When the calls stopped, I can’t say that I was too surprised. But that didn’t mean it hurt any less.
Twenty-four years of friendship had phased out into a void of silence. My best friend, whose life once seamlessly intertwined with mine, had ghosted me. I suddenly realized our relationship had run its course and I was devastated.
We met as eight-year-old girls at a school where our identities – being both Black and physically disabled – made us a minority. Meeting her felt like finding a unicorn! We bonded immediately. But after college we began to drift apart. I began noticing a lapse in her returning my calls and texts, and she was a constant no-show at my events.
The tip of the iceberg was when I published my first book and she didn’t read it nor congratulate me.
I accepted her excuses for her dwindling presence in my life and continued to show up for her any chance I could.
I still bought her presents on holidays, celebrated the birth of her first child, and applauded when she purchased her first home. However, being the invested half of a one-sided friendship left me depleted. I finally recognized that it was time for me to move on.
There are many tips about what to do when a mate or lover decides to suddenly leave or “ghost” you, but there isn’t much advice on coping with the sudden demise of a deep friendship. You’re just expected to accept it and move on.
One friend told me, “Forget her! It’s not like she was your man or anything, right?” True, she wasn’t my man, but that didn’t make the relationship any less valuable.
Ending a relationship with a best friend has a unique fragility.
For many women, the relationships we have with our best friends contain a level of intimacy unparalleled to what we have with spouses or lovers. Our best friends are our sounding boards and cheerleaders; they help us celebrate our successes and are a source of comfort during our darkest days. The “girl talk” and our shared experiences of womanhood are the ties that bind female relationships.
Our best friend is the nucleus in our group of friends. So when that friendship ends, seeking out ways to heal is not only natural, it’s vital.
Here are 4 important steps to find closure after losing your best friend.
It’s Okay to Grieve
Crying over losing a best friend is not silly or overkill; it can feel like losing a family member or severing an appendage. Downplaying the pain of the demise stops you from healing from it properly.
Writing down your thoughts, painting, or even reflecting on old memories helps. You’re allowed to be unhappy about losing someone with whom you shared laughs, hair tips, or funny stories about your kids.
If you feel yourself tearing up, let it flow.
Own Your Own Role
Be responsible for the part that you may have played. They may have been the one to disappear on you, but friendship is two sided and no one is perfect.
Even if you believe your friend owns the blame, playing the blame game will only make you bitter. Acknowledge that you may not have always been a perfect friend either. Use your mistakes as an incentive to better nurture your current relationships.
Toss Out or Delete
Don’t feel bad about throwing away that birthday card she gave you or giving away the sweater she bought you for Christmas.
Getting rid of memorabilia pertaining to your friendship may dust up old memories, but it also adds a finality that it’s really over and helps you move on. It declutters and clears the space for new memories and people.
Social media can also make detangling from relationships even harder. Deleting old pictures or blocking her from your social media account might seem extreme, but it can actually be very cathartic.
The more time that passes, the easier it gets. The saying is true; time really is a healer. But be aware that your paths may cross again, especially if you enjoy the same hangout spots. On the occasion that you do cross paths, be cordial and sincere with no expectations. You never know, there could be a rekindling of friendship, but if not that’s fine too.
Losing my best friend was hard, but after accepting that it happened, I came out better for it. Change is the broker of life; it negotiates how we evolve, what remains the same, and what expires.
And that includes friendships.
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