The way it goes when you lose a friend is just like how Nick Campbell loses his fortune in The Sun Also Rises. Gradually, then suddenly. The person who listened kindly to your 3AM rantings, who soothed your savage wounds, now seems to function primarily in the past tense.
When you do speak, it’ll be more like “Remember when we…”, or “that one time that we…” than “let’s meet here”, or “let’s go there”.
It may not be you, it might just be you. It’s really hard to tell. When the phone calls stop, and the hang outs wane, it can seem as if your whole world is caving in. Losing a friend is worse than any break up because it stays with you longer. Implicit in a romantic-break up is the expectation that eventually you’ll fill the void with someone else. With friendships, you’re losing something so specific that you begin to worry that you’ll never find something quite like it ever again. Lost friendships are like the crumpled receipts you keep in the bottom of your purse; you’ll forget about them for a while, but every so often you’ll rummage through. You’ll uncrinkle a small, smudged sheet and the memories will hit.
It feels really shitty, to say the least.
Offering positive advice on how to deal, aside from the usual platitudes (you have other friends! you’ll get over it!) seems a tad disingenuous. If you’re here, you probably are looking for someone to understand. And we get it, it’s rough, and it feels like you might just vomit inside your shoes, and hide out in your room and never come out for days upon days. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel a pit in your stomach every time you see a former friend; it’s okay to want to send them email upon email asking what went wrong, how you can fix it, and telling them how much you need and love them.
Don’t. As a veteran of many an overwrought, over-composed email, you’ll feel worse in the morning. Ditto revenge, or an e-blast. It may work out for Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne or Blair Waldorf, but certainly not for you––the rawness you feel now will be amplified. So much of your choice of action comes from an imagined outcome, and what happens is almost never what you intended.
Instead, feel what you feel. Realize that the loss you’re experiencing isn’t stupid, or weird, or whatever––but rather a perfectly normal reaction to a deeply upsetting event. It’s hard to say what you should do next, besides the obvious “don’t do this!” I hear that tea and crying helps. I hear that reading positivity blogs helps. Same with blaring Brand New until your ears can’t register most sound for the next hour and a half.
For me, Joan Didion, Simone Weil, and Anne Carson have been the most helpful. They might help you, but only if you’re bookish. What these literary powerhouses all have in common is their odd interaction, and near-blind acceptance of loss. Realizing that desire, and love, and the emotions that swirl around these two feelings can be a very illusory real is somehow comforting. Knowing that the loss you feel will happen to you over, and over––and maybe you’re just born with it feels, less lonely––more human.
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