When You Are No Longer The “Best Friend”
Editor’s Note: It has been said that the only thing worse than losing your boyfriend is losing your best friend. And from my experience, it’s true. It can be brutal, and embarrassing to admit how deep the ache goes. Merrie Dortignac shares the story of her relationship with her childhood best friend, and what happens when “best friends forever!!!” changes. – Lauren
I met the girl I called my best friend when I was ten years old. Our family had heard of theirs, and invited them over for dinner.
When I was fifteen, awkward, shy and insecure, I finally clicked with her. We hit it off over a week long camping trip and became nearly inseparable. She’s the girl who is full of life. It dances in her eyes and bubbles over when she laughs. And she loves to laugh.
She’d always had more than one “best friend,” never limiting herself or excluding anyone, but as long as I was on the list, I was happy.
She held my hand when I got my ears pierced, and I did her hair and make-up for her high school graduation. I liked her brother and she liked mine. We planned on raising our kids together, after she got back from her dream trip to Africa. I would teach her kids how to cook and she would teach mine how to play basketball.
Something changed along the years, and the list of “best friends” shortened until I was the only one left on it, everybody else either moving away or getting married.
She confided in my that her biggest fear in life was that she would be “replaced” and I swore that would never happen between us.
When our church split and her family left, she swore it wouldn’t change anything.
We mirrored each other to the point where it was hard to tell where one left off and the other started. Cutting bangs, growing out bangs, straightening our hair, matching t-shirts – the works. I guess we even started making the same facial expressions, because the people who knew us the best were always telling us that we looked alike.
I remember the day my world caved in like it was yesterday. We were sitting on the couch in my living room after playing volleyball one Sunday.
“Who is your best friend?” I asked, hopeful, needing my ego stroked.
I remember the look on her face when she turned to me, dismay clouding her eyes. “Um, _______ is.”
My ears were ringing from the shock and pain, my eyes stinging while I offered a controlled response. “Oh. Okay.”
What happened to best friends forever? How could she do that? Her biggest fear was being replaced, so she should know better than to replace me! What does this other girl have that I don’t have? I’m I really so worthless? The questions and memories swirled around and around inside my head until at 3am I couldn’t take it any longer. Uncontrollable sobbing wracked my body, as I laid there in my bed in the dark, waking my dad who came in and offered comfort without judgement or advice.
I’ve never cried more in my life than I did for the next couple of months. In my bed, hiding in the bathroom, in the car at a party where she was, even at a stop light on my way to work.
“God, what are you trying to teach me!? I’m ready to learn the lesson and get on with it, because this hurts too much!”
Life continued as normal, our families meeting up every week or so, only this time my friend had her new best friend in tow.
“Is she trying to rub it in my face!? God, please, I give the situation to you. Give me grace to deal with it.”
I began to realize that I had put our relationship above my relationship with God, and that it had become unhealthy. I got to the point where I thanked God for taking my best friend away. I gave the situation over to Him at least once a week. I begged Him for grace. I begged Him to make the pain stop.
I thought I was growing closer to Jesus through that time, but something was still missing – it hurt to see my old friend with her new friend.
We tried to talk it out but I always ended up more angry and hurt than before. I did my best to make her feel my pain. I laid the guilt on as thick as I could every chance I got, trying to make her see how lonely I was – how this was all her fault and then I cried some more, because we could never go back to the way it was before. She wanted us to remain friends, to get past it and hopefully grow closer, but I didn’t see how that was possible.
I mean, hadn’t I tried? I’d given up my rights and expectations to God a hundred million times already. I’d asked for grace, so surely He’d granted it.
One Sunday afternoon, a day I can remember just as clearly as the day that my world caved in, I was lying on the bottom bunk-bed by the window, preparing my heart and my attitude for my friend’s arrival, not certain her best friend would be in tow, but preparing myself for the possibility.
“Father, I’m begging you, give me grace.”
I have. I’ve offered grace each time you asked, but you’ve never picked it up and used it. You’ve never received it. It’s a two way street.
It was like a ton of bricks hit me between the eyes and a load of bricks was lifted off of my shoulders at the same time. I left the room and was able to look my friends in the eye, smile and tell them I was glad that they came.
The damage control took longer. It was months before trust and camaraderie were restored. The bitterness I’d been harboring was poisoning my family as well as myself. I had some serious apologies to make, but lucky for me, they were more than willing to forgive.
And I’ve learned so much since that day. I learned that a best friend doesn’t have to be exclusive. I learned that God is good. I learned that I needed to be separated from my friend so that I could grow into me. I learned that the impossible things are possible. I learned what it means to be a friend. I’ve learned that I am loved beyond comprehension and my relationship status or friendship status cannot change that.
That grace you’ve been requesting for so long? The more you use, the more I give.
Now? I’ve been filled. I’ve seen what grace is. I’ve been forgiven and I’ve been healed. My “ex-best friend” is still one of my best friends in the world, and that girl shook up my life those years ago, my best friend’s best friend? I’m thankful to be able to count her as one of my close friends today.
All my life I’ve believed in redemption and grace and healing and forgiveness. I’d been raised with the concepts drilled into me since before I could walk and talk. But the day I opened my heart to accept the grace that God so freely offers me was the day I started to live.
“You’ve changed, Merrie. You’re happier now than you were two years ago.” A different friend remarked one afternoon.
“I hope so!” I replied. “I think I finally became a Christian.”
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