My Best Friend and I Aren't Friends Anymore
At the end of high school, I became friends with someone who treated me the way I saw other people treat their friends. My last year of school was tough because I was always dancing or doing homework, battling an eating disorder, with limited time (or energy) to see anyone outside of my parents and dog. This friend and I developed our relationship after an entire year of math class and a free period together. He was the only person I felt I could talk to about all my internal struggles, someone who genuinely cared.
We spent the entire summer leading up to college together, laughing, going to Six Flags, frolfing, and other silly things. I'll never forget the day he left for school, a whole two weeks before me, crying like a baby in his driveway as we tried to pretend that things wouldn't change.
However, a jealous boyfriend my first year changed all of that quickly, as he and I slowly lost touch until all of the sudden it was completely gone. All our laughs, jokes, secrets, phone calls, completely vanished. I remember resenting my then-boyfriend for forcing us apart, but being even angrier with myself for allowing another person to control or influence my actions.
Of course that relationship didn't last and my friend and I later reconnected, seeing each other every few months when he'd come home from school for a weekend. I decided I would go visit him for a weekend at school since he'd been to Chicago so many times.
A few days before I was supposed to leave he called me demanding to know the real reason I was coming to visit. I think it goes without saying the summer we spent together before college was not exclusively a friendship. He wanted me to tell him the feelings we had two summers before would still be there when I came to visit but I couldn't - I had simply moved on, which did not make him happy. We argued and called each other names, with me hanging up on him before I lost my temper entirely. Needless to say, I didn't make it to my bus two days later, and we never spoke after that.
A few weeks ago, I tried reaching out hoping a phone call to catch up would remind us of the ease of conversation we had, the way anyone would with an old friend. But it was clear in his tone of voice he did not want to talk to me, wasn't interested in my attempts to accept we both were arguing over nothing when that one call happened. It didn't work that way. He explicitly told me he didn't want to catch up and I decided to leave it be.
I was disappointed. This was someone I felt a genuine closeness to for the first time in my young adult life, completely a part of the past now. I know no one is friends with their exes, but it wasn't mutual tiredness of each other or loss of love that separated us. College is what tore us apart when it came down to it. But that didn't matter because so much had happened between then and that phone call two years ago.
I understand. How can you keep forgiving each other for hurting one another after it's happened so many times? It's exhausting. If I had to explain why I reached out in the first place I'd probably say it was because I've been thinking about my high school post-grad summer as I'm now experiencing the college version. A lot of people move back home for a little and my most recent trip to my parents' home reminded me of that time.
I understand why he didn't want to talk to me. But knowing that he wasn't interested for sure instead of constantly wondering if there was any mutual connection left would have been worse.
Accepting that a relationship, of any kind, is completely over with no leftovers to evaluate is freeing. At first, I was bummed to say the least. I had so many fond memories of our times together but things change, people change, and time changes us (queue Changes by David Bowie?). It's sad to admit, but this is how it works out for a lot of people.
If there could be any takeaway or advice I could share on this experience, I'd tell you to not dwell on the what-ifs or could-haves because this is what really happens when you move away or grow into adulthood. You have to learn to accept that not everyone will want to stay in touch or even hear you're doing well. It's possible they don't care or that reconnecting opens too many old wounds to bother with reliving the emotional pain you'd tried so hard to bury.
Don't be disappointed if this happens. Sometimes maintaining (or at least attempting to maintain) old relationships like this one can be more harmful and hinder your growth. It's the nature of growing up and maturing. Don't be like me - recognize when it's time to accept something is over. For good.