2020 was a really difficult year. There were floods and windstorms. My husband and dad both spent way too much time in the hospital. Oh yeah, and there was a global pandemic that completely flipped our lives upside down. I went from being a super social person that spent a lot of time with friends to being forced to be more introverted.
That year of seclusion came after a difficult year before it, where I went from feeling like part of the “cool kids club” to feeling left out from everything in an instant. The quarantine only made this worse. That summer I wrote a blog about how I had been feeling – “Somewhere I Belong”. A few months later I shared an article on my Facebook titled “It’s Lonely Being the B-List Friend”. That article had a similar tone to it, feeling second best, like a last minute add on, or an afterthought to many of my friends and friend groups.
Several people commented that they could totally relate to the article and that they were pleased to finally have a name to put on the way that they had been feeling. Some left positive notes, like “You’re a good friend!” “I love you!” “You are enough.” which was all meant to be kind, but it dismissed what I was trying to say. One of my friends commented and said what I wanted to say better than I could have said it myself: “I think what people aren’t realizing when reading this and applying it to you is that you aren’t saying you don’t have friends, you aren’t saying you aren’t loved… you are saying it hurts to watch people you consider your A-list group, the people you’d ask to a party before anyone else, not extend the same courtesy to you. You know they love you, you know you are friends… you just aren’t the first one they call. And that hurts. And it will always hurt. No matter what.”
I talked to that same friend today about all of the feels I was having when I realized that today is National Best Friends Day. Although there were times in my life when I had someone that I called my best friend, looking back most of the time I didn’t feel like it was mutual. I can recall the times when I had friendships that looked like those best friend relationships you see in the movies – talking for hours on the phone, spending the night at each other’s houses, calling their parents mom and dad and vice versa. Over time the one-on-one friendships evolved into groups, and over time those groups drifted apart. My friend who left that comment on my post two years ago shares those same feelings and has had those same experiences. Today we reflected about that, as well as about our friendship with each other… and we have a pretty freakin’ fantastic friendship!
Instead of repeating the things I said in my blog article “Somewhere I Belong” or regurgitating the message of “It’s Lonely Being the B-List Friend”, I’ll just say this: I still don’t feel like I have that tight knit group of friends I used to have, that I have longed to have, but I do have a lot of really great friends. As far as a “best friend”, I just don’t like that term. I would say that I have a lot of “best friends” but isn’t the point of the term “best” that there’s only one? I won’t lie and say I don’t wish I still had a friend that I talked to for hours on the phone, that I had sleepovers with, that knew me from when I was a kid and into adulthood and considered part of my family.
“National Best Friend Day” makes my heart hurt a little bit, thinking about how a person I thought would always be there for me (even if we hadn’t talked in forever, even if our last exchange with each other wasn’t the greatest) didn’t even acknowledge the death of my mother to me directly. And then I get upset with myself because there were SO many friends who were there, so many friends who not only acknowledged what happened, they supported me in all kinds of different ways. So why am I wasting space in my heart for someone who didn’t? Why am I spending so much energy thinking about my ex best friend on Best Friends Day?
The answer is grief. There are all kinds of grief, and the end of a friendship that held such a big space in my life is absolutely a valid thing to grieve. While writing this blog, I found this article: How to Cope When You Lose a Best Friend. This friendship was a big part of my life for MOST of my life, so I’m going to be grieving it for a long time… if not forever. Certain days will be harder to deal with, they will bring up more feelings, just like certain days are tougher since my mom died.
To end on a positive note, I want to say how grateful I am for the wonderful friends that I do have. Like I mentioned earlier, so many people have been there for me over the years when I really needed support. I have some incredible friends that stepped up for me when Ken was sick or when my mom died.
If I had to name a best friend, it would be Ken – I know he is my husband, but how cool is it that he is also my best friend? He fits all the BFF criteria I mentioned before: his family is my family, we spend hours talking, we have inside jokes, we do everything together, and we have sleepovers together EVERY night!