My best friend broke my heart and I never got over it.
My roommates are at war and playing Switzerland is exhausting. At night I listen to the sounds of their hearts breaking, my room fittingly placed in the middle, close enough to hear both girls cry. During the day I watch them fight over the TV, I watch them change wi-fi passwords and make passive aggressive comments about the trash, their spiteful antics code for “I miss you”. They say they’re never going to make up, seven years of friendship ripping apart slowly.
From best friends whose secrets were intertwined to strangers. Image source: weheartit.com
It led me thinking - is this situation that different from one with a boyfriend? Except there’s no “you just got dumped, let’s get drinks” protocol for a friendship break up. Just a hollow feeling you force yourself to live with, a wound that goes much deeper than holding hands or a shared Netflix account. I used to think my best friend held my spine together in all the moments I’d felt myself falling apart. I never completely got over her. I hate how romantic relationships get the monopoly on break ups, how that pain has lit up the real world screen like a hurricane, how there is art for falling in and out of love but nothing for friendships that have frayed.
When I moved back to Bombay after a couple of years abroad my skin didn’t feel like it fit, my only solace lay in finding familiarity with my girls, finding comfort knowing they would have my back. But they didn’t. The tectonic plates of our friendship had shifted and all it took was one drunk night for the accusations to fly, a pyramid of shared secrets and navigating our teenage selves together collapsing at our feet. “I just don’t relate to you anymore”, one of them told me, later implying I was impulsive and easy, Sangria feeding her voice and fuelling me to fight back.
Best friends forever, we’d say as kids, raised on the fairytale. Image source: pinterest.com
That night I lost two of my best friends, the three of us setting the floor on fire with words we could never take back. I spent the next weeks desolate and lonely, feeling a Russian roulette of heavy and empty - a mourning period nobody warns you about. I’m no stranger to heartbreak but the deal with a romantic relationship is that there are never any guarantees. It’s a well known fact that love is fickle and should be constantly safety checked for cracks. You walk in armed, ready to fight, flee, f*ck or fall because you’ve always known of the different possible outcomes. With a friendship you waltz in raw, strong in the belief that you’re accepted for who you are, trusting of the give, the take, “best friends forever” we’d say as kids, raised on the fairytale.
I like to think my first love was a girl, I like to think I’ve been searching for her in every friend I’ve had since. We grew up together in South Bombay, in beautifully tragic British buildings that had no space for kids to play. We crossed the busy road that connected our houses everyday, playing Miss India and picnic-picnic and weaving theories to fill in the gaps of everything we didn’t know. She was a double flight attendants daughter, a world map tacked on her wall glittering with the dots of all the countries she’d been to. With every bindi she stuck on it and every story she unfolded for me, my own interest sparkled, my urge to travel feeding off her excitement. We were inseparable and yet we grew up into completely separate people - me with my love for attention, daring and dependent, her with her love for dance, diplomatic and independent. We built our universe together for thirteen years, the only child and the middle child, the zen to my chaos. At seventeen when she moved to another country I missed her so much I would often see her in my dreams, a piece of my heart taking roots on foreign soil. We sent each other detailed e-mails for almost two years, advice and comfort zinging across the ocean. But an e-mail can never replace a room across the street and I felt lost without her presence pulling me back to earth. Our friendship faded but the ghost of it still haunts me.
Our friendship faded but the ghost of it still haunts me. Image source: pinterest.com
That first breakup is still buried deep in my bones. And like all famous firsts, I seek girls who remind me of her - logical women, tall women, women whose strength makes me feel safe, women who like to solve problems, women who are born to dance, women who call me out on my shit, women who are so effortlessly goofy its charming.
Funnily enough we bumped into each other last year in Europe, a stray Facebook post informing me she was in my city. We met up but she was with her now best friend, a lovely girl I instantly liked, a girl she shared a million inside jokes with and turned to instinctively when she needed help. I put on a smile, of course, but even my veins hurt that night, the stranger-ness of us unsettling me. Nothing prepares you for the feeling of being replaced, of knowing that there is no going back. Like I said, there is a world of art for romantic heartbreak but this is worse because with friendship comes years of history and trust and evolution and the belief that it will always be like this, the belief that your equation will never fracture.
Nothing prepares you for the feeling of being replaced. Image source: 30datesblog.com
Am I more careful about the women I whore my heart out to now? Yes and no. I believe, just like in the relationship world, friendships formed when you are more sure of who you are, when you understand the ins and outs of your insecurities, will be stronger for it. And I am closer to knowing myself now than I was at four and seventeen and twenty one. And the friends I have now are all over the world, my own sparkling bindis dotting other countries.
I believe, just like the solar system, your support system will always find it’s pace around you.
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Cover photo credit: www.pinterest.com