You were numb, but it had to be done. You told them straight up that you two were growing apart. That you no longer felt good for each other. They had stopped confiding in you, you knew that much, but you didn’t know why. You knew they made you feel awful, like you were walking on eggshells.
“So, what now?” They asked.
“Either we work this out, or we accept that this friendship drifted apart months ago.” You replied, trying to stop your voice from cracking. You didn’t want to do this. Didn’t want to end the friendship this way, but it had to be done. It was no longer a friendship. Not really. They made you feel things you never wanted to feel again – the pain, the guilt, the self-doubt. Despite all the good memories you had with them, it wasn’t worth it. Not really.
You agreed to try to work it out, but you knew by the end of the day that that wasn’t going to happen. The rips were too big. They couldn’t be sewn back together, no matter how hard you tried. So, there was no big explosion. No huge fallout where you both said things that couldn’t be unspoken. No. It was subtle. Changes in the dynamic over time. Changes in the trust, in how you made each other feel.
So, you’re numb. Because there’s really no one to blame. That’s how it is sometimes. Friends drift apart when they grow. They change and no longer need each other or can no longer be the person the other needs. That’s just how the world works. And it hurts, because friend breakups aren’t the ones you’re taught to expect. You go into a romantic relationship knowing there’s a 50% chance you’ll break up. But you kind of expect a friendship to last forever, no matter how naïve that may be.
You can still cherish the good memories, whilst recognising the pain from others. You can still remember that they were a good friend in some months, whilst accepting that there were times you needed them when they weren’t there. You’ve done the hardest thing. You’ve let go of someone who hurt you, even if they didn’t mean to, even if they didn’t realise they were doing that.
Letting go is the hardest part.
Now is the time to move forward.
You’re off to university. To a place of so many new people. So, you pick yourself up, remind yourself that you’re worthy of friendship – no matter what that voice in the back of your head is telling you – and you get ready.
Okay, so it’s hard at first. You’re overwhelmed in your lectures, and you feel too self-conscious to make small talk. Everyone else is engaged in conversations, as if they already know everyone there. How are they doing this? You take a breath and decide to try again the next day, opting to focus purely on the work.
And the next day it works! Okay, so it might have just been to introduce yourself and see what they thought of this week’s reading, but it’s a start.
You push yourself to join a club, and holy cow. You fit right in. No awkwardness, no biting your tongue. You say what you think, and they welcome you. You don’t try to be anyone but yourself. Despite the years of being told otherwise, you are enough.
So yeah, friendship breakups are tough. Letting go hurts like hell. But you dust yourself off. You remind yourself that life goes forward. And you move on.