Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!
The book that inspired this conversation:
What It Is About:
It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe. But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe. For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.
What It Got Me Thinking About:
friend breakups, how friends grow apart, how friendships change over the years
I think when I was younger I thought one of the most painful experiences you could go through was a unrequited love or a breakup with your 6th grade boyfriend but it wasn’t until I hit high school and beyond that I realized two of the most heart-wrenching things in my life would be friend breakups, shifts in friendships and growing apart from friends to the point where you they feel like strangers to you.
I think that’s one of the things A Sense of the Infinite did so well — it chronicled these shifts and that slow drifting apart we can have with even our best friend. It showed how sometimes you realize that a friendship doesn’t quite fit anymore but nobody wants to make a move. I think it was poignant in how the rose colored glasses come off when you recognize the first real crack and how you see things for what they really are. I have definitely experienced all that.
When I was in middle school I had just moved to a new school and new town and I met my best friend in 8th grade. We were THOSE type of best friends who did everything together and preferred to be with each other to everyone else. We had the most inside jokes and it was like a head over heels love affair those 2 years of our friendship. And then I went to high school and she was still a year behind in middle school and, even though we lived 6 houses down, everything slowly shifted to the point that when she finally came to the high school the cracks were far too large. It ended with her dating a boy I knew was trouble and her doing things we swore we would never do — differences I couldn’t get over at the time. That friend breakup was the hardest. SHE WAS MY EVERYTHING. My partner in crime. We were ~friendly~ the rest of high school but it was SO different and that was almost the hardest part. We’ve since seen each other once as adults and we are cool. I’d love to rekindle that friendship but we live so far apart now it doesn’t make sense. I’m happy that she’s happy and I can look at our good memories with fondness rather than bitterness.
More recently as an adult I did a friend breakup with a whole group of people that were a mix of a core group from high school and then some college friends we met and brought into the group. I still get sad about it sometimes but honestly I’m more relieved than everything despite the fact my former bff and college roomie and I have drifted so far apart as a result of me not being part of the GROUP anymore. It was one of those things where they were sole people that I hung out with. It was a mix of guys and girls and I had the most fun with them. But there were THINGS that I think I always recognized even in the height of my friendship with them but just ignored for years and years. After we graduated the drifting really happened even though we all still mostly lived near each other and hung out pretty much every weekend.
I just slowly started to realize that a) I wasn’t having as much fun anymore b) I didn’t have that much in common with them c) there were some toxic elements within the group that would have me come home crying or feeling like crap and d) sometimes I dreaded it more than I enjoyed it and felt like I was walking on eggshells. I still adored quite a few people in that group (especially my bff despite our drifting that had happened) but I just overall wasn’t happy. But I kept just going along with it. Because I liked some of them. Because they are a HUGE part of my history (seriously some of these people I’ve been friends with since high school and they were HUGE parts of how I got through everything with my mom). Because I didn’t have any other friends. Because I was afraid. Because it was comfortable and “breaking up” with them would be one of the biggest upheavals ever.
But I did it. Because of this book that really was a book I needed to read at that time. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I could have probably done better in how I went about it and how I went about even trying to maintain relationships with those I wanted but…it is what it is. It was what I needed to do. I learned. I did what was best for me. I’m in a way better place and am so much happier.
But honestly, each friend breakup was an emotionally devastating thing that I think I wasn’t equipped for. There’s something about a friendship breakup where it doesn’t seem as ~normal~ to mourn it like you would a romantic breakup. There’s a lot of things you lose in a friend breakup that were harder to get back compared to a romantic relationship. With my friends I always had that FOREVER feel whereas with romantic relationships I knew most of them would eventually end.
But I think the hardest thing about the mutual driftings or the friend breakups–whether you are the dumpee or the dumper — is that absence you really do have and that nostalgia that can be so overwhelming. I don’t feel it as much with my 8th grade bff obviously but my friends I had for 10 years? Sometimes the rush of nostalgia hits me so hard when I think about all the good times and the jokes and the things we did and I want to go running back to them. It’s that song I’ll hear or that picture of one of those crazy college nights we had and I’m just transported back so vividly that, in in the present, I can’t comprehend how I’m not friends with them or how it got to the way it was. It makes me so sad sometimes to not be a part of their lives but I also know that a lot of this is fueled by nostalgia where everything looks better. And maybe one day I will be more a part of some of their lives in some capacity but I know for now this is the way it is.
Semi-related note: At this point of my life, one of the many reasons I have a hard time with Facebook, is that I start to miss friendships I had. I feel so much nostalgia and sadness for friendships that are basically just mutually liking of statuses and pictures at this point. People who were so BIG in a part of my life and now they are barely a footnote. WHERE IS THE CLASS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH THAT?
So talk to me about friend breakups or drifting away from friends! Tell me your worst friend breakups and we can commiserate! Why do you think friend breakups sometimes feel worse than romantic breakups?