My mom has always told me that God, in strange and mysterious ways, filters out the people He doesn’t want in your life, the people He knows will only one day bring you down. And I believe that, wholeheartedly.
Yet this time around, it’s not making me feel any better.
As friends came and went while growing up, I could always remember the above, and it would help me get over it. It wasn’t me; it was them–or would be them–and God knew it. So, he drew us apart.
But when you’ve just lost a friend, your best friend–a friend who, in your mind, is essentially a sibling–it’s a difficult concept to grasp.
No, she didn’t die, but she might as well have.
We met when I was five and she six. Apparently, I knew her little brother from before then, but I don’t remember that. The only thing I recall is that same little brother begging me to help him find his mommy, and then there was my soon-to-be best friend.
We hit it off and were inseparable for the next eleven years, but I’ll spare you the details of that fantastic friendship–of that sisterhood–and jump to when it all changed into what it is now.
To where I changed into what I am now.
During the summer before our sophomore year of high school started, I traveled a lot, and when I finally got back for the last month off, my family got a brand new puppy. And our home was under construction. And I had all of my summer assignments left to complete.
Needless to say, I was on house arrest for the rest of that summer.
I explained it multiple times to my friend, but she just didn’t seem to understand. In her mind, the puppy could survive perfectly on its own in a home full of strange men rebuilding things. In her mind, school work could wait. In her mind, she was my first priority–for that’s how it was the past 11 years of our lives–and how dare I think otherwise.
She freaked out on me, told me she had a new friend, and said it was all my fault–among other things that I have blocked out of my memory since.
Now, I’m a nice person. I don’t judge others, and I don’t tell people nasty things. If I have an issue, I take it up kindly. In my mind, treating people poorly is just wrong.
And she knew this. She also knew that I have more compassion in my little toe than a lot of people do in their whole bodies. She knew me better than I knew myself, and she played with that. She knew exactly what to say to make me hate myself for putting other things before her. She manipulated and controlled me, and I didn’t even know it. I was–and had always been–her little marionette.
I didn’t realize that until a long while later when we were so distanced that I was finally able to reflect sans her bias. I guess that’s why I’m so bitter and angry now (because I didn’t even realize I was being used for nearly a decade and a half) and was so sorry and upset then.
I don’t know how many times I apologized to her, but it was a lot. And I think I cried for two days straight. I simply believed everything she told me, as I had always done, because I loved her so much.
Side Note: Finding out in retrospect that her love wasn’t always returned…Well, you can imagine what that’s like, living a thirteen-year-long lie.
Eventually, though, we made up, and we really tried our hardest to get back to the way we were, to act like everything was fine.
But it wasn’t.
Plain and simple, I was still angry at her for freaking out over such a simple thing, for being so possessive of me, and she was still mad at me for “abandoning her.”
Yet she was the one with the new best friend.
Oh, yeah, you thought that was just a threat? Well, so did I. It wasn’t, though. She replaced me with the girl who lived down the street from her, the girl who she told me everyday since we met her in sixth grade how much she hated her, the girl who she didn’t get how anyone could be friends with– myself included.
Yes, nothing like the good old I’ma-date-your-other-friend-now-that-I’m-done-with-you tactic. Who knew it could hurt just as much in friendships as it does in dating?
The actual replacement itself wasn’t what hurt, though. It was its permanence.
Yes, she had replaced me in the past, but it was more of an “I’m bored of you” type of thing where she’d hang out with someone nonstop for a few months until they broke her little heart. Then she’d come crying back to me, the one who had never left her despite being abandoned herself. She was always so grateful that I stayed despite her stupidity.
And I was always so happy to.
So when she replaced me with that girl, I simply thought, “Here we go again!” But it turns out that that replacement before sophomore year was final.
I hoped for so long that it wouldn’t be (despite how unhealthy our relationship was, as I would later realize). I hoped for so long that it would truly be just another phase, except dragged out a little longer. For three years, actually, I waited, blinded, holding onto the promises we once made of growing old together, of being at each other’s weddings, of raising our kids next door, of moving in together during college. I was so blinded by the promise of friendship, by the uncondition-ality that she made me feel we had, that I never saw what was really going on: that she was both genuinely and wrongfully angry at me because I had finally (even though unintentionally) given her a taste of her own medicine. She was mad because she finally knew how it felt to be left completely on her own by the one she thought would always be there.
