l am at the stage in my life where if i don’t like something or someone i’m fine with editing them. If it’s wrong or unfair or stupid, I’ll pay my dues in this life or the next (I’m a Hindu), and I’m okay with that. But I’m also at the stage in my life where I know there’s one exception to this hard-won self-care practice: my best friends.
There’s no denying that these women are in my life to stay — no matter how much they annoy, infuriate, or frustrate me. Why? Because the bare truth is: these girlfriends are the scaffolding of my life. Whenever they are absent, I come loose. I need them.
Leaving someone you’ve loved for decades and shared your life with – aka your “life partner” – is an absolutely devastating experience. Yet it happens quite a lot and is sometimes even celebrated as a new start. Sure, there’s some protocol – seek professional advice, don’t nag the kids and get ready for some really extraordinary sex – but when I see a woman who left her partner because “it just didn’t work” and she’s happier now, think me: good for her – you go!
Divorce is one thing, but “GFD” – divorce from a girlfriend – is another. Choosing to leave someone you loved since a time when you didn’t even understand the weight of that word is different. Choosing to leave behind someone who can remember moments in your life that you’ve long forgotten, who held your hair back while you puked drunk in an alley, distraught over the man who didn’t call back, and who, eight years later , unconditionally adjusted the bow in your hair when you married that same man – if you dump That person “because it really didn’t work out” there is no party, no new beginnings and absolutely zero protocol.
I know because I’ve been there. And boy did it suck. I won’t go into all the reasons we arrived (after a long, savage time of riding the oppression/grudge/guilt/gaslighting rollercoaster) at GFD and the extremely brutal final break. But I can share the aftermath with you.
After I separated from my girlfriend, the map of my path in life thus far became blurry, and the needle on the compass that showed me where to go became shaky. There was no one to relive what happened when I was 25 that made me opt out of an arranged marriage, or the fight with another close friend that left me ragged. Of course I could tell other friends about these things and old ones might even remember them, but only as static stories – no one had experienced them with me, from the inside out like them.
After my initial self-righteous anger subsided (this took a while), I felt a blinding sadness every time she entered my mind. Gradually this became a pain of confused embarrassment that I could not have done better because of her. And then my life moved on: new baby, new home, new friends, yada yada, yuck yah, vomit.
One day she sent an email and I replied – and that’s the beginning of the story of how we got back together. But the real point is that I’ve learned (in a devastating way) how important my best friends are to me. Making amends with her was the only way I could understand myself again.
But the threat of shit hitting the fan still lurks. These days I rely on a mix of therapy, my husband’s ear (he prefers to chew glass, but he can’t take another catastrophic implosion in one of my friendships, so he continues), and just keep my mouth shut. I’ve also learned to lean on my other good friends, and sometimes on alcohol and lies. Because whatever it takes, I’m not going back to yada yada, bah bah, puke country.