My friend and I stopped speaking to each other for five months — here's what I learned about myself
Fighting with close friends doesn’t just alter your daily routines and change your mood — it can change who you are entirely. At least, that’s what happened to me after I had a big fight with one of my best friends. It happened suddenly in October, moments after we had just seen an off-Broadway play. It should have been like any other outing, but before I knew it, we were both saying things that may or may not have made sense then — and definitely don’t make sense now.
We stopped talking for some time — five months, to be exact.
To make matters worse, it was our very first fight after years (literally, years) of email chain letters, text messages, prayer dates, and shenanigans in the city.
As much as I tried to be okay with not talking to her to get through my days, her absence would cling to me at work and pain me even more once I returned home. I’d sit in my fourth floor walk-up where we’d spent countless hours planning ways to take over the world one blog post at a time, and our rift felt like a stench I just couldn’t Febreze away. The more I tried to clear the air (and my thoughts), the more the odors compacted — building a stink bomb that was sure to explode.
To be honest, I’ve had my fair share of fights with friends — but this felt…different. You know that saying, “Friendship is not about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who’s walked into your life, said I’m here for you, and proved it?” Well, I imagine that quote was written for a friend like mine because it perfectly sums up our relationship.
Fighting with a best friend means existing in that space between a rock and a hard place where you need to be heard, but you simultaneously need to learn how each other communicates when you’re both mad.
For me, that was the trickiest part of all. Our friendship survived, and I learned a thing or two about our relationship through this fight that I hope never happens again. Like, ever.
And I also learned about myself.
1I’m more capable than I give myself credit.
When you’re close with somebody — whether that is a friend or a significant other — you begin to rely on their opinion. In my situation, I relied on it way too much. Through the fight, I learned to trust my voice and my own abilities, but I also learned to be my own support system. By doing so, I’ve had some of the most validating opportunities of my career. They didn’t all pan out, but simply knowing that I believed in myself enough to take a chance made each experience a success.
2I’ve changed how I communicate.
I’ve always been quick to recognize the role I play in difficult situations — maybe too quick. I realize now that I wouldn’t hold other people accountable when things went wrong, instead only focusing on how I might have been responsible. That led to my feelings of built-up resentment which, sadly, harmed other relationships. I knew that if my friend and I were going to be able to move past our first fight, I had to be clear about how I felt during the argument that started it all. I had to be completely honestly when we did finally make up, and I have to continue to be honest in all the moments afterward. I think that has been crucial to the healing process.
3I needed time to rediscover myself.
This is going to sound weird since I couldn’t have foreseen this fight — but I really needed this break. Yeah, it was rough not being able to talk to my friend whenever I saw an inspirational quote or just needed advice, but I needed this time to rediscover myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in a person and the way you feel when you’re around them. When they’re not there, all you have is you.
Our fight taught me that I was holding on to pieces of my story that were no longer relevant to my life. It taught me that I wanted to improve the parts of myself that matter to me. And it taught me that time really does heal all wounds.
Though I was miserable with a capital “M” during the five months we weren’t speaking, I do think that separation was necessary — if not to strengthen our relationship, to help me see myself more clearly.
If you ask me, that was worth the drama.
Yasmein James is a freelance writer living in New Jersey, but her heart’s in New York City. When she isn’t writing, you can find her eating her way to the most authentic ethnic restaurants in her travels, and writing all about it on her blog, She’s Facing Freedom. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram.