For almost a decade, I had someone in my life I considered my best friend. We had bonded over similar experiences and shared pain. I thought they understood me better than anyone else ever had. Then, right when I needed them most, they disappeared from my life.
I did what I do best. I continued on and I survived. Miraculously, this time I even managed to go above and beyond that. I rose above it all. I began to grow and flourish. And in the midst of all the rubble of my life, I found love.
The love I found was a thing of fairy tales. A flame from childhood rekindled and a bond beyond anything I ever imagined possible. We connect on every level and communicate with an openness and honesty I’ve always dreamed about but had always believed was beyond my grasp. It took me completely by surprise because, though I am a hopeless romantic at heart, I had begun questioning whether a love like this even existed outside of storybooks.
After almost a year of ghosting, that supposed best friend decided recently to touch base, attempting to talk as if no time had passed and all was still well between us. Though still hurt by their abandonment, for the sake of a decade-long friendship, I tried to have a civil conversation, catching them up on all that has happened and filling them in on how I had been. After all, I was proud of myself pulling myself back up, holding myself together despite facing so many difficulties alone. I was proud for all I had accomplished in such a short time and amazed at the love I had managed to find for myself.
To my astonishment, instead of being thrilled for me, he declared that I had “won”. Apparently, I had, in his eyes, done better in life in some way than he had done. Even more apparent, he resented it. He made numerous passive-aggressively snide comments and even attempted to guilt-trip me over my newfound love because he and his partner, though together longer than I had been with mine, were not at all in love. It saddened me to hear him describe his relationship as an arrangement and a convenience, devoid of emotion altogether. The more he talked, the more it felt like he was probing, searching for a kernel of misery within my relationship, hoping to reconnect and bond again over a shared unhappiness.
In that moment, it was as if a switch had been flipped. A light came on and I saw things so much clearer. He and I had “bonded” for years because we were both residing in a shared misery. It was not some magical connection. We did not even have a friendship. We had a codependency that revolved around leaning on someone else who understood our pain. He had no problem discarding me when his situation began to improve because he fully expected me to still be there, brooding in the darkness alone, waiting for him to eventually need me again. My love and happiness was an inconvenience that did not fit into his life so it was met with hostility.
He just doesn’t get it. That is not friendship. Friends don’t disappear or abandon each other when times get tough. Friends also don’t resent each other’s accomplishments or happiness. They give a shoulder to cry on when times get rough and celebrate each other’s successes as if they were their own. Though what we had may have been friendship at one time, it had since warped into something unrecognizably negative and self-serving for him. It had been a long time not only since he had treated me as a friend but also since he had considered my feelings, my well-being or my happiness at all. Everything was completely on his terms and always all about him. That is not friendship.
He really does not get it. There was no reason to attempt guilt-tripping me because I had found happiness. It isn’t that I somehow magically “won” anything because I’m currently in a better place than he is at the moment. It isn’t a competition with him. It never has been. The only person I am ever competing with is myself, hoping to improve my life whenever I can. I was not living my life trying to “one up” anyone else, least of all him. I was living my life just like everyone else, trying to find my own happiness and purpose. I wasn’t striving to “beat” him. I had always hoped for his happiness and well-being, as well as my own.
He just didn’t get it. Finding a genuine love was a very big deal for me. I’ve spent the majority of my life believing I was inherently unlovable, wandering in and out of abusive and dysfunctional relationships. Again and again, I allowed others to treat me poorly because I believed I didn’t deserve any better. Having someone finally treat me with love, admiration and respect was an enormous thing for me. I had always been made to feel like I was either not good enough, never measuring up, or as too much, too needy, too clingy, too much to handle. This was the first time in my life anyone had made me feel not only like I was enough, but that I was perfect just the way I was.
I finally get it. I am unapologetic in my happiness. Though it saddens me that his life has not been turning out as well as he had hoped since we parted ways, I owe him no apologies because I have done nothing wrong. I was not the one who walked away from our “friendship” or discarded him. I deserve happiness in my life. I am not going to downplay the good in my life or reject it altogether, either, just to wallow in misery with him so he has someone else to bond with in shared negativity.
I finally got it. I had to walk away from the conversation and block him. It had not been a true friendship. I haven’t been able to count on him to be there. He was there only when it was convenient to his life and when he needed someone as equally low as he was feeling to help lift himself back up. My newfound happiness was met with pettiness, anger and spite by him because I was no longer capable of being what he needed me to be. My happiness was not allowed in his life. It did not fit. He made me feel like I had to choose between having him in my life or having happiness and love. It was an easy choice.
I am okay with it. I don’t need any more dysfunctional relationships in my life. I need to surround myself with people who not only offer support when I’m struggling but who also cheer me on when I succeed. I need people I can trust to be there consistently instead of discarding and abandoning me periodically on a whim. I need more love and happiness in my life and less negativity. After far too many years, I finally get it now.