Approximately four weeks ago, I sobbed the entire length of campus, from Hewitt to WesWings. If someone wants to give me a prize for this amount of heavy-duty crying, that would be very appreciated. I don’t think the exact details of why I was crying are important; what is important is that I had just experienced a breakup. A friend breakup.
There are a lot of things I want in life: the confidence to wear white pants, a better president, a movie version of “In The Heights,” but at the very top of my list are more stories of female friendship. I want stories that show women talking about nothing, about their periods, about politics. I want to see women fighting and making up. I want to see what it looks like when friendships end.
I want a guide on how to get over the end of a friendship because I know how to get over a romantic relationship (thanks to Hollywood, books, and unwanted advice from random relatives.) But what do I do when that breakup is with someone I was platonically in love with? How do you fill the space a person used to take up?
A month ago, I didn’t just lose a friend or someone I loved: I lost my go-to person, my very best friend. It’s been quite a process working through it all. The same night I cried the entire length of campus (again, if you want to give me a prize, that would be great), I made myself stick to the plans I had already made for that evening. I went to a house on Fountain, played a drinking game, and surrounded myself with people I loved. The following days were harder. It wasn’t easy to ignore the absence I now had in my life, and my life seemed to become a game of keeping myself busy. In my downtime, I had two states: sad or angry. Before all of this, I used to joke that I had only felt true anger once in my life, and that was in relation to a failed romance. Now, I was filled with anger 50 percent of the time, and I found that it was tiring and all-consuming.
But faster than expected, my life started up again. As normalcy returned and keeping busy wasn’t really a game anymore, I stopped feeling so angry and sad, and began to really notice the hole where my person had once been. There were things I wanted to tell her, jokes I wanted to laugh with her about, memes that I wanted to send to her. But we didn’t have a friendship anymore, and I didn’t know what to do.
There weren’t just emotional reminders of my loss, but physical ones as well. I still had some of my friend’s belongings—a book, a Christmas gift that I had failed to present on time—and she still had some of mine. One of those is a pair of red, white, and blue striped socks.
Last week, I was infuriated: I saw those socks being worn in Usdan. As I looked down at my former friend’s feet and noticed the socks, my anger returned once again. I’m normally a very passive person—I don’t like confrontation of any kind—but I suddenly found myself thinking of different ways to ask for my socks back. In my head, I imagined myself approaching her and coldly saying, “I see you still have my socks. I’d love it if you could return them,” then turning away before I received an answer. These socks were a physical reminder of all I had lost, and part of me wanted to rip them off her feet right there in the middle of Usdan.
In the end, I resisted the urge to start a full-on fistfight in Usdan. I let my anger simmer and thought of all the good things that had occurred in the time since my initial loss. I reflected upon all the advice I had received, specifically remembering a dinner I had with another friend when she pointed out that prior to college all of our friendships had taken most of my life to form. Friendship took time; it wasn’t something that happened after a day, or even a year.
A month before, I had wholeheartedly believed that the end of this friendship marked the end of my life at Wesleyan. I even looked into the possibility of transferring. Now, I stared at these socks and realized how wrong I had been. I was a more confident and secure person than I had been only a month before. The socks weren’t a symbol of loss, but rather a marker of how much I had grown and changed. I was so much better off now, even though my realization came with a lot of hurt. Leaving Usdan, I decided she could keep the socks—I didn’t need them, or her, anymore.