Best Friend Breakups


Best friend breakups are the worst kind of breakups there are. Worse than any kind of regular breakup. Because everyone expects a guy to break your heart once or twice before you find “the one.” But friends are supposed to be for life. In some ways, friends are even more special than family, because you choose who your friends are; you’re kinda stuck with the family you were born into. Friends are the family you choose. They are not meant to come to a painful end. That is what I expect from all the guys I like out there, the guys I think are cute but turn out to be idiots. Not for the person who’s my kindred-spirit, my soulmate since I was a kid. Not for the person I truly knew from the inside-out. No, that’s the kind of person who should always be there.

I really thought our friendship was forever.

I don’t even know how it got that far. I just remember the day ending with my sobbing in the kitchen to my mom, feeling like the worst person in the world. She patting me on the back, saying it would be okay. That it isn’t the end of the world. Her mom calling my mom, distressed about the way I’d treated her daughter.

Our friendship started going bad when she met this guy. Until then, there was me, Erica, and our third bosom-friend (Anne of Green Gables reference), Carly. The three of us went on all kinds of adventures, did a lot of extremely dumb and (what we thought were) cool things. We shared everything with each other: food, celebrity crushes, boys we liked, dreams for our future—the three of us were all going to be neighbors and watch each other’s kids, or just ditch our husbands and go on a girls’ night. Well, neither of us had really had a boyfriend until Erica’s prince charming waltzed in. He wasn’t exactly what we’d expected from a prince charming. He was older—a lot older, in fact, and he wasn’t that cute either. Our friend Matt called him monkey-face behind his back. But Erica was enchanted. She thought he was the best thing that had ever happened to her. It didn’t even seem to bother her that her entire family disliked the guy.

At first, it wasn’t that bad. The guy, Eric, was nice to us, even though he preferred to hang out with Erica alone. He didn’t say much, but he wasn’t rude either. Because Erica was my best friend, and because that’s what best friends do, I covered for her a couple times with her mom. When Eric came to visit, Erica would tell her mom she was with me. I remember her mom being upset with me, too, when she eventually found out who Erica had been with. I really couldn’t win with her mom, now that I think about it.

Then, as their relationship progressed, Eric became less and less of a nice guy. He didn’t like Carly. At first, she just got on his nerves with her energy, outspokenness, and crazy ideas, but then it got to where he’d start ignoring her. He would just stand there with a serious look on his face, waiting for Erica to stop talking to us and leave. Well, of course, after a while, Carly started getting on Erica’s nerves too. She would rant to me about how immature Carly was. Erica “matured” so much in a month or two, she no longer laughed at the jokes and videos she used to love so much. She had grown up to please Eric. She no longer had time for immature foolishness.

I, being a naturally mature person myself—also being pretty adaptable, could go along with either of them. I’d laugh at Carly’s jokes (though not as much as she would), but I’d be fine with a serious discussion with Erica. Erica started inviting me places alone. We’d go hang out with her boyfriend and friends, and Carly wouldn’t hear about it until later. I got to listen to Carly’s complaints about Erica ignoring her, and I got to hear all of Carly’s faults from Erica. It was not a good time for me. I admit, for a while, it really felt good to get so much attention from both of them, but as it went on, I felt guilty listening to both of them talk badly about the other and not really defending either. Erica kept trying to pull me away into a more “adult,” extravagant life with her boyfriend and new friends, but Carly was still there with all of our past memories and experiences, wondering where she went wrong.

This continued for a long time, usually with Carly and Erica not speaking to each other, me hearing both sides all the time. But I started to realize that it really wasn’t me or Carly who’d changed. It was Erica. She’d upgraded and was now too good for everything in her old life. Eric had gotten to her. I recognized this and tried to tell her. I tried to reconcile the two best friends who used to be inseparable. Instead, Erica attacked.

That was the day our friendship ended. Yeah, we talked about it later and tried being friends again for a while, but it hurt too much, and so we drifted apart and still have an uncomfortable relationship when we see each other. Sitting in Erica’s room, with her indoor swing I loved so much and guitar hung on the wall, she asked me to choose. Choose between her and Carly. I was young and foolish at the time, and I didn’t consider that there may be another option—I didn’t actually have to choose and give her that kind of power over my life.

So I thought about it: did I want to go with Erica, hang out with her and Eric, and listen to all the “mature” gossip, or did I want to be with Carly, my overly eccentric but warm-hearted best friend, not to mention our other friends who also disliked Erica’s new bf and didn’t get along with her anymore? I told her I’d have to go with Carly.

The minute I said those words, I knew I’d been stupid. She started crying. I knew I’d hurt her deeply that day. I, of all people, was supposed to love her. I knew her to the core, I understood her heart and why she’d gone the way she had. I knew why, but I didn’t agree with her choices. With that one sentence, I had practically implied that I didn’t accept who she’d become and that I wasn’t willing to give up certain things for our friendship.

This whole situation most likely sounds stupid to you, but it was so real to me. It hurt me deeply. When you’re in high school, friends are everything. And I wasn’t one to make friends easily. I felt as if I’d lost a part of me, and no matter how much we tried to reconcile later on, there was always a barrier between us. I personally think Eric had a lot to do with it, because after that day, he didn’t like me very much either. Erica chose between him and her friends, and she went with him. I chose between her and all my other friends, and I went with them.

As it turns out, maybe that was for the best, because they are married now. What started out as a rough relationship that nobody approved of is now a lifelong commitment joined by love. From what I can see, they are happy together. I don’t know much about her and how she is, but I do watch her from afar. I like to keep up with her life, because I still care about her. She still has a piece of my heart that I’ll never get back. It’s weird; what we think is a foolish childhood friendship can influence the rest of your life. I know there are certain things I still think and do because of her influence. Even though we haven’t really caught up in years, she will always be that one best friend in high school—the one that got away.

Could it have gone differently? Could we still be best friends? Could she have chosen both Eric and us? Could I have done something differently to reconcile our differences? I don’t know. Maybe this was the way it had to be. Maybe not. But it taught me a lot about friendships. It taught me how much work they are. A friendship really isn’t that different from a relationship with a guy. It’s hard. It requires sacrifice. A lot of time and energy. The question is whether it’s worth it. And if you decide that it is, then you’ll have to work at it.

And for Pete’s sake, think about what you’re saying before it comes out of your mouth. Words hurt, no matter what people say. That’s it. Thanks. Now I need to go text Erica and see how she’s doing.

© 2020 by Nancy E Wood