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Ending of a 30 Year Friendship and The Lessons It Taught Me

I don’t want to write this story.  I don’t want people to think I’m playing the victim or being judgmental.  I don’t want to feel like I’m creating unnecessary drama.  I don’t want to relive it and bring it up again.  

But the fact of the matter is I do live with this story and experiences every day.  It is a part of my cellular makeup.  It has shaped me.  It has taught me.  I’m not the same person.

So why would I somehow discount my own experience?  Telling myself that it’s not important enough to write down….

It’s taken me over 2 years to write.  Even before I start the tears are starting to fall because I know what’s coming.  

My 30 YEAR friendship with my best friend is over.  Done.  Gone.  There have been many therapy sessions, journal pages, energy healing and a lot of crying.  I have experienced the ending of my marriage, had my heart broken by men, had loss, death and grief but nothing hurts quite like this.  

Being told that I was incapable of loving more than one person at a time or that I wasn’t a good enough friend after everything that we had gone through over the years was crushing.

It made me question myself and my ability to love.  Was she right?

It made me question my capacity of friendship.  Was I really a selfish friend?

I felt more than a little lost and empty for a long time.  The grief is still there.  The pain is still there.  But now there is also understanding and compassion for both of us.  

You see, we all play a part in every relationship and we are powerful creators of our reality.  The fact of the matter is that my soul knew I would need this experience for my growth and evolution and it agreed to it. 

Our friendship was one of unhealthy codependent tendencies.  I can look back over the last 30 years and see time and time again where I abandoned myself so that I could have a connection with her.  I brushed over the times where I was hurt because it was easier to just “let it go” instead of saying “That’s really fucked up, that doesn’t energetically feel good or I don’t appreciate you talking to me like that”.  Using my voice was a no-go – by MY own choosing.  My answer was always “I don’t care. Whatever you want to do” because I wanted her to be happy.  And if she was happy I was happy.  

But I couldn’t be too happy on my own because that’s when things got complicated and the inevitable “I don’t feel important” would come out.  And that’s what happened in the end.  Once again I found myself in a wonderful place.  I had bought my dream home.  I had a beautiful relationship with my partner and my children.  I was happy.

The difference this time was she walked away and I let her go.  I didn’t chase after her.  I didn’t try and “make things right”.  I didn’t try to convince her how much I loved her or cared about her.  I walked away too.  

It was incredibly painful to walk away from someone you thought would always be in your life.  Would always be in your corner and someone you can lean on.  She was gone.  

It’s in that absence that growth happened.  Lessons were learned.  Realizations made.  

I learned that not everyone will be in your life forever.  You will outgrow relationships and people.  And it’s okay.  It sucks.  Especially when you’ve loved them for so long.  But you’ll make it through.  And in that space new people will be invited in.  New friendships will be made.

I learned that not everyone is comfortable with your happiness.  That’s why it’s so important to cultivate your own.  Your happiness will make other people look at their own and sometimes they won’t like what they see.  Be happy anyway.  This is your one life to live (this go around).  So live it fully.  Knowing that it’s not your job to sacrifice yourself to make someone else happy.

I learned that grief, loss, love and acceptance can occupy the same space at the same time.  We are complex human beings living a complex human life with complex emotions.  None of those emotions are wrong.  

I learned that we truly are mirrors for each other.  I could go on and on about how I felt abandoned and judged by her but really I get to look at all the ways I was abandoning and judging myself – Questioning my abilities to love and be happy.  Judging my own wants and needs and abandoning myself every time I did not express them.  And also understanding that there were moments where I might not have been the best friend that she needed either.

I learned that sometimes even those closest to you aren’t able to really hear you and be a safe space for your struggles and challenges.  So be thoughtful in who you are vulnerable with.

I learned that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.  I believed that I wouldn’t be able to make it through life without her.  She was my rock and I needed her.  I learned that I can still make it through challenging moments and I don’t NEED others to do it.  (Although it is incredibly powerful when you do find people who you can share those challenging moments with.)

I learned that my intuition is never wrong.  NEVER.  And every time I put my own wisdom aside to make room for someone else’s I was only letting myself down.  

I learned that no matter how many times we sacrifice ourselves, our choices, our happiness for someone else’s it will never be enough.  It only leads to disappointment and resentment.  So make sure that the person you are striving to make happy is yourself first.  Next time you want to please someone, make sure it’s you.  

I learned that other people’s opinions about me are not my truth.  We will always be judged for who we are.  It’s human nature.  It’s not my job to convince people of my authenticity.  They will either see it or they won’t.  And the fact of the matter is when we know our worth and value we only align with other people who see it too. 

I learned that you can love someone so much and want them in your life forever AND still know that it’s time to walk away – for both of your soul’s evolution and growth. 

Please let me make this VERY fucking clear – I love her still.  I hold no grudge, no hate.  Only love and hope for her happiness and my own.   In our 30 years of friendship we had so many beautiful moments too.  Lots of adventure, laughter and support.  So I also learned that sometimes things can be good most of the time and still need to be let go of.  As we have transitioned into a new space of not being in each others’ life it doesn’t negate the fact that we have 30 years of memories and experiences that no one else will have because they aren’t us.  She has been such a huge part of my story up until now that it’s no wonder that the emotions are still so strong –  both the love and the grief.  

I once read a quote that said, “Not all “toxic” people are cruel and uncaring.  Some of them love us dearly.  But they are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness.  They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us.  And as hard as it is, we have to let them go.  Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else.  You have to make your own well-being a priority.  Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself.” (-Daniell Koepke)

I know that she loved me.  But the problem is love isn’t enough.  Things don’t have to be perfect but when a dynamic causes you to put others before yourself there’s something wrong.  I take FULL responsibility for my actions, behaviors and patterns in our friendship.  No one was making me stay silent.  No one was telling me to put her before myself.  No one was telling me “Amber- if you want to be loved, you gotta keep quiet, sacrifice yourself and make sure that the other person is happy FIRST.” Nope –  I did that all on my own.  That was my belief.  To be loved and to be loving meant allowing others to go first.  

Now I’ve learned that my capacity for love really begins with love of self first.  It’s not selfish to speak up.  It’s not mean to make requests.  It’s not shameful to ask for what we need.  Those are all important aspects of a healthy relationship.

I am so grateful for all the love, lessons and experiences that I had with her.  Both in our friendship and out.  I only carry love in my heart for her and all of it because anything less would be a disservice to us both and the friendship that we once had.  Endings can be simultaneously painful and beautiful.  After all, “there is no real ending.  [Just] the place where you stop the story.” -(Frank Herbert)

And this is where the story stops.