Ever since I was a young girl, I treated my best friends like sisters from another mister and brothers from another mother. I did everything with them, told them everything, and made them my everything. I saw them as extended family, but I was closer to them than I was with my own family. But I saw a pattern: besides my group of four friends from childhood, everyone else walked out of my life. The most recent “friend breakup” happened over the past month, and before now, I was certain that person was going to be my future maid of honor.

It feels like I am grieving a death of someone I loved while they’re still alive. I’m going through all of the stages: denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and then hopefully and eventually, acceptance.

With romantic relationships, there’s the expectation of monogamy, but there’s no such thing in friendships. I could always get over breakups with boyfriends relatively quickly (having rebounds helps, but that’s another issue of its own). But with friends, it tends to take me years before I am completely over them. With some friendships, it ended out of immaturity and their rejection of my disability – claiming that it was too embarrassing or too hard to handle. But with others, it delved much deeper:

For full disclosure, I’m not blaming my parents/family for anything, but I have to admit this: I came from a family that was unstable in many aspects, and I wasn’t that close to my siblings as our age gaps are significant. I had never talked much with my parents, and there was always a disconnect. And I desperately tried to fill in those gaps with my friends. I even fostered relationships/connections with my friends’ families, but I could never return that favor back to them. But now I am wondering if I was so fragile and low in self-esteem that I was depending on my friends for validation. Probably yes. I tend to be a closed book with people I’m just low-key friends with – acquaintances, but with my closest friends, I wear my heart on my sleeves. I treat them like I’ve always wished I could treat my family: that I could drop all of my baggage on them, or treat them like therapists, but they’ll still love me unconditionally. But have I been too preoccupied with my own wants and needs that I couldn’t see that my friends needed the same things I needed? Did I cross the line too far? Was I that conceited? But instead of trying to gain this particular friendship back, I’m treating this as a wake-up call.

Instead of seeking for validation from others, I am trying my validate my own existence – to truly believe that I am worthy of existing as I am. I am realizing that in order to be better friends to others, I need to first become self-reliant and fill in some of the gaps by myself. This is certainty a work in process, but what’s important is that I am working on this. I cannot truly love a best friend or a boyfriend if I don’t love myself or not being compassionate toward myself.

But for now, I’m considering that letting go might be the best way to be the friend this person needs right now.

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