The latest instalment of, ‘My Therapist Gave Me An Assignment: Write about Your Ex’.
If you haven’t already figured out by the title, I lost my “friends”. I put quotes around ‘friends’ because funny enough they weren’t friends at all. These were people in my life for what seemed like forever who simultaneously masqueraded as people who gave a shit about me, my well-being, my art, my insecurities, my dreams, and in short, everything else. These were friends that were mutually shared with him and as soon as he left, they followed suit. For months I contemplated on whether or not I could handle or simply get over them knowing my ex was seeing someone else and for a while I thought I could. I thought: he’s their friend as well, so keeping secrets from me was okay. Me constantly professing my love about my ex to my “friends” as they knew he was seeing somebody else was totally alright. Warn me? That wasn’t their job. I was supposed to get over it just as they told me every time we met up.
While I sound a little bitter and a lot of angry, I’ve spent months in pain trying to face the fact that while we had exceptional times, I knew I could no longer call these people friends. Breaking up with them in my mind was just as hard as it was physically with him. Shortly after, one of my childhood friends took me out to the Russian and Turkish Baths in the east village. I received what would be the greatest water massage I had ever been given. I cried as my Russian masseuse beat the shit out of me and relieved the momentary stress from my body. Together, my friend and I melted in the sauna and talked about everything: my insomnia, my inability to eat/force feeding myself, my anxiety, my hard time breathing, my dwindling relationship with my parents, my fear of leaving the house, my friends not feeling like friends, being let go from my job, trying to find a therapist that truly understood me, medicated me, and wasn’t $200.00 per appointment. I showed her text messages him and I recently exchanged and instantly became vulnerable. For those that know me, you know that I don’t cry in public – let alone around other people (this includes people I love and feel comfortable around); I don’t ever talk about my problems because I alway feel there’s a time and a place for that; I am strong and resilient; and I never show that I am affected by anything. But all of this made me realize that that’s what friends are for. To be vulnerable and not feel like a burden. My friends wouldn’t be annoyed or snap “get over it” when these feelings were fresh and came in waves. Instead, my friend said on the phone to me “remember that not only are you allowed to feel what you’re feeling, but feel it for as long as you possibly can” she further explained that if I need to scream, scream. If I need to cry, cry. Whatever it is I need to feel even if it’s repetitive, that it needs to be expressed in order to feel like you’ve “dealt” with your emotions. That it’s okay if I was mourning for three months or three years, that it takes time and I should never be embarrassed at feeling what I feel for however long I feel it.
Because of my best friends, I no longer need to see a therapist. I can spend hours upon hours discussing each and every problem with the few people I call friends. I recently watched an interview with Barbra Walters and Oprah. Walters asks to describe Oprah’s friendship with Gale. She says:
“She is the mother I never had. She is the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better person.”
These are what friends are. People that are happier for you than you are for yourself when opportunities present themselves. They’re people that feel just as much pain when you’re not happy. I know who I am because of the people I’ve kept around.
Words & Illustration by Megan Tatem.