Hello Aunty X,
I cut off a friend from high school a few of years ago, and I’m still hurt over it. When we were buddies, we had complete codependence. She was arrogant, passive-aggressive, and our disagreement with them was very toxic.
It’s not really a possibility for us to become friends again, but I’d like to get over the hurt of losing them. I don’t know what to do. I’ve experienced breakups in romantic relationships and recovered within a few months, but for some reason this breakup with a friend is different. Our social circles have recently begun to slightly intersect, which has made me experience these emotions once more. I haven’t spoken to or seen her but just thinking about everything that went down and how we fell out feels like an irritated wound itch. I feel somewhat pathetic. Any advice?
I’m sorry to hear about you and your friend. Even if the relationship needed to come to an end (it sounds like it did), it still hurts to lose someone. And indeed, losing a friend is a special kind of loss, one that is bound to feel different from, say, a romantic breakup.
Different kinds of losses are bound to hit us in different ways. There are many shades of disappointment, sadness, and loneliness in life. Lately, I’ve been sampling them all like a run-through writer with a sweet tooth in an ice cream shop. To be frank, I’m taking some L’s lately, as the kids say. Lots of L’s. A beautiful collection of L’s to place in one of those glass awards that people love. For me, I might show off my creepy collection of L’s. You know what I mean.
Which is to say, Peace, that I, too, am trying to wrap my head around the idea of losing people and around loss more generally. Lately, I’m feeling like I’ve wasted a ton of time on people, projects, and ideas that never made it to fruition. I’ll never get those hours back. What was it all for?
But in my more lucid moments, moments that come and go like any other, I’m able to better appreciate loss, what it is, what it does, and how it should be approached. Loss isn’t just a part of life. Loss is life. Loss is how life begets itself.
If you pay attention, Peace, you will notice all the little losses that come and go in only a day’s time. That Buka store you love to go to, the one you think of as so reliable because it’s right down the street and open at absurd hours of the night, stops selling at 12am that amala or Jollof rice you always get. A miniature heartbreak, never shared because it’s too trivial. You log into Facebook, God only knows why, maybe because Twitter is dying and you’re morbidly curious, and you see that your classmates from high school look so different now. They’ve aged. You get emotional on the way.
Little losses, all the time and every day, right down to the cellular level as our bodies die and regenerate and die again, propelling us forward and clearing the way to tomorrow, a tomorrow that, even if it feels an awful lot like today or yesterday, is nonetheless entirely different, whether you realize it or not.
To move is to lose, Peace. Our world is one in constant motion. It’s painful when someone or something we cared about goes away, no matter the reason. It’s a different kind of pain, perhaps even an awkward one, to lose someone who’s still with us, whose comings and goings are still legible, crossing paths now and again, reminding us of a person we once considered close.
But as surely as there is loss, there’s the living. There’s connection, happiness, warmth, excitement, and new things. Yes, losing a friend is hard, and it’s hard in different ways from a romantic breakup, which at the very least has more templates and scripts for handling it.
My hope for you, though, is that you’re able to take the good things from your friendship, to let yourself keep those things with you as you go on your way, even as you acknowledge what you once had with this person is now gone. If you can forgive yourself, do so. If you can forgive them, do so. That doesn’t mean reaching out and trying to patch things up. It means finding peace with the way things are.
And who knows, Peace? For you, as much as for me, tomorrow could hold absolutely anything.
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