When it Feels Like a Breakup, Except it’s Not

The feelings that come with leaving friends behind aren’t always easy to shake.


Things they don’t tell you about losing close friends: Sometimes, it takes a while to get over your loss, similarly to how a breakup feels…except it’s not a breakup.

Recently I’ve “broken up” with a couple of people I thought were close friends (and no, I’m not even referring to my childhood friend I wrote about a while back). It takes a lot for me to dismiss people from my life — I tend to have a bit of a long fuse and give people second and third and fifteenth chances to get it right.

But once I decide you’re out, you’re out for good. Your chances have expired. You have no more money in the bank. I deleted a number of people I went to high school with off my Facebook friends list. They lost their chances. And while this thinking may sound harsh, I want nothing to do with them anymore.

However, that doesn’t make the “breakup” any easier, at least not initially. Based on my history and the knowledge that if by nothing else other than my own actions, I know what’s coming (aka no contact whatsoever), I feel a sense of loss.

“But Mary Grace, they took advantage of you. You should be happy!”

I absolutely understand that sentiment — and truth be told, I’ve echoed the same sentiment when I’m the person offering the helpful advice and the shoulder to cry on. That is absolutely correct. They did take advantage, and maybe, with time, I will be happy and realize that our “breakup” was the best thing that could have happened.

I’m already thinking of all the newfound time that I’ll have as a result, and of spending that newfound time with people who appreciate all of me. People I can trust. People who I have every confidence will fight for me. People who will never betray me. People who will never make me look or feel like an idiot.


But even knowing all of that, it still hurts. I’m sure that’s due in large part to my existence as a Highly Sensitive Person, but after speaking with real, true friends as well as a few objective, “adultier adults,” I’ve concluded that I have every right to still feel hurt. It’s been a few weeks since the writing was first on the wall that it was time to “break up,” and since then a series of even more hurtful actions has only sealed the deal.

Yet I still find myself listening to a five-year-old mix CD that one person in this cohort made for me way back when, before things were different. I drive past the exit for one of their houses on my way to work and feel the telltale lump in my throat every single time, on the ride to work and on the ride home.

I see their Facebook updates and can’t bring myself to click “Unfriend” just yet. I even see one of them liking posts from #NAMB’s Instagram account and want to know if that person is just hitting “like” to keep up appearances. As I recently discussed with my dad, I feel like a glutton for punishment.

To have this on the record: I didn’t want it to end this way.

I miss what used to be, and the people they used to be (or, I should say, the people I thought they were). I close my eyes at night and cannot fall asleep because memories play on a loop in my head. I still wake up sad, knowing that I have to deal with the feelings of loss and betrayal and even humiliation all over again — they haven’t packed their bags and left town.

But one thing that I do know (as someone who has experienced these types of “breakups” before), is while it’s going to get worse before it gets better, it’s going to get better. Writing, of course, helps. Chats with friends help a lot. Knowing that my parents understand that I can’t just blink and be “over this” — and that I have their support (as not all millennials are lucky enough to have supportive parents) helps.

But I have to keep reminding myself that it gets better, and that instead of focusing on who I’ve lost, it’s important to focus on who is still here and hasn’t left my side for one second.

2017 is going to be the year of finding out who my friends are. And I’m so grateful for everyone who has listened and held me up (and will continue to do so) through this little mess.

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