By Christine Elizabeth
Friendships come and go, but sometimes there are the ones that we wished would last forever. If you had told me that I would lose the only best friend I ever had in college over a misunderstanding I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have told you that my girl L was in my life forever.
I already planned that she would be a bridesmaid in my wedding and that she would be a godmother to my babies. I pictured going on girl’s weekends and more. We aren’t friends anymore, so all of these dreams I had were shattered. It might seem silly that I took it so hard but it’s not.
She was someone that was there for me in some of my hardest moments and helped me grow in my faith. I looked up to her and admired her commitment to the way she chose to lead her life. Losing her called for a grieving period.
I went through a period of depression over losing my best friend. I started blaming myself for “being too much” for her or for always “talking too much” when we did talk. I thought if I hadn’t been such a burden in her life, maybe I would still have her as a friend. I really was blindsided so I wanted to try to go back in my memories to figure out where it might have started to go wrong.
This was not the best thing to do, and I don’t recommend it if you experience something similar. I knew nothing could change the past, and that even if those things were true, it didn’t make me a terrible person. I am an imperfect human being trying her best. I took my pain to prayer every day and pushed through each day despite the loneliness I felt in my heart.
I had to take it one day at a time. I thought about how much I had loved my friend. St. Thomas Aquinas defines love as “willing the good of the other” and because I knew I loved L for the gift she had been to me for 6 years, I wanted what was best for her. I had to let her go, and not try to “fix things.”
I also discovered that I deserved a best friend that wouldn’t judge me for my flaws or inclinations. Most importantly, I noticed that I had held L above a lot of things in my life, and even prioritized her over my relationship with God. God should always come first in anyone’s life.
I had gotten used to leaning on her and had to find new ways to deal. My therapist was a huge help during this time and got me through the part where it felt like I couldn’t go on without her. I discovered the gift of being open to new friendships and relationships and I don’t think I would have if I didn’t lose L.
I now have several friends that probably fall in the category of best friend and it’s been such a gift. I always do my best to make sure I am not putting them before God’s will for my life. And if I am texting someone too much (that’s a thing) I try to check on my heart and see if there’s something I am trying to cope with by texting that person all the time and for me there usually is.
It’s been 2 years since we officially ended our friendship. I have learned the value of being in friendship with myself. There is literally no one in the world that can fill the void I am feeling but God. I am a broken person who makes mistakes and this process has taught me to take a step back and focus on loving myself and about having healthy relationships with boundaries. I have learned when to step back and have “me time” and when to push through discomfort and be social in a situation where I don’t want to be.
I haven’t mastered it perfectly, but I’ve been able to use these last two years to focus on me. It’s included therapy, prayer, trial and error and taking risks. I now live with five other wonderful women who all encourage me each week at our weekly dinners. I even went to mass this morning with one of these women. These women have seen me cry and go through some challenges already, but we’ve made a commitment to each other when we chose to live there.
We want to help each other grow closer to the Lord, and that is stronger than just saying “I want to be a good person.” We have a “why” for all that we do and I think this helps anyone when they are face to face with human suffering, even if it’s not their own.
Sometimes I still get angry thinking about not having L in my life, but those are the days where I am able to choose gratitude for the time we did have together and accept that she was only meant to be in my life for a short time. If that’s not enough, I go for a run, do a more intense workout to get my frustrations out, do some writing, watch my favorite series, do some baking and most importantly spend a little extra time in the chapel. Usually one of these things works and I will have already forgotten about what got me so angry in the first place.
Please know that there is no shame in losing a friend this way, for being the one to walk away from a friendship, or with struggling with friendships in general. It’s not easy to find the right people in our lives, but when we do it makes all the discomfort and struggle worth it. We have to always focus on growing in friendship with ourselves and that means trying new things and being active in finding out what brings you to the point of feeling most fully alive. It’s worth it, trust me.
P.S. You are enough.