One Year

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.

So appreciate this thread that highlights the pain of losing a close friendship! While my closest friends understood, I hesitated to talk about it with many people given how romance is prioritized above friendship. Full Twitter thread here.

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.

I appreciate this thread from Mia Mingus so much! My two best friends are so emotionally intelligent and wise, compassionate, full of self-love and healthy confidence. My relationships with them are so empowering and affirming. I am so in love with them. I’ve never met a man who’s come close to their glory.

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

7 responses to “One Year

  1. I admire the friendships you have and had. They sound so rich. I sometimes wonder if friendships have a set life span. As we grow and change, the bonds of friendships sometimes break. I don’t see people writing about adult friendships – from how to make friends, maintaining them, nourishing a relationship to ending one. This is even more true when it comes to gay friends. So please keep writing about this.

    Have a great week Thomas and thanks for leaving so many nice comments on my blog yesterday!

    • Thanks for your validation about the friendships in my life Matt! Yeah that’s such an interesting point re: friendships having a set life span. Aside from the heteronormative/patriarchal prioritization of the nuclear family and romance, I’m not sure why friendships would have a set life span compared to say, family bonds or romantic relationships. Here’s to hoping that with more representation and effort that friendships can be made to last long if they are healthy and fulfilling. Hope your past week went well too Matt!

  2. I hope you can feel a bit brighter now you’ve worked out what it was that was making you sad. Autumn and winter are cosy times too and running in the rain is fun!

    I value my friendships highly and at the moment I’m just devastated that I can’t see Emma, my best friend: this is the longest we’ve gone without physically seeing each other in our 27 years of friendship. We do video calls, have a Reading Night (or video call night) of a Thursday when we read the same book (and have the two next same books stacked up ready) and Facebook message almost every day as well as being in the same photo-a-day group so seeing an image from each other’s lives every day but still. I cherish my local friends who I’ve not known as long but we are close and take care of one another in various ways, and thank goodness for them during These Times.

    • Yess thank you for the warmth and support! I do love working through my emotions. I want to reread some of your running posts from the winter months – do you truly always run outdoors even in the winter, or do you sometimes adopt indoor alternatives?

      Also, love hearing about your friendship with Emma as well as your local friends. Totally resonate in that this form of social support is so important during pandemic times.

      • Yes, the only time I don’t run outdoors is if there is actual ice on the ground, and even then I have been known to put my yaktrax on and walk to the park to run on the grass. I have plenty of warm running gear and also lights and hi-viz for dark times. I do have a cross trainer and rower but I just love being outside – and remember it’s pretty temperate here, so it’s rarely dangerous to go out. I haven’t been blogging about running recently as it’s so hard with all the rules – I’m always one step more locked down than the rules tell us but then get criticised for that, so I decided to stop writing about it – but it gets mentioned obviously with my photo a day pics.

        It’s Emma’s birthday on Wednesday and the books I bought her have arrived today – hooray!

  3. eeeeee

    this is an interesting take … have you ever given thought to neurodivergent people that don’t have the energy / capacity for multiple close relationships? like, the act of socializing and even exchanging texts can be exhausting to some people that synthesizing all your social needs into one person is a godsend. but yeah friend break ups are hard and they really make me clam up for years after, especially if they’re close like that… the thought of prying yourself open to share with someone else just for them to be a near stranger in a few years… phew, it’s tough

    • Thank you for this perspective! Yes, I have thought of that. Totally hear that having one person can be easier (though I’m not neurodivergent, I feel pretty much at capacity with my two best friends and would only make an additional exception for someone special). I question though why it’s often a romantic partner that takes the place of being that “one person.” Not question as in I wonder why – I’m fairly confident it’s because of patriarchy and heteronormativity – but yeah I think your perspective is a helpful one to analyze this issue with. And yeah thanks for validating my feels re: the friendship break up! It was tough and I feel happy with what I learned from that experience and where I am with it now. (:

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