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Losing Your Best Friend and Moving Forward

It’s the kind of loneliness I never expected I’d feel and I’ve experienced my share of loneliness. I’ll never forget my first night in my dorm room – calling my best friend 10 minutes after she left campus on her way back to our home town was all I could do to stop from sobbing the entire night. Before that moment I always considered myself an independent, strong, outgoing person. That night loneliness enveloped me and pushed me bleary-eyed through the night. It was hard realizing how utterly dependent I was on my friends and family back home. Knowing I could return to them in 10 weeks was the only comfort afforded me in my first quarter of college, without which I probably wouldn’t have survived otherwise.

We met in what I can only describe as the absolute nerdiest class available at our middle school. We first connected because we loved to read, an uncommon and unpopular interest for middle school girls. Within that cloistered environment of nerdiness abound our friendship blossomed, a testament to its authenticity. We wrote what we considered witty dialogue back and forth in our notebooks, we went to the mall and giggled at the “adult” items in the edgy teen store I’m certain was designed for by middle school students. One of our favorite haunts was Barnes and Noble where we’d sit in the aisles and read for hours because it made us feel independent. During PE, we’d frolic in the grass barefoot and make daisy chains. Mostly, we just wanted to have fun and were too oblivious to understand how weird that made us to everyone else.

We survived middle school together. She went to a different high school across town which was hard at first (we talked at least twice a week on the phone) but allowed us to explore our own interests without growing apart. It made the endless hours we spent on the weekends together more special, something we could look forward to at the end of the grueling first weeks of high school.

In my sophomore year of college, my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia. During the initial stages of the diagnoses, loneliness crashed over me in swells of anxiety. Her diagnoses made me stare into a mortal abyss I’d never considered. For the first few days my tears flowed freely and my anger came in fits and starts. There was no one I wanted to turn to but her, I knew she wouldn’t try to comfort me with false hope.

My mom’s cancer is manageable but the effectiveness of treatment options is still unpredictable. I’m now in my junior year of college and the uncertainty of my mom’s diagnoses still makes me feel the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Except now, I don’t have my best friend to turn to. During our second year of college we started drifting apart – she wouldn’t return text messages for weeks and we hardly saw each other over holiday breaks. Over the past summer she didn’t come home from college. Only after reaching out to her family did I learn she would go for weeks, even months without talking to them.

Breaking up is hard. Losing a friend you connected with so deeply is even harder. No one prepares you for the loneliness you feel, no one talks about how deeply it affects you. I miss being able to pick up the phone and talk for hours. I miss making up dance moves in the back of her car on our way home from her soccer games. I miss having someone to turn to when my anxiety about my mom’s future swells so high it overtakes me. People expect lover’s quarrels. You eat a tub of ice cream, watch romcoms bitterly, and you move on. It’s harder when your best friend for the past eight years disappears from your life.

Carley is a college student and aspiring feminist. She watches Food Network and HGTV waay too much for comfort and is perpetually confused by people’s house buying decisions.

Featured Image via Shutterstock

  • Caitlin Carbonell

    I think there’s still hope. Write her a letter, a hand written one. This isn’t what I thought it would be (I’ve had some horrible breakups in the last few years with long term besties- who turned out to be frenemies in hiding). Good luck, and I hope it works out.

  • Kate West

    I too lost my best friend when we began to attend different colleges. We grew apart, much to my dismay. Every time that she was home from college I would attempt to make time to come home too, until it became very apparent that I could tag along with whatever she was doing (with all her new friends, or some of our other old friends) but that she wasn’t going to make time for me anymore. It hurt a lot. I got really angry about it before the sadness. It’s been about 5 years now since we have been close. I still miss her. We are still facebook friends and we call to wish each other a happy birthday, but that’s it. You make other friends, maybe even another best friend but it definitely isn’t the same. I think I will always have those occasional days where I wish we could go back to driving in my car windows down singing along (badly) to Blink-182.

  • Jackie Argueta

    I honestly believe breaking up the friend is worse than breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. When you break up with a lover, at least you have your best friend to help you through it. But when you break up with your best friend, who do you turn to ? Because the one that always comforted, you is the one that hurt you? It’s been two years since my best friend and I had our falling out, and I still have days where I start the dial his number and I realize that I can’t call him anymore or I’ll start composing a text message and when I go to send it it’s like, oh wait we’re no longer friends. It is extremely hard, especially when you have like a health scare or something significant happens in your life and you’re so used to having that one person to comfort you or to help talk you through everything and when are not it’s hard for you to move on.

  • Zib Brenner

    Don’t give up! You are going through a lot and she might also be going through a lot, too. Perhaps she feels that she doesn’t want to burden you with her drama. I am terrible with communication, but would never want my best friend to feel like I didn’t care/want to be her friend any longer. Be open and, as hard as it may be, don’t close yourself off to her yet. It may take sometime, but if it is a tride and true friendship, she will be back (and likely with an apology, of course). If you want her to, make sure you don’t make her feel guilty, because then it will not be as enjoyable for her to reconnect with you. I hope everything works out for you and your best friend and that you are able to branch out and meet some new people in the meantime too :)

  • Cheryl Dawn Dearborne

    Take it from a 30 yr old, its only a wrinkle in time. Keep your love, you will reunite as older, wiser women. Your bond will be stronger, you will be less co-dependent and your relationship will be pleasant an healthy. Give her a pass and one day she may have to give you one as well,

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