When I was much younger, I had a friend. She decided we were best friends, I never really had a say in the matter. We had fun together; we were so young. Lots of laughs, private jokes, prank calls (it was the ’90’s) late nights, sneaking out, sharing secrets. It was a perfect high school friendship. And it probably should have stayed there.
After we became adults, there was a distinct shift in our relationship. We took drastically different paths in life. I was happy with my path, but she seemed to want to drag me to hers, bring me to her level, so to speak. I thought we were on parallel, if not different, roads, but she obviously did not. And then the need for escape began to creep into my brain. I needed a break from the person who was supposed to be my best friend, the one person in the world who was supposed to be my shelter, my soft place to fall. I was breaking. She made me feel lesser than, judged. All of her compliments were double-sided, I was a beautiful girl, but my style was plain and unappealing to the opposite sex. She convinced me to stay in unsatisfying relationships, because anything, ANYTHING, in her mind, was better than being alone.
I tried to confide in her, about the secret pain I carried with me everywhere. I hoped it was safe to share those truths with her. I needed to talk to someone so desperately. The secrets were burning a hole in my belly, killing me from the inside out. When she bothered to listen to me at all, she’d just stare impatiently, waiting for me to stop talking so she could begin. When I left her, I felt drained, sucked dry, a shell, empty, worthless. Was this friendship? Is this how women really treated each other? At least I had a best friend, someone to call on weekends, someone to fill lonely days. But was it worth it?
I ended up losing this friend in the end. I regret the way I handled the end of our friendship, but I don’t regret ending it. I lost her, but I gained self-respect, freedom of expression, a sense of calm, the right to be at ease in my own skin. I’ve found new friends in the years that followed. No one, yet, that I would call a best friend, but I’ll never stop searching. The prospect that my kindred spirit is still out there propels me onward, like hope always does.