Becoming a parent has ushered many positive revelations for me, but there is one thing I have been mourning. To name this dark cloud is to admit I miss one aspect of life from before I became a mother: when I experienced my first adult friendship breakup.
This friendship used to be a haven for me, one where I could be fully be myself and still feel accepted and loved. It also began to eclipse my other friendships, and looking back, I can clearly see how unhealthy that was. Becoming a parent accelerated a rift in our friendship. Without it, it probably would have taken longer for me to recognize the relationship was becoming toxic.
My friend was going through their own changes and could not respect the fact that I was becoming a parent. It was clear they decided their opinion was more important than considering how I would be affected by something related to my child or parenting. I was willing to forgive my former friend after taking some time to think about whether or not our rift was worth ending our friendship over.
To name this dark cloud is to admit I miss one aspect of life from before I became a mother: when I experienced my first adult friendship breakup.
I soon realized it was time to move on after I made an Instagram confession on a particular day that had been stressful—from clients to traffic—and I was agitated. I shared a small blurb on my Instagram Story about feeling frustrated with people and even threw in a small joke for good measure. Before long, I received several long messages from my former friend questioning if what I said on Instagram was about them.
I began to feel like I was going to have to tip-toe around this friend as I shared my life as a parent and would also have to go out of my way to not make them feel attacked if I posted something that wasn’t joyful. Trying to keep up with my former friendship was becoming exhausting, and I decided I did not want that energy in my life anymore.
We don’t have to look far for tips on how to survive a romantic breakup. From movies to songs, that area is covered and then some. However, when it comes down to platonic breakups, it’s rare to hear about the “right” steps to take to end them or about how equally painful they can be. Here are a few ways I am working through mourning a friendship.
Understand It’s OK to Experience a Variety of Emotions
You may experience a wide range of emotions when a friendship ends. Regardless of if you or your friend(s) chose to end your friendship with or without communication about it, feelings of guilt may surface. You may wonder if red flags, such as not establishing clear boundaries, were dismissed throughout the friendship. You may feel disrespected, angry, or sad that you must experience life without a friendship that you once felt sure of. No matter what your unique situation is, know that it’s OK to feel all of the emotions.
Create Clear Boundaries to Determine If There’s Room for Reconciliation or Not
As human beings, we can be complex, which means our relationships are capable of following suit. While I can’t tell you that all former friendships are worth reconciling, I can say it’s important to establish boundaries. Understand what is or isn’t acceptable within your friendships. In my case, I made the mistake of thinking I would not have to verbally say that my son and my parenting choices were not up for discussion. I should have set clear boundaries about something that felt sacred to me in the same manner that my former friend set boundaries about what felt sacred to them.
Since I was the one to walk away from my friendship, I chose to cease all communication with my former friend. I decided I was uninterested in trying to force things to feel the same.
Cherish the Good Memories of the Friendship
While friendship breakups can be painful and bring up different emotions or thoughts, you might also think about the great moments of the friendship. I would be remiss if I condemned by former friendship based on the breakup that occurred. My former friend and I created so many memories that will stick with me for a lifetime. You don’t have to erase all the good memories from your mind.
Extend Grace and Be Patient
Extending grace not only to my former friend but also to myself is something I am continuously working on. It is by far one of the hardest lessons I am learning throughout this journey. In my opinion, forgiveness is not necessarily a one-and-done deal. There will be moments where the friendship breakup feels fresh, and we may think or say less-than-stellar things. We’re human.
If you’re anything like me, long-term friends eventually feel like extended family members. Deep bonds can form in this kind of relationship, so it doesn’t mean something is wrong with us if we feel grief toward the end of a friendship. All we can do is take things one day at a time and exercise grace during the mourning period. Some days will feel much better than others, and some days, we’ll feel like we are dragging our feet. However, a breakup does not always have to be the end of our world. Change, regardless of its form, is inevitable, and we get to decide when and how we are going to move forward.