"You are not growing if you aren't losing friends"
We've all come across this truism in some form, most often splashed all over social media dressed as a motivational quote. I also understand that this is one of life's natural occurrences but no one ever speaks about the heartbreak and trauma that involves losing a close friend.
My very first heartbreak (long before I knew anything about boys or had any introduction into romantic relationships) came from my best friend in our matric year of high school. The details of our break up are still sketchy in my mind because it's not something I enjoy revisiting, the only memory that I can still vividly feel was a piercing wave of distress, which lasted for about a week. I knew nothing about dealing with the break-up of a close friend and the heartbreak that ensues. However, with time I've become better equipped to deal with this loss.
The end of a friendship can be a hard pill to swallow or a sigh of relief. There are instances where some friendships are inherently toxic and the only good that comes from them is ending the friendship. Not everyone you cross paths with in life is good for your development and growth. There are individuals who have bad intentions for you and keeping their company becomes a danger to your wellbeing. I find that living in a big city, tends to come with the misfortune of insincere friendships and people. There's a loss of intimacy that I've experienced with living in the city. Friendships that are built on the superficial are put to the test, they rarely ever succeed.
Another factor that contributes towards friendship break ups is jealousy or insecurity. Where one friend might be making major advancements in their life and the other feels stagnant, those situations become major areas of tension in the friendship. In such cases, what both people might fail to realise is that everyone's 'success' timeline differs. There are many different reasons as to why friendships don't last but in essence what causes these splits is that as we grow older, our social and professional networks grow bigger. This means that our interests and values start to differ and what once connected us as friends, ceases to exist anymore.
I find the nature of these splits to be quite violent. Not violent in the physical sense but violent in the emotional sense because it's a cruel split from someone in your life, someone who you love. The naivety of youth tells us that everything lasts forever and the shocking reality of life is that nothing lasts forever.
Whatever the case here are some tips to follow on how to deal with losing a friend;
Accept that it is happening and accept the part that you played in it as well. As the saying goes there are two sides to every story, you need come to terms with the fact that you also had a hand in the break up. Absolving yourself from any responsibility only means you haven't learnt any lesson and are liable to make the same mistake again.
Allow yourself to mourn what you have just lost. Grieving is a natural and healthy process when going through a break up with a friend, it allows you to heal.
Focus your energy on your work or on a new hobby. Dwelling on the end of a friendship for too long is not healthy and negative thoughts will only be a burden and make you feel worse.
Find New Friends
Widen your social scope, join a new book club, go out there and make new friends! If not, reach out to existing friends and nurture the friendships that you still have. Someone out there will appreciate you and the efforts you make as a friend.
Learn from your experience, learn that change is an inevitable part of life. Everyone changes, whether it is for the good or for the bad. You cannot stop change from taking place. Some friendships stand the test of time but many don't and simply wither away into oblivion. I have a handful of women ex-friends in my life, whose presence I miss dearly.
At the end of the day I simply had to accept that the friendship could not work out and that it was the result of both parties, no one person is ever to blame. Is my life better off without them? The answer is most likely to be yes. Outgrowing people is essential for personal development. At some point or another we all go through it, dealing with your break up in the best way possible ensures that you will come out stronger and wiser on the other side.