Time to Say Goodbye: When Friends Break Up

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The Break Up
I was used to military life as an Army Brat. The canon firing at five in the morning and evening, the travelling, the moving, the pageantry, the galas. It was just a part of life. I had even gotten used to saying “see you later”  to friends.  But the older I got and the longer we stayed, the “see you laters” turned into painful goodbyes.

For whatever reason I hadn’t anticipated doing the same as an adult. Sure, people move for their careers, start families, and have bigger responsibilities than when we were on the playground or in the dorm but I just didn’t think I’d be in a position to have to say goodbye again. But here I was.

This time there was no larger force tearing me from someone, it had just run its course. The person I was when we met was gone. I required healthy communication, accessibility, and honesty. This person wasn’t there yet and I wasn’t going to wait anymore for things I knew weren’t demanding or even difficult. I had grown as a person, she just grew in a different direction. I had to learn the hard way that friends break up too.


The Four Steps to Break Up Recovery
I had no idea what to do when it happened. I felt like hell and didn’t know who to turn to. We had so many mutual friends I didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to pick sides and I honestly felt that they wouldn’t pick me anyways. So instead of dealing with the pain I tried to avoid it. You would think by now, after all the things I’ve experienced in my short life that I would know that avoidance NEVER works. Drugs, alcohol, sex, whatever your vice, it only keeps it at bay for a while. Eventually it will rear its ugly head, stronger than it was when you first pushed it away.

I went through my friend break up at the same time as my break up with my ex. It was ROUGH. Like, crying in the shower, wailing to Robyn, eating Chinese food and watching Golden Girls nonstop, rough. Ok so I do the last two all the time but I was going through. Naturally I thought I’d find my solution with boys. I’d never had a “single and ready to mingle” phase. I was too shy, too analytical, and too insecure to ever consider it but a bunch of bullshit will turn anyone into a willing participant.

I went on dates. I hooked up. I changed the way I dressed. I convinced myself that I felt better, that this was helping, that I was empowered but each morning the pain would come back to wake me up. After a while the phone stopped ringing, I started resenting people more and more, and I became an even bigger mess. This was obviously not the solution but I kept trying to make it happen.

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Damnit I know Regina!

I knew that I was putting myself in positions I wasn’t ready for and becoming increasingly reckless. So I waited for some things to taper down and cleared out my cellphone. I followed the next couple steps out of order and at my own pace but had I known better, I would have done better. Hindsight is a total betch.

Grieve: Cry them tears baby girl. Get them out of your system. Doesn’t matter if it’s only two sobfests or a full on Broadway production, this is your time and your pain. Do what is best for you but get it out of your system. It’s ok if you have to circle back to this step multiple times. As time passes, you’ll be strong enough to get from under it. Until then, netflix, yoga pants, pinterest, and chocolate are your best friends.

Realize There’s No Turning Back: Don’t hold out hope that you will be friends again, that’s a waste of emotion and energy. There are things that are more deserving of your attention than waiting for someone to figure out how awesome your are, forgive you, or whatever the circumstance may be. Accept that this is what it is and move on. Yes, it’s more difficult but it’s also more rewarding. You gain perspective and start aligning all of your relationships to your improved standards. You start seeing people for who they are and your friendships for what they are.

Even if this is just a phase and you become friends again, it will not and cannot be the same. The same got you to break up. The same wasn’t good enough. It’s going to be different because it has to be. 

Check Your Baggage: I wrote a post about this you can read here but I’ll boil it down for you. In order to insure that you problems don’t become a pattern, you have to take a good look in the mirror. What baggage are you bringing to the table? No one should bear the brunt of a resentment or anger meant for someone else. Figure out your hangups and see if some of them even led you to the break up. For example, I realized that I gravitate towards emotionally unavailable and stunted folks. I make excuses for them, I give them much more than I ever receive, and then I get angry at them for being exactly who they always showed themselves to be. See how ridiculous that is? As a great sage once said, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Let It Go: Not that I’m chockfull of shameless self-promotion today…but I am. I wrote about letting go of it all a few months back as well. You’ve got to let stuff go. Your life, or at least the quality of your life, depends on it. Holding on to the pain you’ve suffered through, the memories of being done wrong, the anger of abandonment, the fear of neglect, ALL it is is emotional constipation. We both know how that’ll end up…

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When you invest so much time and love in a person only to not get a return on your investment, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been robbed. You haven’t. People aren’t permanent. Nothing is really. That’s ok. If you made great memories, treasure them and the time you did have.  Learn from the situation and guard your heart so the next time someone walks into your life, you’ll be prepared to be better, do better, and feel better. 🙂

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P.S. If you haven’t even gotten to the break up yet, here’s a guide to get you through it. Let me know how it works out for you!

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