How to Get Over a Bestie Breakup

There is one secret off-limits topic that has followed me for decades: girl friends and the unspoken issues that come up between us. I have to be honest, even thinking about writing this article brought up a lot of resistance– as if the very idea of writing about my fear of female confrontation was enough to silence even my inner voice. In speaking to other women about this, everyone came up short on solutions. We have all experienced times in our lives where we have had to ‘break up’ with our girl friends, but there doesn’t seem to be any consensus when it comes to the tools or solutions. In fact, the answers I got back most generally involved some form of backing off, giving space, not addressing the issues head-on and just sort of waiting until the friendship was ready to come back around or letting it simply drift away completely.  

From my earliest memories I have always surrounded myself with– or attached myself to– super-strong, generally popular, pretty best friends. When I was younger I desperately sought approval and acceptance from them. In exchange, I kept my mouth shut and accepted how I was treated and spoken to. In one particularly cruel high school event, my then bestie managed to convince our entire grade to stop speaking to me on a bus trip to Niagara Falls for no good reason other than she knew she could. I allowed it, because I was too afraid to stand up to her. In my mind that would have meant losing the return of her favor– which eventually came back around.  

As I’ve gotten older the pattern morphed into less dramatic abuse, more of a not-so-subtle inability to speak up for myself. (More passive, less aggressive). I’ve let friends tell me what they think I should or shouldn’t do, where I should live, what they think is wrong with me, take things out on me, ignore me, mock me… My own words and feelings would flood my body. My nervous system, adrenaline, and opinion would shoot through my veins pushing self-expression up through my body only to get caught in my throat and shoved back down where it came from.  

But wait! Haven’t I spent the better part of the last 10 years learning to connect to my true self? Talking about everything I was learning to anyone that would listen? My old program of wanting to be liked was running louder than my new program of liking myself. My throat chakra had developed a lifetime of unexpressed anger and emotion, and it’s no wonder that it also developed a slow-growing cancer.

As a woman, the need to communicate clearly is so very important as we define our boundaries and our relationships to ourselves and to each other. So how do we draw the line between being non-reactive and being a doormat?

The consensus amongst the women I spoke to is again, rather varied. Allowing space for people to drift apart, evaluating whether or not the friendship is one that is still relevant and leaves you feeling good, accepting friends for what they are able to give you, and letting go of expectations. In meditation I always tell people to pay attention to relevancy; sometimes relationships simply run their course, and to hold onto them will only cause suffering. Surrendering to the ‘what is’ and not the ‘what I wish this still was’.  

I heard a spiritual teacher say the other day, “The work doesn’t protect us from suffering, it allows us to move through it.”  In that moment I realized that in fear of speaking up to my girl friends I wasn’t being fluid, I was paralyzed– playing dead, like a doormat. Without the movement there can be no flow, no change, no surrender.

Going through my cancer treatment over the last year many friendships began to unravel around me. I had run out of ways to pretend everything was okay, and so I needed to start to let go. I took myself out of the line of fire by literally removing myself. I stopped spending energy I didn’t have making plans or being the person always reaching out. I let the idea of needing to be approved of and liked go. If friends came around to me and made efforts to connect I made space for them, but most importantly, I began learning how to make best friends with me.

This girl stuff is complicated. Life, as long or as short as it can be, doesn’t allow for time to be wasted. If a friendship isn’t making us happy and it comes to a bump in the road, then allow each other the space to acknowledge and talk about it. If efforts are not made or the conversation never comes, allow that friendship to move into a new space. Surrendering isn’t so much a thing we must do, it’s just a matter of moving out of the way of what must be done… or at least that’s what Buddha says.  

Although, in actuality, he only surrounded himself with guy friends. Maybe he was on to something?

Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.

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3 responses to How to Get Over a Bestie Breakup

last year, I offered a woman who I’d considered to be a ‘best’ or close friend a ride to the airport as she was off to Italy and a wonderful experience. I had been to Italy and I advised her how to pack, travel in the city and loaned her a few items for safety.

As we drove to the airport I confided in this friend that I’d interviewed for a low paying job and was considering leaving design engineering for a simpler life. The position was for office manager at a local Montessori school. I knew I needed a change in my life and thought this opportunity was calling me to create my change….I could pay down my mortgage, live on less income and finally augment my days as the award winning artist that I am while working part time as the office manager.

A few weeks passed and my friend returned from her trip but I didn’t hear much from her and thought that to be odd, since this was a trip she had been anticipating for a long time…. At the same time I realized I had not heard back from the interview I had taken the day of her departure…I called the Montessori school, only to learn the position had been filled. I though it was strange that they never even contacted me to let me know; the interview had gone quite well for me that day…

The following week as I drove by my friend’s garden I noticed her there picking vegetables and I stopped. She seemed apprehensive in my presence, but we still talked and I asked all about her trip. Our conversation moved to “abundance ” vs “scarcity” and we both agreed that having the abundance mentality was best, always believing there was enough to go around. Then the conversation became moreof a lecture on her part, about how she lived by this attitude of abundance. She then informed she that she had been offered a job recently. When I asked where, she told me she was the “new office manager at the Montessori school” — Even though the office manager position was not advertised anywhere, she had somehow been offered and accepted the position. I figured out that she had betrayed my confidence and gone behind my back to sell herself to the Montessori school master and get the office manager job, for which I was in line….. I felt totally betrayed and even though, ultimately I was not the right candidate, and perhaps she was, I could not stand behind the way she got the job and I confronted her, letting her know that she no longer had my trust. A year passed and I had the opportunity to bring a child to the school one day where this friend worked now. When I arrived with the child to ask directions to the coat room, this woman who had been my friend and confidant for over 17 years, simply snubbed me, barely raising her eyes over the rim of her glasses.

Since, I have written to her and asked her why she treated me this way, not only there but in the supermarket, shop etc….she replied and said “I have forgiven you…..but I simply have no interest or time to rekindle our friendship”

So goes the story of my bestie breakup. It still stings to see her. It hurts to know that I was so insignificant in her life that she would betray my and take from me in that way… all the while, ironically touring her abundance mantality, which was in reality the exac opposite; not believing she could receive what she felt she had to steal….anyway,,,the relationship changed the way I form friendships and the way I trust people. I have gained more confidence in standing up for my beliefs, and in reading aspects of personalities which are not genuine,

Side note: this year she was not asked to return to the school as office manager…(i heard) instead she was asked to move on. It turned out she did not fit in well with the school’s philosophy or the others who worked there….KARMA ABUNDANCE & LOVE

Have been reading ” Between Women: Love, Envy and Conpetition in Women’s Friendships” by Susie Orbach and Luise Eichenbaum which touches on Los of great links to lots of the common issues that come up between women. If anything it was nice to have those feelings validated as normal.

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