I miss my best friend. You’re told these stories that as you grow up that you and your friends will grow apart. It’s a natural subsequent of chasing dreams, climbing the career ladder, and budding relationships that we hope will lead to the start of our own families. While this may be true, I feel like it’s a guise that people use to make themselves feel better with the fact they drift apart from people who once mattered.

It seems to be that my male friends are always present when I need them without ever holding on to the times we butted heads. It takes a lot more for females to truly get along and it has taken a toll on me.

Friendships are important. While it is not necessary to speak everyday, it is important to feel like you’re safe to be yourself within that bond. A choice and action to share a judgment free space with someone. Friendship is more important to me because of the abandonment I felt at the hands of being the product of teenage parents. I had no choice in my dad being a dead beat or the fact that I would not have a real relationship with my mom until I was well into my twenties. To label someone my friend is a badge of honor and meaning to me because solitude was the river I was pushed down as a youth. Even as a little girl when I played alone or escaped into books, I was aware that the eclectic amalgamation of my energy set me apart from almost everyone around me.

The moment I found my first friend I was free to be myself in totality. Then there came the people who wanted to be my friend because I was smart or because I had certain things or dressed a certain way. It became hard for me to distinguish faux from real. I brought the faulty belief from my childhood that people did not need to be in your life. Therefore, you should be the best you to them at all times. Without the realization that being the best you means those around you are replenishing your well just as often as they take sips from your spirit. Just because people do not have to be in your life does not give them the right to usher in a drought to keep their own grass-green.

My best friend since the 6th grade religiously chose guys over me and would disappear out of my life whenever she got a new boyfriend. I would welcome her back with open arms each time those guys broke her heart. When I was a senior in high school, my close friend slept with my then boyfriend, something he felt he needed to do since I refused to give him my virginity. He spewed this news at me during an argument a few months later. And only after confronting my friend when I left for college did she admit this betrayal. I forgave her only for her in later years to use her own guilty conscience as ammo to tell her ex-boyfriend to not speak to me because it made her uncomfortable. After this, I found a new friend, someone who was nothing like me but who accepted the fact that I was a smart girl and recognized the power I held within myself. Unfortunately it was power I was unaware I wielded and so she used it to her own advantage. Until one day, I smarted up to her ways and chastised her about her antics. That was the end of our friendship and the beginnings of her muddying my name whenever anyone spoke highly of me.

In retrospect, I have come to learn like with most choices involving relationships platonic or intimate, I make poor choices regarding myself.  I put people before me and I blame myself when they do things to hurt me. I also recognize that most people befriended me because of the power I possess. According to bell hooks, “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.” I’m learning that more and more everyday.

Most recently, my best friend, whom I met during the first week of high school, has been a distant memory. To most people whenever I speak on the anguish I feel about our lack of closeness, I’m met with the idea that I’m jealous of her relationship. I don’t think there is anyone happier for her than I am. But I’m also realizing those moments when I was needed, I bent the world to make sure she got what it was she sought to obtain. Yet, when the time came for that to be reciprocated to me very little was done and things changed because of it. My ex was wary of her because of this and I brushed it off as him not understanding the dynamic of our friendship. She also hated how easily it was for him to push me aside when things got rough. Evidently, I lost the both of them as a result of being overly selfless.

After my breakup, I will admit that I was a shitty friend, if I could have been a better one, I would have been.  But I was also someone who could barely get through a single day without a breakdown and the people who I needed, instead of trying to help me just left me to fend for myself. While that hurts me immensely, what came from that is this amazing nearness to my mother. She was the one who let me cry on nights I could not collect myself, the person who checked that I was pushing myself and promising me that it would be better, revealing things about her own relationships that she never before told me.

My mom became my friend and insighted memories of her own mother to me. Honestly, my grandmother was my first friend in my younger years and losing her scarred me.

Then there was Lacey and if in my teenage years, someone would have told me she would become a corner to my soul, I probably would have laughed. There was tension on my part because Lacey became friends with my cousin and her presence became the topic of discussion in my home, when my own presence continued to be invisible to my own family. When that family would then kick me out years later, it was Lacey who let me sleep on her snug, coffee brown leather couch until I got my life together and moved out on my own. She got me in ways back then and now that no one has before and I finally realized what it means to be a real friend. To have a place for inspiration, support, honesty, openness, and for someone to tell me when I’m overreacting about life.

With Lacey, came the equally spunky relationship I have with Chassity. To me Chass is this fearless, nonchalant soul who rolls with life’s punches, never getting too worked up over the jabs threw her way. She takes everything in stride and laughs at her own shortcomings, constantly reminding me of who I am and what I’m capable of. Telling me to be unapologetic for who I am. These two are there for me and have been for every moment in the last few years. We don’t always agree and we bicker like an old married couple, annoyed at each other’s idiosyncrasies some days and giving each other things to laugh at for the days in between. We work things out and anchor one another when needed. Unlike so many other people who are “friends” with individuals for the position they have on a social ladder or because it means they learn things about people they don’t like.

Manipulation should not be present in a friendship or any healthy relationship for that matter.

Lastly, there were people who I’d met through that ex who would call, text, and e-mail to make sure I was getting along well. Or strangers who I grew close with because they put in an effort to make sure I was being my best me at all times. It was in these actions that I recognized that friendship is not fleeting and that at some point I should not have to give up parts of myself to be in a friendship. Everyone should be putting equal amounts of effort into a bond and it may not always happen at the same time but it will happen.

That’s where I have been going wrong all these years. Being selfless to selfish people. Lulling aspects of myself to maintain other people’s happiness out of an obligation to friendship, without receiving the same courtesy in return.

Friendship is not a state of mind, it’s an action. You do friendship and it is not about being a good or bad friend because life does not exist on a black and white binary. Friendship is like a seesaw and is about a balance between people and a reflection of self for those involved. You return the trust that you’ll be available, when the other needs you. We let competition, selfishness, greed and a host of other things get in the way of friendship and drifting apart is sometimes easier than dealing with those issues.

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