The Parting of Ways

This has been hard for me to sit down and write, though it’s been weighing on my mind quite a bit since it happened – since before it happened, really, as it was not exactly an overnight occurrence.

We all have people in our lives who are as close, if not closer, than family. Though there is no relation, either through blood or through marriage, these friends are the sort that you would do just about anything for. The kind that could call you at three in the morning in tears, and you would help. The ones you expect to be there forever.

I had a friend like this. He and I met online playing World of Warcraft, and we hit it off immediately. I was just pregnant with Charlotte, he was unhappy in what turned out to be a horrible relationship. We spent hours upon hours talking online. When we both quit the game, we kept talking. He disappeared for a few months and I was terrified. He resurfaced two days after Christmas, free from the horrible boyfriend, and our conversations picked up right where they left off.

We were best friends in almost every sense of the title.

We talked and talked through his navigating the dating scene, his going back to school, his various health problems. Through Charlotte’s birth, the family’s move, my complete failure to find any sort of work outside the home. Very little was taboo in our conversations.

When he met a new guy – a good guy, this time – he was so excited it was almost palpable. And for good reason. This new guy turned out to be The One. He proposed on the beach, before gay marriage was (finally, blessedly) legalized in California. My best friend asked me to be in the wedding, and I was overjoyed. I would get to see my best friend get the happily ever after he so richly deserved. They got married in July, in a small ceremony at the Justice of the Peace.

At least, that’s what I’m assuming.

Somewhere along the line, my best friend decided that I wasn’t enough to talk to any more. He did what to me what I’d seen him do to others, several times. He just… withdrew. Stopped talking. Stopped engaging. Trying to get a conversation going with him was like pulling teeth, so I stopped trying, really. I’d say hi and he’d say hi and we would make small talk that would go nowhere and just fizzled out before it even started.

“It’s different,” I told myself. “He’s got a lot going on, with school and family and life in general. He’s my best friend. I’m his best friend. Everything will come back around.”

I made a post somewhere that mentioned his going quiet in passing as something that was worrying me. Because he had gone quiet before, and it was bad. He has that bad habit of huddling down and hiding and pushing everyone away when he doesn’t want to deal with the world.

I got up the next morning to a breakup letter from my best friend. He said he’d talked to his best friend, and she told him that I should be told.

My best friend talked to his best friend.

The cognitive dissonance in that one sentence said it all.

There was more, of course. “It had been coming,” he said. “The well was dry.” I had to have known, he said. And subconsciously, I’m sure I did. But I was his best friend. It should have been different, I thought.

It stung. It still stings. You expect to get dumped by friends on the playground, to be left with tears in your eyes as the recess bell rings and the jump rope rubs against your palm when the other end is dropped. Not as an adult. It’s hard enough to make friends once you’re out of college, the thought of one just walking away from a friendship because it no longer interests them was unfathomable.

It combined the burn of getting laid off with the ache of getting dumped, and took away someone who until that moment I thought I could talk to.

And very little hurts more than learning someone you care so deeply for, cares so little about you in the end.

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