Friends for Never

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Friends for Never
A letter to the former friend I’ve known forever.

Dear friend,

We grew up together. We were best friends before we ever learned how to be, and maybe that was our problem: we didn’t know how to be friends.

But we acted like we did.

We had sleepovers often. We stayed up all night playing video games, trading Beanie Babies, arguing over which boy band was the best (N’SYNC still beats Backstreet Boys, no question), and making jokes at the expense of our parents. You were my very first friend, and I loved you like a brother before I had one.

But you weren’t my brother.

I’m not sure when things changed between us. My family moved away at the same time yours was falling apart, and though we were separated as much by emotional distance as physical distance, we tried our hardest to stay in touch.

I’ll admit: you tried much harder than I did. I knew your feelings were stronger than mine, but I led you to believe my feelings were mutual. Honestly, I thought I was supposed to. I’ve always been a romantic, and you were the closest I had ever had to a boyfriend. Our parents had encouraged our imitation of a romance since we were in diapers. They thought it was cute, and it was.

Until it wasn’t anymore.

Perhaps I had strung you along for too long and you were sick of caring, but something changed in the way we interacted. You no longer cared about me. Not even as a friend.

I remember the late night phone calls where I would tell you the deepest secrets, my most tormented feelings, and you would laugh because the sound of my voice was amusing. And when the late night calls turned into late night texts, our conversations turned perverse. You couldn’t have a normal conversation with me. Every conversation turned sexual, and if I tried to have a normal conversation with you, you would get angry and stop talking to me. You had no respect for my relationships, my feelings, or me. Because of this, we would stop talking for long periods of times. I would only contact you at my worst of times, when I had so little self-worth that our perverse friendship and conversations seemed salvageable.

The night we had sex was one of those times, and you knew that. You knew everything I had been through, and you didn’t care. You only cared that I was going to give you the one thing I had always denied you. Afterwards, I was scared, and I told you that. You thought I was delusional to think you would stop talking to me, stop respecting me now that we had slept together. And you were right. Sex had nothing to do with it. You had stopped talking and respecting me long before we slept together. 

I didn’t hear from you for almost a year after that night, and when I finally got the nerve to ask you why, you said it was because of my faith. And then you proceeded to complain about your current relationship that failed, about the girl you spent all year pursuing, about your hopeless views on love and life. I tried to be your friend, but I was realizing that friendship is a two-way-street. 

And you had stopped being a friend to me a long time ago.

We didn’t talk until a few months later, when my friend asked me to get in touch with you because she wanted to meet you. You didn’t respond until we were already out for the night, and by that point I was no longer sober. I don’t remember our conversation, but I know we had one because your number was on my call log the next morning. Your number was also one of many who received the text message I sent in my intoxicated state: do I matter to you?

You, the friend I have known my entire life, were the only one who said no.

I received the text message in a coffee shop the next morning, hungover, sick, and struggling to get my life together. I was already a mess. Your text message was absolutely devastating. I knew you were going through hard stuff at the time, but that didn’t excuse your behavior and how you treated me.

But I want to thank you because if you hadn’t told me the truth, I don’t think reality would have hit me quite as hard as it needed to. 

We weren’t friends. We hadn’t been for a long time, longer than we had ever been friends. And we had been friends once, perhaps before we understood what friendship really means. I’ve known you my whole life, but that doesn’t make us friends, and that doesn’t mean you’re meant to stay in my life. I know that now.

And I know that I am just as much to blame for the ending of our friendship. I’m sure there are many times I should have been there for you, and I wasn’t. I’m sure I made you feel just as insignificant and terrible and used as you made me feel. And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry we couldn’t be friends. I’m sorry our shared past isn’t enough to share a present or a future. I’m sorry it took me this long to see how little respect we had for each other. I’m sorry it took me this long to realize how much we were only hurting each other by staying in touch. I’m sorry it took me this long to let you go.

I wish you well. Wherever life takes you, I hope it leads you to love and the greatest of success. I hope all your friendships are real, a two-way-street. I hope you receive just as much as you give because I know you are such a wonderful, giving person when you truly care about someone. I hope you find the love you’re looking for, and I hope it lasts. I hope you stay strong through the hard times, and never stop striving for your best because I know you will get there. I know you will accomplish great and wonderful things in your life. You’re much too smart not to.

And I know one day I will see your name and face on the television or in the paper, talking of your great accomplishment, and I will remember the little boy who used to hold my hand and drive me around in my Barbie Jeep, the boy who was my friend. And I will smile, even though you aren’t that boy anymore, even though that friendship ended long ago. Because that little boy was still worth knowing, and that friendship was still worth having. Everything ends eventually, so I’m just grateful you existed in my life at all.

Best Wishes,


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