Three years ago, I broke up with my best friend. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done—we've known each other for thirty-five years. I know it was the right decision, but there are many days when I still miss her.
Credit Image: Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr
We met in sixth grade and clicked right away. I was the awkward new girl, and she lived in my neighborhood. I'm pretty sure I followed her home and asked her if she wanted to be my friend. We had a lot in common, but our personalities were completely opposite. She was loud and fun and a little bossy, and I was quiet and meek and willing to go along with whatever crazy idea she came up with.
Through the years we went through a lot together. We were teenagers, college students, newlyweds, and mothers at the same time. I saw her almost every day, and most of the time we had lots of fun. She could make me laugh like no one else. Our families vacationed together, and I was there when her children were born. We felt more like sisters than friends.
From the beginning we had our ups and downs, but as the years went on, my friend became more controlling and quick to anger. I'm not sure what was going on with her, and it was the one subject we couldn't talk about. And even though I had grown and matured, for some reason I was still that meek sixth grader when it came to her. No matter what she said or did to me, I always forgave her. She was my best friend.
Unfortunately, over time the negative parts of our friendship started to outweigh the positive. I was making excuses for her behavior to myself and my family, and I found myself dreading our time together. I had stayed in the relationship because I kept thinking things had to get better.
I don't want to go into the details of what happened, because they aren't important. And I don't want to lead you to believe that I was without fault. Every relationship involves two people, and I was by no means the perfect friend. But one day she finally did something that crossed the line, and I couldn't ignore how bad things had gotten anymore.
For three months things were strained and uncomfortable. It came to a head one day, which resulted in an ultimatum from her. What she demanded offered me only one clear choice, and I walked out of her house, and though I didn't know it at the time, out of her life. We haven't seen each other or spoken since.
In the beginning, I thought that things would repair themselves after a short break. We had been friends for thirty-five years, and we had argued before. But the longer I went without having her in my daily life, the more clearly I began to see. Over time, and after discussing it with my husband and children, I came to the sad realization that our relationship had become unhealthy, and the friendship was over for good.
Still, I have mourned the loss of that friendship deeply. I had never experienced a break-up with someone I care about. My hubby and I started dating when we were fifteen—I married my first love. These were new emotions. There has been grief and sadness and now, finally, relief and acceptance.
I didn't write this story to ask for sympathy, or to hear that I did the right thing. I think I did, but it doesn't even matter now. But I do want to share what I've learned.
I've realized that life is hard enough without having toxic people around to bring stress, drama and frustration into the mix. Relationships with your spouse, children and family can be hard sometimes, and they require a lot of work to make them strong and healthy. Friendships should be a safe place to land when you need a shoulder to cry on or advice about a problem. They shouldn't be so difficult.
I've also learned that it's okay to let some relationships go as you get older. Life is too short. There are many things I can't control, but a bad friendship isn't one of them. And even though we had a long history together, I don't have to be unhappy. I finally stood up for me.
We live in the same town, and although I pass her occasionally in my car, we have never come face-to-face since that last day. I tried sending a letter to explain how I felt, but it came back "Return to Sender." That was my final wake-up call. She couldn't hear any side but her own, and that wasn't going to change.
I still think about her often. I miss her sense of humor, the fun we had, the heart-to-heart talks, and especially her children. But I am slowly mending, and I know I made the right decision when I broke up with my best friend.
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