I went through a difficult, complicated, and (in retrospect) necessary breakup during the summer of 2013. The gory details aren’t worth going into at this moment in time, but I will do my best to summarize the aftermath of the breakup: he insisted that we remain friends, I obliged against my better judgment, and our relationship became a big, muddled mess thereafter. Conflicted would be the best way to describe my feelings about the situation at the time. My brain told me that maintaining a friendship with my ex-boyfriend would only further complicate my life and inhibit my ability to cope with the separation and move on. My heart, on the other hand, insisted that in being his friend I could somehow, someway get him back. After months of trying, longing, and pining, my brain determined that my heart didn’t know a damn thing.
My feelings came to a head at the end of February. My ex-boyfriend and I had been spending more time together than in previous months, and he somehow reached a place in our “friendship” where he felt comfortable telling me about the fights he was having with his current girlfriend, their sex life, and other details I was in no way ready to hear. I played the role of supportive friend to his face and scorned lover behind his back.
I am in no way attempting to defame his character. I’m only touching on minimal details for the purpose of providing you with context.
It was a typical weeknight in February. I was driving home from work at about 9PM when my best friend called. She asked how I was doing and we engaged in small talk for a few minutes. She heard in my voice that I was not doing as well as I had claim. When she pressed a little harder for information, I finally opened up about the amount of time I was spending with my ex-boyfriend and how it was effecting me. I hit her with full-frontal honesty, and I uttered truths that I wouldn’t dare tell others: I missed him. I still felt as though I was in love with him. I maintained the idea that no one else will love me ever again following his rejection, that I was purely and totally unlovable.
And that is when my best friend fired back with the same caliber of truth: He didn’t love me anymore. Hell, he wasn’t even meeting the bare-minimum requirements of friendship. I was holding on to this relationship for reasons she could not comprehend. I needed to be able to tell the difference between hope and desperation, because that fine line was becoming more and more blurred.
No matter how close and trustworthy my best friend is, the truth from her lips still hurt more than I had anticipated. My initial emotional response was anger. My best friend, typically supportive, had taken #realtalk to a whole new level. Was she impressing her opinion on me because she had never liked my ex-boyfriend anyway? Was she seeing something that I didn’t?
I wanted to come to the conclusion that she was in fact wrong, but I mulled over our conversation for a few days, trying to understand her words and what they implied. I commenced with radio silence for the better part of a week in order to get my head straight. I felt alone, misunderstood, and rejected (though there was no rejection on the part of my best friend). Being alone, you aren’t vulnerable to the pain that can be inflicted on you by others.
The thing about friendship, especially best-friendship, is that if it is a positive-growth oriented relationship, your best friend will hold you accountable and feel comfortable doing so. I did let her know that I was hurt, but I acknowledged her observations as coming from the heart and being of my best interest.
The friendship I held with my ex-boyfriend quickly dissolved from that point forward. I was no longer a rock, nor an island. I recognized the love and support that I had around me and let loved ones in the way I had before I experienced my emotional isolation.
Truths hurt, but they hurt in the way that force you to examine yourself. Lucky for me, my best friend is there to provide them when I’m both at my worst and at my best. Without that level of support, I don’t know where or who I would be today.