You know, when we first met in college, it seemed like a friendship meant to last for life. I remember that day. A mutual friend of ours at the time introduced us, we briefly made eye contact and waved an awkward “hi” at each other in that old art studio down in Maguire Hall. I had a feeling that I had found a kindred spirit, without even knowing much about you. It took a while to earn your trust, but when I finally learned more about you, I was grateful that I had found someone who could identify with being an introvert, even being selectively mute at one point. I found someone truly like me, someone who understood me at a level nobody else had before.
We shared the same interests, the same passions, the same major. We had the same weird sense of humor, the same awkwardness to our personalities. We wanted to help others, we were both graphic designers, creative thinkers and problem solvers. We enjoyed the quieter times in life. It all seemed like a dream. Like it was destiny for us to meet…and to be friends. Perhaps even more than just friends? Who knows. I do know that it was amazing, those years we spent together.
Looking back, it’s horrifically tragic how for one moment, things can seem like fate, like a dream come true, for 7 years to be precise…yet in the blink of an eye, one momentary build-up of frustration destroys the beautiful painting that you’ve both been meticulously working on.
I remember thinking that there was no way something like this could ever happen. A break-up? Us? We would laugh at the thought of that. We had reached the point where we were on the same wavelength about everything. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the universe could separate us. Especially after we both ditched those two toxic mutual friends of ours and bailed on their nightmarish wedding back in 2017. It seemed like destiny that we were meant to be in this for the long run, always there for each other.
But then, in 2018…things got distant. Things became unclear. I noticed that you had put up an emotional wall between us, but I didn’t know why. And in that shroud of uncertainty and distance, I lost myself to insecurity. Insecurity that you were phasing me out of your life in terms of spending time together. Insecurity that maybe, I was no longer the same valuable friend to you that I was in years prior. I was confused…and fearful.
You see, breakups usually manifest as a downward spiral. Distance leads to uncertainty. Uncertainty gives way to fear. Fear begets anger. Anger begets apathy. Apathy…apathy ends relationships.
Really, that’s all it takes. One steady crescendo of frustration, insecurities and false assumptions. That’s all it takes to tragically ruin a seemingly unbreakable bond. I wish I had known that at the time, so as to avoid it.
June 30, 2018. I wish I had stopped myself that day, before I sent those texts. I wish someone had punched me in the face and told me to wake up and to start appreciating having a friend like you in my life. I wish I had approached things from a perspective of solutions and empathy, not frustrations. My past self didn’t want to acknowledge that it would take hard work to rekindle our relationship, as well as me taking more initiative. All I could focus on were the flaws of our relationship. So I texted you my frustrations out of the blue, questioning us…and things spiraled out of control. You gave me an ultimatum, and I reacted by being defensive, cold and shutting down communication with you, despite me leaving the door open to talk again some day.
What followed was a period of 5 months of me not wanting to acknowledge what happened at that moment, how I pushed you away and zero communication between us. I went into an emotional coma. I couldn’t even think about you or what happened between us. My brain had shut down all memories of us. Then…5 months later, I slowly realized that I had messed up. Actually, that’s an understatement. I destroyed your trust in me.
Devastation and bargaining followed. Multiple apologies ensued. Perhaps I should’ve only apologized once. All I know is that I woke up from my emotional coma and started panicking. I feared I was too late…and time would unfortunately prove that assumption correct. You sent me a text on my Mother’s birthday saying that you felt my apologies were “overwhelming” but that you “understood” I was “trying to apologize and make things right”…yet you offered no solutions. Seriously?
It’s sad, because for a while, I really did think it was all my fault. 100%. I went days, weeks, months blaming myself. Telling myself that I was toxic. That I did not deserve love. That I was a horrible human being for making this horrendous mistake of pushing you away. During that time, you became the physical manifestation of my inner critic by your cold behavior. I realize now that it’s seldom all on one person.
I say the following without any hostility: I will never, ever forget how cold, vindictive and brutal you were when things fell apart for us. How you behaved like I was the villain in your story. After all the times I was there for you. I made one mistake, and you did not even reach out to me to talk things out before you privately made the decision to move on.
I will never forget you leaving all of my apology messages on read. Liking and sharing quotes on Instagram and Pinterest directed at me whilst I was trying to reconcile. Blocking my number, but still following me on social media to keep tabs. How you lied to me when you nodded your head “yes” when I told you that “I still see you as my friend” that time I ran into you at Starbucks. How harsh you were when I spilled my heart out to you in my final letter, my final olive branch. It’s like you didn’t even care about the 7 years we spent together as friends. Like I was put into your life just to test you.
You broke me for an entire year with your intentional silence, your ambiguity, your passive aggressive behavior.
I spent so many days waking up, wondering if I could even function. I struggled to eat, sleep or even go to work for months. I was a shell of myself. I was devastated, not just by the fact that we were separated, but that you were so hurtful in your response… or lack thereof.
Regardless, I understand that you were hurt, and you did what you had to do to heal, so I forgive you. I have to forgive you, if only for the sake of my sanity and my healing. I know that I don’t have much leverage to talk about how upset I feel when I was the one who initiated this disaster in the first place, but as the saying goes…it takes two to tango.
All I can do now is breathe, re-focus my thoughts, practice mindfulness, and meditate… in my head, I’ll sometimes count down…”5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Stop, Mike. Stop obsessing. It’s over. Stop. Your best friend is gone. Too much damage has been done. She is never coming back”.
Words fail to express how much regret I feel. I regret causing you, my first love, my best friend, pain to the extent that you felt like you had no choice but to walk away. The emotions I have felt from this have fundamentally changed who I am as a person and how I interact with people. I will never be the same after this tragedy. I can hardly look back on our memories in joy or fondness, to be honest. There are no bittersweet feelings behind this separation, no “thanks for the memories, it was good times”. Only sadness…darkness.
This was not how things were supposed to end between us. You know that and I sure as hell know that.
To anyone reading this, I offer you these lessons as advice so that you don’t repeat my mistakes. I wish this pain and guilt upon nobody and I ask that you heed my words. Please…if you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who truly understands you, please let them know how much you appreciate them. Don’t let your frustrations with that person overshadow your love for them. It’s OK to be frustrated with our loved ones, but promise yourself to work things out, as long as the other person is willing. Giving up is not worth it. And if you love them, tell them. Don’t withhold your emotions from them. It’s not fair to either of you.
To you, my old friend. if you’re reading this…I hope that you know that I do not wish you any negativity. Quite the opposite, in fact. I wish you nothing but abundance, happiness and success. You deserve it and you deserve a healthier relationship than the one we had. I pray that perhaps in our next lives here on Earth, we can make our friendship work and not have it end in tragedy, silence, bitterness and tears.
Though I know that I must move on, I still miss you. I never wanted to say goodbye like this, knowing that I am essentially dead to you. This is not a happy ending to our relationship whatsoever. There is no positivity to be gained from this, only painful lessons.
I’m sorry that I gave up on finishing the beautiful painting that was our relationship, one we worked on so intimately together. I’m sorry that I initiated the conclusion to our story before we could even reach the climax. I’m sorry that I let my insecurities get the better of me. I’m sorry that I didn’t know better at the time than to let my emotions take the wheel in the midst of a challenging moment. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you as a friend when you needed me.
But most of all…
I am sorry that I gave up on us.