myriad of shitty things happen at once and the only place you feel safe enough to vent is amongst your friends – sometimes at your friends! Be careful with that.
But just remember to keep a kind thought for them in your heart as you move forward. Yes, you’ve gone down different paths, and yes it bloody hurts, but they are probably hurting in their own way too – don’t fill your headspace with negativity and hate, wishing peace and goodwill on them for the future will help you to heal too.
People can outgrow one another:
It doesn’t mean you failed, or they failed. It doesn’t mean you dislike each other or couldn’t meet up again one day when the circumstances are different. There are just times in life when your priorities are at complete odds with your friends and your relationship meets a natural expiry date. But never forget that there are countless other people out there who are in tune with you at any particular time – don’t be afraid to connect with them.
Remove triggers from plain sight:
If you’ve had a long-term friendship, chances are your home reflects this. Gifts, photographs, even clothes from memorable events can all evoke emotions. When my friendships ended, the first thing that changed were the photos around the house – they went away in a drawer. The next thing were the gifts, and finally some items of clothing (a bridesmaid dress in particular) At first I didn’t destroy them – and I wouldn’t advocate anything so permanent until you are sure, and you know you are thinking clearly, not just from snap emotions. Perhaps just put them out of sight for a while. For me, 6 months later – the bridesmaid dress has gone to charity as have most of the smaller gifts, the physical copies of the photographs have been thrown away (but I still have digital copies stored somewhere) I just felt ready to remove permanent reminders of something that didn’t fill my home with warmth or love anymore – the home should always be a haven.
Make sure you check in, reflect and become a better friend yourself:
Grieving is a process. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel ok about things straight away – I still have days when I am a complete mess – and I know something inside me has changed forever. But I’m almost half a year down the line, and I know I feel much better than I did at the end of last year already. It’s common to let your mind wander to places like ‘I must have been the worst friend ever’ ‘I will never have someone like that friend ever again.’ But, you need to be kind with yourself, take things at your own pace, and let the universe take its course. Try new hobbies, find new interests (for me it’s been blogging!) and you’ll be surprised the new connections you make. And here’s where the positive change comes in – you’ll now be equipped with the knowledge of what caused your previous friendships to end. Use it to become a better person, and a better friend – and to also be more selective about whom you choose to take part in your life in the future. Again, you can’t rush new friendships, but focus on solid foundations and people who reflect who you have become. For me, it was important to surround myself with positive influences, people who have the same set of values as I do, and who helped me feel empowered – so in return I could empower them.
I hope this has in some way been helpful, be strong, be kind and be yourself always.