We had both recently left the workforce to be stay-at-home parents and quickly became friends.
Our breakup happened in the middle of a parking lot full of nosey moms at school pickup.
It has been almost eight years since that day, and the pain of our abrupt split hurt so much.
I noticed her on the first day of playschool. I had dropped off my very excited and surprisingly independent child and was about to leave. She was outside the classroom in a familiar struggle — dealing with a reluctant preschooler and a fussy baby. "Here, let me help you," I said and gestured with open arms to the other woman to give me the baby.
My younger child was happily dozing off in the baby carrier on my back, oblivious to the commotion around us, only to wake up when she realized I was holding another baby. She reached her tiny hand out toward him. This is how they met, our little ones who would become inseparable, just like their mothers.
We became inseparable
We each had two kids, had recently left the workforce to be stay-at-home parents, and quickly became each other's other better half. We would drop our kids off at each other's houses to go grocery shopping or to appointments without children in tow. We spoke on the phone or texted multiple times a day. We celebrated our children's milestones, brainstormed about our kids' behavioral issues, and complained about our spouses. We took our kids everywhere together — the zoo, museums, festivals, and the new fancy playground cafés that were popping up all over town.
I had other friends at this time — those swiftly moving years of early motherhood when relationships are built with the people who are in it with you — but none I cherished more than her. For the first time in my life, I understood the deep connection and belonging one feels when you find your ride-or-die, your BFF, your "you are my person" person.
She broke up with me
When a situational and seasonal bout of depression hit me a few years later, I started seeing a therapist. During one of my weekly sessions, I had what most would describe as a breakthrough. Afterward, as I did at the time, I processed my feelings through writing. And, as I also did at the time, I pressed publish on said writing and posted it to my blog: a weekly missive on parenting, life, and oversharing read by hundreds of followers all over North America.
The very next day, my ride-or-die-bff-person broke up with me.
She confronted me in the middle of a parking lot full of nosey moms at school pick-up. Around us, kids piled into cars while their parents stared, mouths agape, witnessing our very public breakup. "Why do you feel the need to tell the whole world about your problems and your breakthrough in therapy, but you can't even pick up the phone and talk to me about it?"
I was confused by her anger. My brain was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. I remember focusing on my breathing and trying to calm my heart to prevent it from beating right out of my chest. She told me she couldn't continue our friendship because I wasn't the kind of friend who could have a "bawling on the kitchen floor" breakdown with her. By the time she had finished berating me, I felt as if every brick had been picked up and mortared back into place, rebuilding whatever walls I had torn down in therapy the day before. I stood in that parking lot long after all the cars and stares had left, overwhelmed with sadness. Seven years of our lives, our children's whole lives, and our closest friendships were tossed aside without warning.
It's been 8 years since our friendship breakup
Even though we travel in the same orbits in our relatively small community and city, my ex-best friend and I have never spoken of that day. It was a hard break. She never tried to mend our relationship, and I was too hurt to reach out to her.
It's been almost eight years since that day, and the pain of our abrupt split still echoes within me. It was more devastating than any romantic breakup I've ever experienced — and I've been dumped via text by a boyfriend.
As a society, we don't really talk about friendship breakups. It's normal for romantic partners to try couples therapy and work out issues, but I have never heard of or known any friends who have gone to therapy together to work through a difficult time. To this day, I still wonder whether there could have been a way for my friend and me to remain friends.
It has taken me a long time to accept that some friendships are just not meant to last. I still feel the sting of how things ended with my friend, but the benefit of time and distance has given me the chance to be grateful for what we did have in those early years when we needed each other most.
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