In many ways, losing a friend ― or friends ― is worse than the loss of a relationship. It makes you question everything about yourself in a way that losing a significant other. The thoughts that run through your head range from anger to disappointment, trying to work out if it was something you did or said. If there’s anything you could have done differently.
In my case, I think there’s very little I could have done differently. It was a product of time and circumstance, yet, over two years later, that still doesn’t stop the pain and hurt from occasionally taking over. Despite this, there are a few things that I have found that help.
1. Social Media
While social media is fantastic for making the world a smaller place, it can be a cruel place when a friendship comes to an end. You may not want, or be ready, to unfriend your former friends. But, at the very least, make use of the unfollow button. Trust me, when you see your former best friend’s wedding pictures, there’s a chance it will cut you to the bone quicker than a knife.
I know we live in a society where there seem to be great extremes between those who keep everything bottled up and those who see a therapist every week, but please talk to someone. It can be your mama, your husband, a friend (not one you have in common), or even a stranger. If you want, you can email me. Whoever it is, talk to them. Tell them of your pain, cry, hug. Your thoughts and feelings are swirling around inside your mind at a hundred miles an hour, but talking will help you make sense of what has happened.
In my case, I didn’t ever really talk about how I felt and then, just over a month ago, they got married and I lost it. After having a cry and talking to my husband, I realized I was still angry because I believe in being fair and treating others how you would wish to be treated yet I hadn’t been treated that way. I’ve now found my peace with it, but I wasted two years being angry and upset because I didn’t express how I felt outside of my own mind.
3. Carry On
Like any heartbreak, there will be moments when you feel like you can’t go on. When all you want to do is curl up under the duvet, eat Ben & Jerry’s and watch chick-flicks. Occasionally, go with it ― it’s healthy. But then you need to extract yourself, have a hot shower, call up some friends or grab your beau and go have some fun. I can guarantee that your former friend(s) aren’t sitting around, wallowing, wondering why they ever let you go. So go check out that art exhibit you’ve been wanting to see, take a hike in the hills, head to the beach and breathe in the ocean. Whatever it is, go do it.
4. Learn To Let Go
It may not seem like it right now, but you will learn to let go. It may take months or even years, but you will get there. Much like when someone close to you dies, losing a friendship will take you through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There’s a good chance you may even repeat a few of these steps before you reach acceptance, but it will come. One day you’ll wake up and realize you haven’t thought about them in a while. Then you’ll do something that you would previously have done with them and you’ll realize you actually had fun doing it.
Letting go isn’t something you can speed up, but by not avoiding things or places you would go together, it makes it easier to let go. While I may have moved 10,000 miles away, I still watch the same film we would always watch every Christmas ― not because I’m torturing myself, but because it’s actually one of my favorites and I refuse to not watch it just because it has a decade of memories attached to it. So go. Do the things. And know that every person you meet in life has a purpose ― their’s was not to be a friend for life.