The two of you are as close as family. You can call her anytime and talk about anything from the meaning of life to that dumb commercial the two of you always laugh about. You can tell her you need her, and she’ll be there for you as quick as she can in one way or another. You share laughs, stories, hopes, and dreams. You are there for her in the same way. She is your best friend.
I had a best friend.
I had that kind of best friend. She laughed at my jokes, I gave her advice. We comforted one another in times of need and in times of want. We grew up together. We stayed close even through separation. She was in my wedding and I was in hers. She made plans with me and we always looked forward to “the next time” we’d be together. She loved me. I loved her too.
Over the years, decades even, we remained close. Our lives ended up with similar trajectories. We were both military spouses with kids. We both juggled that military family, mom, working professional life. We talked often. But then, almost all at once, it all changed.
She didn’t ghost me. She was actually pretty clear about it. It was one of those periods where I had just moved and I was having some trouble adjusting, fitting in, finding a new job—I was just struggling with military family life in general. She sent me a message that said she was having some struggles of her own. But to my dismay, instead of leaning on me, she decided to cut ties. “I just don’t think we can be as close anymore” she had said, “I’m not in a place where I want to share all that I’m going through.”
It was hurtful.
I spent a lot of time questioning her choice and all that surrounded it. Could I have been a better friend? Did I say something so wrong that I could not be forgiven for it? Had I not been supportive enough? Did she just get tired of me? Was I just not good enough?
I may never know the answers to those questions. I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about it. And as hard as it was, I needed to move on. I needed to give myself the grace to let it go with the confidence to try and make new friends again.
Setting aside my relationship anxiety and disappointments, I eventually turned to some honest reflection. Being in a military family means no stabilization and therefore the friends you make come and go from your life physically, but many maintain supportive relationships from a distance. I may come off as “too much,” awkward, or overly sarcastic to some at first, but I don’t let that stop me from reaching out to people I meet. I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my friends, both near and far. I’ve cooked meals, watched others’ children, hosted gatherings, and been a listening ear.
There are many things that I am, but a bad friend isn’t one.
I genuinely care about people, and I believe it shows in my relationships.
I still reach out to her every now and again. I don’t get much substance from her anymore. Part of moving on is to accept that our relationship has changed, and it probably won’t ever change back to the way it was before. We are not on bad terms. But we are no longer best friends.
The last thing I needed to do to really move on was to forgive myself. I forgive myself for not being perfect. I won’t blame myself for this friendship that ended. I will recognize that the nature of relationships is to change. I will do my best to look back on our friendship with fond memories of the wonderful times we had, instead of only sadness. And finally, I will cherish the way our friendship shaped me and made me a better friend.
Goodbye, dear friendship. Thanks for the joy you brought me over the years. I will never forget you or the person you helped me become.