A couple weeks ago I felt sadness at the thought of winter approaching. I struggled to figure out what brought on this sadness. At first, I wondered if the emotion stemmed from the impending coldness and darkness cutting off my ability to go on walks and jogs outdoors, my break from the boringness of staying indoors. Several nights ago, though, I had a dream that helped me realize the true root of my sadness: that this winter marks one year since I broke up with one of my former closest friends.
The end of that friendship felt painful. We struggled to communicate toward its end, so we threw out options. I suggested friendship therapy, she encouraged us to write each other friendship letters instead, and we both considered maybe just talking a little less often. But after she cancelled on a trip I had planned for my birthday pre-Coronavirus, I realized that we had grown into different people. In less than two years she had fallen in enmeshed romantic love and gotten engaged to a white man, and I had grown to value my friends who loved and knew themselves outside of relationships with men, even if or when they did date men.
I remember I felt so sad about the friendship breakup when it happened. I talked with my two best friends about it a lot over FaceTime and Skype, about whether I expected too much from people or if I should have ended the friendship sooner. I wrote angsty blog posts about it. I read two young adult books on friendship, When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk and We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding, that made me cry and helped me so much in my healing process.
I wish we talked more about friendship breakups. Not all of my friendships rise to the level of intensity I had with this friend; I do have friends who I speak to on a more monthly basis or who we do not expect or experience the same amount of emotional intimacy with each other. And yet, my friendship with this ex-close friend served as one of the healthiest relationships I have had in my life. I still feel proud about that healthiness. Even if our connection got turbulent at the end, I know that during the relationship itself, we communicated with active listening, respected each other’s boundaries, and supported one another wholeheartedly.
The other day I listened to BlackPink’s new song “Lovesick Girls,” a dramatic bop about tumultuous relationships, and I thought to myself: wow, I am so glad I don’t feel any angst about any of my relationships right now. In truth, I feel so much better about all my relationships at this point, almost one year later. I feel less pain in my chest when I think about my ex-close friend. Instead, I feel more of a wistfulness and a sincere hope that she and those she cares about are doing well. Since we broke up, I have continued to share my life with my two best friends and to spend affirming time with more casual friends and acquaintances. Through my breakup with this ex-close friend, I more fully recognized that in the people I love the most, I prioritize a sense of self-love and self-confidence that no man or external force can take away.
About a week ago, I had a dream about the friend I broke up with almost a year ago. Though the dream feels blurry now, I remember we met at a diner and talked about our friendship and where we went wrong, as well as where we went right. Even though friendship still is marginalized in our amatonormative society, I sense that more people are talking about its importance, like the amazing actress and producer Issa Rae in her interview about friendship breakups. I hope we can continue investing in friendship just as much if not more than romance, so we can all dream about and create empowering relationships beyond those glorified by patriarchy and heteronormativity.
Reactions to this post? How have you dealt with the end of a close friendship or other form of relationship? My main goal for this post is to defy heteronormative patriarchy and show that relationships outside of romance can and do matter deeply, even if they are not represented in the mainstream or acknowledged with ceremonies like marriage. Also, to anyone who is wondering, yes, I am dancing to BlackPink’s new album in my apartment. “Bet You Wanna,” “Love to Hate Me,” and “Pretty Savage” are easy favorites on top of “How You Like That.” At first I disliked the chorus of “Lovesick Girls” but I’ve grown to love the song especially after writing this post and reframing the song in the context of my friendships! Please feel free to share thoughts on the album too and maybe I’ll write more about it later. Until next post.