I’ve been broken up with a lot. Not by boys, though. Only one guy has ever broken up with me, and it took me about a week to get over him. But girls are a whole other story.
When I was sixteen, one of my closest friends in the world started dating my ex-boyfriend. They kept it a secret from me for months, and as a result she stopped talking to me. I had no idea what was happening when they decided to break the news to me in person. He was older and could drive, and so they picked me up and took me out to lunch. I remember being in the backseat, watching the woods flashing by on the roadside as they talked about getting drunk.
Something had changed. Neither one of them ever drank before. There had been a basic shift, and I felt its effects rippling outward. My stomach tightened. Something was wrong. The drinking meant being grown up, I thought. Grown up without me.
“You’re a little girl,” he growled, later, leaning over me in the hall. She had said she needed to get a tampon and gone away. He was about a foot taller than me. “You don’t know anything about the world. You just live in this little bubble. I feel sorry for you.” He was closer now, and louder. He was laughing, cruelly.
He was angry, still, because I’d broken up with him. He was excited by the opportunity to flourish her in front of me, returning triumphant as though from battle.
But I didn’t care if he had her. I didn’t care if she wanted him. I just cared about her.
That was the last time I saw her for four years. I thought about her all the time. I imagined her having adventures without me, in her pickup truck and work boots. She could be anywhere now. She could be doing anything.
I have a bad track record with close friends. It’s a little embarrassing.
When I was fourteen, a whole group of girls broke up with me. They started another group without me and started hanging out without telling me when. Honestly, I’m still not sure what I did. A college friend gave me a formal break up speech. She needed more of my time. I admitted that I couldn’t really give it at that point. At least we talked about it. We tried to be honest. It seemed like things just couldn’t be worked out. About a year ago, a friend I’d become very close with very quickly uninvited me as her bridesmaid. Again, I wasn’t exactly sure why. Am I just oblivious? Have I never learned the secret girl code? I was still allowed to come to the wedding if I wanted. I didn’t.
And then, most recently, I stopped talking to my longest standing friend. The girl I’ve been attached to since I was literally two years old. It was the first time I’d ever been the one to initiate a separation. In the past, I’d always been caught off guard. But this time, it was me. She had made decisions and changed in ways I couldn’t understand and wasn’t sure I was willing to support. I didn’t know what to say to her. I didn’t know how to talk about it. So I stopped talking.
For over a month, we didn’t speak. She let me have my time.
And honestly, I felt like it was breaking my heart. I thought about her constantly, and dreamed about her nearly every night, as though she was haunting me.
The thing is, if I try to pry her from my life, I’ll be left scraping and chipping away at the memories forever. There are too many. They are interwoven with my memories of everything else. I can’t remember playing outside as a child without remembering her. Or dressing up. Or homeschool prom. Or dating boys. Or anything, really.
What do you do at that point?
Yesterday, I called her. “The thing is,” I said, “I can’t be me without you.”
And she said, “We are connected at the soul.”
And that was that. I refuse to break up.
And so I’m trying something I’ve never tried before. Her life, her decisions, her direction– they’re different than mine. But she is still the person I know. So I’m willing to listen instead of running away. I want to hear what she has to say.
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Un-roast: Today I love the shape of my legs.