To Have Loved and Lost

Three months ago, one of my best friends broke up with me. It might sound like melodrama to use that expression, usually reserved for passion and romance, but I stand by my choice. Our friendship was intense, zealously guarded, emotional and powerful. Without it, I might not be a writer, I might not be a feminist, I might not be living in this country, I would not be me.

Sometimes, I find myself insecure and confused over facets of the relationship that I would never have thought to call into question at the time. But if I try to look back on our six years with a clear mind, without the knot in my chest, I know that it wasn’t toxic, or full of drama or pain. An inverse Princess and the Pea, the odd sharp turn is inevitable in any relationship, and had always quickly receded into the soft and safe comfort of the love and trust we built for one another.

Until it didn’t.

Rewriting something on the way out the door is easy to do, hey – words are our trade after all. Pull some ammunition from an ever-ready arsenal and sitting across the table it’s unlikely you’re going to miss your target. But they won’t stick, they can’t wound deeply – not if they aren’t made of something substantial to begin with. I could apologize for a fourth time, but deep down I know, this is nothing to do with me.

Still – I’ve lost a lot of trust. As I never could have believed that this would happen, ‘why shouldn’t it happen again?’ I ask myself, despite the people who love me reassuring me they are here for the long haul.  I’ve hidden myself away a bit, taken Facebook off my phone, cancelled on people last minute because they made a date with me – and not my anxiety.

Today is a bad day. My friend, my ex-friend, is getting married in one week. A day that I was meant to be a part of. A day that I would have written a checklist for ahead of time, the eager Bridesmaid at the ready with a needle and thread, a spare bottle of water, tissues for when things get emotional. On top of the staples, I’d planned bits and pieces, the way we always showered each other with generosity. A watercolour portrait of her and her new husband drawn from a beautiful photo, painstakingly tracked down well-wishes from half the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, a card marked with tears of joy for this next chapter in her life, as well as messages from my kids who cried when I told them that there had been a mix up, and actually they couldn’t go to the wedding of someone they loved. “No,” I replied to them, working hard to keep my voice steady. “Of course you didn’t do anything wrong.”  Blocked on social media, now I won’t even see the day in frozen hindsight. I hope someone else remembers the needle and thread, although I think I’ll keep those tissues close by.

These past three months have been like an aftershock, small ripples that catch me off guard. I’ve found two new podcasts for when I’m walking from place to place. I’ve finished a writing project that’s been 5 years in the making. I’ve reconnected with friends who I’d lost touch with – not through a sudden break, but slowly, like sand through an hourglass, busy lives making one month turn into another. I’d like to say that I’m okay, but I think that’s a lot for me to ask of myself. After all, I’ve never done this before.

People sometimes ask me why I write about personal things in such a public way. Actually, it’s probably the question that those who read my blog ask me the most. After all, I’m not being paid for this, and it could end up causing drama or even hurt, although that’s never my intention.

Of course, the writing itself is cathartic, but so is the sharing. I will likely spend years grappling with what happened to our relationship, and how it could be less painful to exclude me from the most important day of her life than to have me by her side, or heck – standing at the back of a crowded hall. I can’t make myself get over this any quicker than time will allow.

For today though, the act of writing and sharing lets some of the hurt and confusion that I’m feeling out into the world. As it does, and I can’t explain it better than this – I feel that corresponding weight lifting from my chest. Those feelings might find someone else who recognises their own pain in my words, it often does, and those are some of my favourite moments as a writer. As for the pain itself? I’m not naïve enough to think it won’t be back, this week especially. But for a moment, as I hit publish – I can let it go, for a while.

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