Why I Divorced My Best Friend of 25 Years


(Photo Credit: Uploaded by Haiinee)

No, I’m not talking about my husband.

I’m talking about my best friend from high school,

the one I stayed up into the wee hours of the night talking to, across states, while she was in medical school and I was a young college student and mother of two little ones;

the one whose wedding I read at, and whose wedding she was matron of honor at;

the one whose eldest child I filmed being born as I hid behind the curtain by the doorway of her delivery room, and whose second child’s delivery, I had to leave because of an emergency cesarean;

the one with whom I commiserated on my heartbreak over my brother who was drawn to toxic relationships, and a mother who was a broken woman after her favorite child’s death many, many years ago;

the one who commiserated with me on things she went through, and did, that I can never repeat.

It was the kind of friendship that inspired me to always introduce her as, “my best friend from high school.”  I always wanted to honor her, our friendship, by this somewhat childish, romanticized way.

It was the kind that had me teach my children that she was their aunt, and that her family was our family.

It was the kind that inspired me to give her the Precious Moments figurine of one girl comforting another as a symbol of our friendship; I had little money back then, and this was expensive to me, and it meant a lot for me to give it to her.

It was the kind that had me dropping everything on my end of the world to be there for her whenever she needed me, even when I had kids and she didn’t, even when I didn’t have any support of family or a mate and she did.

We could not be more different, my once-bestie and I.  We both made mistakes in life that the other wouldn’t dream of.  We both had skills and strengths that the other hadn’t developed.  These differences, we marveled and laughed about often over the years.  Yet we always said that inside, we were the same.

But time started ticking our differences more loudly.  We always had the thread of our shared adolescence and life trials before, but the thread wore too thin to hold anything together anymore.  There is no escaping the curling tendrils of one’s values; like a creeping vine, it eventually takes over the person.

She followed all societal expectations, from mannerisms to presentation, career-choice to family life, dress to social engagements; she sought “perfection,” praise, approval, status quo, and proudly accomplished all these things.  I sought authenticity, transparency, simplicity, a less constricted, less socially fabricated lifestyle, and a more intuitive way of thinking, with which her only-science-allowed mindset disagreed.  We both grew up and grew firmer in what we stood for, and therefore could no longer occupy the same space in the same way.

It did not happen overnight, the dissolution of our relationship.  It was not over one thing, or event, or issue.  Our needs and core values were just not the same, and neither of us could bend towards the other to move alongside her anymore.  And trust was lost in the process.

I know, a lot of people may say, “Twenty five years!  What a waste to throw it all away!”  But I don’t see it that way.  Like a marriage or job that you’ve given so much of your life to, when you’ve squeezed out your efforts and intentions and yet do not feel true to your best self, walking away is honoring the world through honoring your code.

Yesterday was what it was: beautiful or not beautiful, and it is done.

Today, you still need to be nourished, to feel alive, to spend your time in work and company that is aligned with your values and vision to bring you true peace, joy, and harmony.

I still love her very much, and if she called me and needed me for anything, I would be there.  But just as in a marriage that has burned out, from its ashes can be born a life of greater wisdom and truth, and thus can begin a path of authenticity, from where light blooms.


14 thoughts on “Why I Divorced My Best Friend of 25 Years

  1. In spite of not ever having a very best friend, I do feel the same about this topic. Nothing lasts forever and when it comes to friendship, I do believe certain friends fit in a certain stage of your life. I’ve seen it many times before. Once you leave a job, work friends disappear to the background unintentionally. It’s just that the common ground disappears.
    What I have noticed, is that good friends can sort of float in and out of your existence. For example: I have a very good friend that lives on another continent and to whom I speak every now and again through skype or email. Nevertheless, whenever we do meet up, it’s like we pick up right where we left things last time we saw one another! I absolutely love that; I guess we’ll always know that the other one is there for us.
    One question for you though: how does one divorce from a friend? Does one say it out loud? Or does one let it die down?

    • Bianca,

      For me this is true for my schools and universities (I did not have many work friends yet). Once we are no longer together regularly, we tend separate completely.

      The fact that your friend lives on another continent plays a big role, together with the fact that is a very good friend. If you were neighbors / lived in one city and had the same frequency of interaction, this would not work out. There is a subconscious influence: you know that you cannot be that active now, but you remember where you left off.

    • Hi Bianca,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. My former best friend and I did have the kind of friendship that neither time nor distance dented, for a long time. I still have that kind of friendship with others. Without disclosing too many details, basically, she changed as she grew more confident in ways I didn’t care for, and I changed in ways that she was not comfortable with (I started speaking up). And I had just learned to set boundaries with other people, and in that, realized that there were things in our friendship that had bothered me for a long time, but that I kept inside, for the peace, for her happiness. When I realized this, I spoke up, but was not met with an acknowledgment or understanding that she was able to give to people she was less confident with.

