Candace Ganger
March 02, 2015 9:03 am

About seven years ago, my world changed. I moved away from my hometown and state, married my boyfriend of three years, and had a baby girl who’d become the focus of all my free time and sanity. Plus, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression that transformed this social butterfly into a cave-dwelling introvert. In many ways, I desperately wanted to be the girl I was before, but try as I might, I just wasn’t her. I was different. I was frazzled, I had lost my confidence, my weight was at an all-time high, and most importantly I lost the friendship of my very best friend.

We had been besties for 10 years, but with all these changes in my life something between us cracked until it broke. With so many things on my plate we couldn’t hang out together the way we once did — I had no time to cross-state lines to see a favorite band, or spend hours obsessing over crushes. I was deling with my own issues, and we were in very different head spaces (not to mention locations). Try as we might to make it work, it just didn’t. As time went on, the differences between us grew more stark, our interactions more fraught, and our get-togethers more tense, until eventually we both knew we just couldn’t do it anymore.

It was heartbreaking. My most significant life-relationship to date was over, and I think it was the dissolution of this incredibly important friendship that changed me the most.

The first few months after our friendship break-up were terrible. I missed her horribly, and missed our bond. But now, seven years later, I’ve taken a long journey of understanding and am finally at peace.

Those first few months were trying as I tried to piece together and accept the person I was after her, and let go of the person I was with her. Because, without my intention, they were two very different people. This was a journey that would take me all these seven years to decode and fully accept. The silver lining is, I’ve discovered a few things about myself I might not have found otherwise.

It’s hard to say ‘I’m sorry’ when hurt

I think this is true for most people. You’re bruised. Being the bigger person, stepping up, isn’t easy. For me especially, I’m learning that it isn’t just necessary to ease the other person’s pain, but to ease mine. Life is too short to hold grudges so say you’re sorry. Now.

Pride is a very real thing

The ego sometimes leads over any rational thought, especially when things get heated. No one wants to come out looking bad or feeling bad, so, in defense, attack before getting attacked and abandon before becoming the abandoned. Take a step back, even for just a minute. It can help make things clearer through all that murky fog and you might have a helluva lot less regrets at the finish line.

Sometimes I talk when I should listen

I’ve got to get my point across. I can’t hear you because while you’re in defense mode, I’m trying to come up with a defense of my own. Nothing can possibly get accomplished this way. These days, I’m trying to close my mouth and open my ears, no matter how difficult.

I’m only human

I make mistakes. Lots of them. It’s part of being alive. The secret, though, is to learn and try not to make the same mistake twice. Forgive and forget? Part of that is true. Even if you can’t forget what happened, choosing to forgive, or asking for forgiveness, might actually make the passing days more bearable.

I still think back to the days me and my BFF would cruise around in her red Convertible, blasting The Carpenters (hey, we were eclectic), with nothing but pure gratitude for each other’s companionship and just enough money to split some cheese fries and a chocolate shake. The memories sometimes make me all kinds of weepy, but for the most part, all kinds of thankful, for having the kind of friend most people hope for, however short-lived it was.

With my [now] two children and husband of seven years, I have a supportive family and friends, but more than that, I know who I am and what I want out of life. I miss her, yes, and maybe I’ll never have a friendship of this magnitude again, but I’m so so so grateful she was there when she was, helping shape and prepare me for the life I have now, while teaching me a thing or two about growing up, living, loving, and letting go.

That is what being a friend is all about.

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