A year without you: Lessons learned from a friendship breakup | 9Lives
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Hi, friend. It’s been more than a year since you walked out of my life one early morning in December. First things first, how was your year? I heard from our mutual friends that you got a dog and that you still play action cricket on Tuesdays. It made me wonder, who takes care of the dog when you play action cricket? Oh, nevermind, you’ve met someone as well. 

I don’t see you on my feed anymore. Not quite sure if you decided to take a break from social media or just from me. Luckily my phone was stolen so I can’t reminisce about our friendship while scrolling through old conversations.  My year went well. I don’t think about our friendship so constantly anymore and some weeks will fly by without me wanting to tell you a story about what’s been happening in my life. You were a beautiful chapter and a great year wouldn’t be possible without the friendship that shaped me into the person I am today. I still write your setlist for a gig every week. I still drink a new craft beer and write the name down in my Beer Appreciation book.

As I’m writing this, I came across a statement that hits hard. Friendship breakups are worse than romantic ones. Why? According to psychotherapists we’ve been conditioned to be more careful with romantic relationships and know that when it comes to people’s emotions and affection it’s important to proceed with caution and be alert. It means that friendship breakups are more painful because in the back of your mind you are not preparing for the worst, you just fall head over heels into that friendship. Because friends are always there, right? As I still picture that morning in my mind, I wish I knew that that would be the end of a wonderful friendship. If I had known that, I would have hugged you longer and given you your final setlist for an upcoming gig. 

But the wonderful thing about our friendship is that still, to this day, you teach me stuff that no one else could. So here are the lessons I learned since you dumped me. 

Time is healing

Time will heal all pain. I know this is very predictable, but I realised the truth in these words much later in my year without you. Just like any other breakup, you need to grieve the loss, and it takes time. But one day you will feel the healing replacing the pain and that only comes from time. Take the time to reflect on what this shift means to you and feel the discomfort of sadness. The first lesson I learned from this breakup is that only time will help you to let go. You have to take the time to make peace with yourself and with a life without your best friend. When it’s a romantic relationship that has ended, you can more easily brush it off with the oh-so-famous statement “We weren’t meant to be.” But in the case of friendships, that’s not so true. Friendships like ours are meant to be, and the moment I realised that, the healing process started. Your friendship is the benchmark for friendships in the near future. 

Listen more, talk less

I’m not a good listener. I ask for advice just to stuff it in your face and then I just act the way I intended before I asked for your opinion. I’m working on listening more and speaking less. This all started with you. I was in a dark place and fell in love with the wrong person. You were there, wiping away tears and supporting me through the tough times. You advised me to stop with what I was doing and told me that what I was  busy with would destroy me. I didn’t listen and it blew up in my face. The second lesson I learned from our breakup is that the advice and opinions of friends is something you should not take lightheartedly. This advice comes from an outsider that sees everything more clearly than you do, and they know what’s best for you. To this day, I will always regret that I didn’t listen to you, but lessons are learned and every day I’m giving more thought to the advice and opinions my friends give me today.

Throw away the bad and keep the good

It’s natural to replay a failed friendship or relationship over in your head to determine where it all went wrong. But what we should be focusing on is how the relationship fulfilled us and how the good overcomes the bad. I boxed up all the bad and focused on the good. This taught me the lesson of gratitude. Now, I’m grateful for the friendship I had and when I think of you, I only think of the good things. Gratitude will go a longer way. Yes, I regret losing you, but I’m grateful for what you taught me, how you supported me and for dancing away my last day in Gauteng with you at a music festival. 

It takes two to tango

The last lesson I learned was the hardest one. It’s a cliché, I know but it’s spot on. A breakup is rarely ever just one person’s fault. It’s easier to blame the person that dumped you than to look at your own role in it. The moment I got closure was when I acknowledged the role I played in the breakup. This is also an important lesson to keep in mind in future friendships. To accept your fault will help you with the journey from what friend you were, who you are now and what friend you will be in the future. 

Here is to another year! If you want to sing a few songs again, you know where I am, right there where you left me.

Author

The VaaIie girl with a laugh better than the joke itself. If you’ve lost me in the crowd, look for the red hat. Or the shoulder pads. Or the floral-patterned blazer. I’ve got a winner of a party trick, just give me a shot of tequila and a raw egg, and if you’re not sure how to start the conversation, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

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