      With all of our preexisting superficial differences, the loss of the factors that kept us intimately the best of friends made it a moot point (for me) to continue. Transparency was never her forte, but it is my essence.

      This is all still a very general gist; of course, such a thing is always more complicated and cannot be properly explained without the details that may be harmful to disclose, and so I must omit.

      To answer your question, I used “divorce” because it strangely felt like one; in fact, she told me it felt like a divorce without me mentioning the term. And I am still unsure how to explain to my little one why we can not see “Auntie X” or her daughters anymore. It’s a strange break-up.

      Yes, for me, I had to officially end it by telling her that I could no longer emotionally invest into the relationship; this may not be the way for everyone. I like things in relationships to be clearly communicated, no guessing, and I wanted her to have closure to move on, as I have.

      I don’t recommend this to everyone; I believe we should always make an attempt to save such relationships. Sometimes, though, they truly simply have run their course.

  2. Fantastic article, I know exactly how you feel. I was slightly on the other side of this though, being the career person without children, but I have always been the person who maintains the friendship and fights for it. I went through a period in my mid-30s where gave up contacting her, but then I missed her and wanted to know how she and the kids were going.
    I’d say we grew apart during our late twenties through to mid-30s, and then we’ve grown back together in the last couple of years, which has been lovely. I hate to say it but part of the reason was definitely that she was consumed with being a mum, and lost herself to that process, which made it difficult for me to connect with her and often resulted in me feeling like she was treating me like one of her children.
    Since her kids are now adults, she has rediscovered herself and we have been able to connect again in a much more authentic and supportive way – which has been wonderful.
    I hope, for your friends sake, that you are able to reconnect at a later stage, because that means she will have realised how unfulfilling all of the other crap is and will be trying to reconnect with her authentic self.
    For now, congratulations on taking the step to support yourself, it can be stressful to carry this sort of friendship around.

    • Thank you, Kylie.

      I feel you on not having your life phase parallel with your friend’s – I was a very young mother, and didn’t have anyone around who was in that parent stage at that time, including my former best friend, who had her kids over a decade later. Nothing seemed to have been a deterrent for our friendship until recent years.

      I think her finally having confidence through societal status and validation, which she worked hard to get and so was proud to have achieved, changed her. And my acceptance of myself, how I never followed the herd because they seemed to often be a confused mass, and what I’ve always felt was intuitively the right path, grew, and changed me.

      Our relationship could work if I didn’t change – I could allow her to continue always being “right.” I had contemplated that option. After all, isn’t there sacrifice, forgiveness, understanding in love?

      But it came down to this: What would I want to teach my children were they in this situation? The virtues of self-sacrifice to something they felt was neither was right nor nurturing for their spirit, or that of standing for the principle and living a life honoring their core values?

      It was easy after that.

  3. It’s definitely not a waste, it’s a sunk cost. But boy, consider yourself very blessed (and I’m sure you do) to have even such a friend that you were so proud of to be a part of your life. Some people, actually myself, would really love to have such a friend.

    I definitely agree about honouring your core values. It’s really important to be your authentic self and to never compromise it for anyone.

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Jeremy. Yes, for many, many years, I felt fortunate to have had such a friendship, and I made it known all the time to her. I think towards the end, because I helped her through some very difficult things, she expressed her gratitude for me, as well. But those things changed her, and it made me reflect on my values. Everyone must decide what their core value system is, and for me, as much as relationships are important, certain principles are more. Without a firm stance on a positive set of principles, we can lose ourselves, and we can’t be really happy nor good for any relationship we’re in.

      All my best on developing good, strong friendships. I will have to say that if you had to be in either a toxic one or be alone, stay solo, for negative is less than zero (basic math). That said, the world is a big place with many wonderful people – get out there, seek to grow, and be authentic, and you’ll find the right people to make meaningful connections with!

      • Yes, I’m pretty much solo! This might be weird, but sometimes I envy girls in the sense that they seem to be able to develop stronger friendship bonds than guys do.

        I like what you say in the last sentence. Love it!

      • I think that the kind of bonds that girls have are expressed differently from those that guys have, mainly, lots of open communication. If you are a very verbally communicative guy, there are others like you! And girls will love you, haha! From my experience, though, aside from a few close girlfriends, I grew up gelling better with guy friends, because there wasn’t drama – pretty straightforward, which I like. 🙂

  4. Pingback: “To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide) | Diary of Being Frank: A Crass Course in Living Authentically

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