And three years later, she still feels same. Three years later, it’s still, somehow, my fault.
Over those three years, I struggled a lot. Some days I hated her, some days I hated myself. Back then, I hadn’t yet realized what was truly going on, so I was always an emotional wreck. And as an introvert, things got rough.
If I had only let go of her then when it happened, I wouldn’t be so bitter now. But I didn’t know any better. I tried to hang on. I tried to keep her and everything we had from slipping through our fingers, but every time I got near, I was simply pushed away. Every time I tagged along, I was blatantly ignored. Every time I tried my hardest to show how much I truly cared, she tried her hardest to show how much she couldn’t care less.
I kept holding on because I didn’t want to let her down and actually become the horrible best friend I knew she thought I was. I wanted to prove her wrong, to make her feel bad for making me feel bad.
So, for three years, I hung on to the girl I helped through countless dangerous emotional struggles. For three years, I held on to the only girl outside of my family who I could spend ten hours straight with doing nothing but sitting on the couch watching TV. For three years, I held on to the relationship I thought was beautiful and genuine and real. For three years, I clung on desperately, trying with all my might and capability to hold the strings she was so fervently unraveling together. For three years, I held on, still considering her my one true and blue best friend among my many other best friends.
But for those three years, she was simply unraveling us faster than I could keep up.
And three years later, she’s still ripping us apart, unconvinced that I’m the person I used to be–the person that I’ve always been–despite three extra years of counting her as the main person who makes up the other half me.
But today, the counting has finally stopped.
Today is the day in which her mom will marry her soon-to-be step-dad. Today is the day that the man who saved her mom from a borderline abusive relationship–a man it took many, many years of my convincing for her to like–will permanently become a part of her life. Today is the day that she dreaded up until the past year when she finally saw the good that he brought into her world. Today is the day I’ve been hoping and praying for since eight years ago when I found out her parents were getting a divorce. Today, as she now realizes, is going to be the best day of her life thus far.
And I wasn’t even invited.
Normally, I would comment on that, but I just don’t have the words to explain how that feels.
So, today is the day where I stop saying, “Oh, I once went there with my best friend–er, well, uh, my kind of best friend. I’m sorry, it’s very complicated right now. But, yeah, I’ve been there.” Today is the day where I can finally stop hoping for a remedy and just let go of the itty-bitty threads I’ve been futilely trying to keep together, the threads that have consumed almost all of my time and energy for the past three years. Today is the day where, even though I’m giving up–even though I’m incredibly heartbroken–I can pause, feel joy, and just take a moment to breathe.
Today is the day in which I will finally swallow the bitter pill our relationship had been and simply be happy, for today is the first day in thirteen years where I can actually live my life.
I don’t have to worry about her anymore. I no longer have to send her a monthly how’s-it-going courtesy text just so she doesn’t think I’ve abandoned her the way she’s abandoned me. For the rest of my life, unless I want to, I don’t have to care about or deal with her ever again. And, even though that kills me to say–for I will always care about her and never forgive myself for letting us get so broken that we couldn’t be fixed–it’s still also serving as such a relief.
The anchor’s been lifted, and I can finally sail away. And as much as my brain is saying that I should keep trying, that I shouldn’t be relieved, my heart is saying that it’s okay, that it’s right to finally give myself a break.
And, just in case you didn’t know, I only listen to my heart when it comes to living.
And today is the day where my heart has changed.
So, sure, the lack of closure is making my mind go crazy, but the events of the past three years are making my heart keep saying that I never really meant to her what she meant to me. And, as my trig teacher in high school once said, “Why even want someone who doesn’t want you?”
So, thanks, God, for today, for today You have shown me just why we’ve grown so distant. She wasn’t good for me; she never was and never will be. Yes, the thirteen years we spent together are making this a hard thing to accept, but I’m getting there. I’m sorry for doubting You before. From the bottom of my heart, thanks for showing me her true colors, and thanks for the lack of a wedding invite. It’s a terrific lesson to have under my belt in life, and, as much as it hurts, I am grateful.
Yet I still pray that You never let anyone else experience this kind of pain ever again…because it’s awful. There are no words out there to accurately describe just how awful…
In Jesus’ name, as I will always pray,