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“Breaking up” With A Friend

12 June, 2008

Breaking up is never easy to do, but when it’s breaking up with a friend it can be even more lonely. There’s a reason why people say “I feel like I’ve just lost my best friend” because losing a friend really is a genuinely heartbreaking experience.

“And parting with them is like parting with a childhood best friend” – Precious illusions (Alanis Morrisette)

I have recently come to the end of a relationship with a close friend. I confess the wounds are still raw the the hurt quite deep. I wont, however, get into the specifics of the relationship. What I will talk about is how to deal with the loss of a friendship and how to move forward.

“I’ve always wanted for you what you’ve wanted for yourself
and yet I wanted to save us high water or hell
and I kept on ignoring the ambivalence you felt
and in the meantime I lost myself”

– That Particular Time (Alanis Morrisette)

One of the challenges of grieving a lost friendship is other people’s responses. Others around you may not understand why you are upset. They may believe that a friend is not as important as a boyfriend or lover but the break up and grieving process can be just as difficult.

There may also be challenges if you have many friends in common. Your friends may feel awkward. The sad truth is that some of your friends will take sides, and a few of them may not take yours, and drift away. It’s important to not encourage your friends to take sides or try to alienate them from your friend. For the short-term it may be best to stick to smaller gatherings of friends.

No matter what has happened to bring about the end of the relationship, it is important to apologise for your part in it. Friendship is a two-way street and rarely is one party completely at fault. If your friend wont hear your apologies, write them down and send them. You cannot be responsible for them receiving your apologies, you simply have to make them. Forgive your friend for the hurt caused because unforgiveness is only going to hurt you and not your friend.

“I have been blamed
And I have repented
I’m working my way toward our union mended”

– A Man (Alanis Morrisette)

While recognising that you played a part in the demise of the friendship, it’s important to realise that you are still a worthy person. There may be legitimate criticism that you need to take on board, however you are still a worthy person. You are still capable of loving and being loved. Your self esteem should not be tied up in your friends’ opinions of you. Sometimes it’s not that easy though.

“How these little abandonments seem to sting so easily
I’m 13 again am I 13 for good?
I can feel…
So unloved for someone so fine…
Oh these little projections how they keep springing from me
I jump my ship as I take it personally
Oh these little rejections how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me” So Unsexy (Alanis Morrisette)

While you don’t want to turn any common friends against your friend, it is important to talk about it. Find a friend or a family member who is not close to your old friend to confide in. Talking or writing about your feelings can help you to grieve and move on.

Don’t be afraid to make new friends. You don’t want to try to make the next person you meet your “new best friend” – it’s just like the rebound relationship – but you can’t hide yourself away for the rest of your life and avoid building friendships with others.

If you find yourself dwelling on the relationship over a period of time, it may be worth talking to a counsellor. Also, if you find that the anguish is negatively affecting other areas of your life over a period of weeks, then you should see your doctor. You may not need to be on anti-depressants or seek counselling but sleeplessness, irritability, nightmares, lack of appetite (or constantly eating), repetitive illnesses and moodiness are all symptoms of stress, which is your body letting you know that all is not well. A check in with your doctor can be therapeutic and open the communication channels. Your doctor then can monitor you and make a better-informed decision on whether further treatment may be necessary.

“What’s it been over a decade?
It still smarts like it was four minutes ago
We only influenced each other totally
We only bruised each other even more so

What are you my blood? You touch me like you are my blood
What are you my dad? You affect me like you are my dad

How long can a girl be shackled to you
How long before my dignity is reclaimed
How long can a girl stay haunted by you
Soon I’ll grow up and I won’t even flinch at your name” – Flinch (Alanis Morrisette)

It is important to allow yourself to grieve. Don’t stifle your feelings or try to pretend it didn’t matter or that is doesn’t hurt. Be gentle with yourself over the coming days and weeks.

This little piece of prose may also help you.

PS Can you tell which CD I put on tonight?

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