Friday, September 21, 2012

Somebody I Used to Know

You know when you're supposed to be working, but instead you jump onto Facebook to look up an old friend that a song just reminded you of? I hate it when that happens.

Sometimes I still miss her.


Perhaps focusing on the good and not allowing the sour end to ruin what is worth holding onto will result in some sort of closure, for I surely got none from her. Perhaps this exploration of a relationship I no longer have will allow me to let it go. Separating the person from the experience, something I think many people can relate to regardless of the nature of the relationship. It may have taken years, but if I was finally able to let go of my first heartbreak and realize that who he was to me has nothing to do with who he really is, then maybe I can do the same with her.

This is where it started, in a post a month or so ago called Bubbles.


Out of the heartaches I’ve had in my life, the greatest heartbreak has not come wrapped up in a boy, but in the hands of my best friend from childhood. It wasn’t something I ever saw coming, nor did I have any idea how to handle it when it fell in my lap. Back then I believed there were some relationships that were immune to distance and time. Back then, I believed in soul mates and thought I’d found two of mine. 

It’s like waking up from a really realistic dream. When you first come out of it, your eyes slowly start to take in the real details of the room, while your mind is still stuck in the folds of another place. The more time that passes, the less sense the dream makes and the easier it is to join the waking world. Sometimes a dream can stay with you much longer than the typical minute or two; it clings to the back of your mind tripping emotional responses, pretending to be real. But eventually you have to step completely out of the dream, accept it for what it was, a lovely but temporary time, and leave it behind you. That’s how I had to walk away from the friendship I had with her.

Nobody seems to write about the heartbreak a friend can cause, or at least, there don’t seem to be as many of those stories filling the shelves like romantic heartache does. But there's more than one way to get your heart broken.

I've been reminded a lot lately of someone from my past life. It was that song, that Gotye song, Somebody That I Used to Know. The first time I heard it I immediately thought of her. Of course after listening to the words a hundred more times since it’s clear it isn’t the words that parallel our story but the overall feeling of the song, the feeling of allowing what was once was so centrally important to become simply another passing roadside attraction along the way. My friendship with her was the most important relationship in my life for many years, and one I believed would always be there. Now I know better, sadly, and as it turns out, ours was just another chapter, a moment in my life that had an expiration date. I used to be a different person - didn't we all - and some days it's hard to believe just how much I’ve changed. I've found myself wondering more than once if my depression had something to do with the end of our friendship. Was I so focused on myself that I missed something she was struggling with? When I catch myself singing a song we used to giggle through, changing the words to suit our mood, or referring to the moon as Melvin, I'm snagged by a memory that used to make me smile. Now that smile is more of an inward sigh.

She was beautiful and funny and popular, and somehow we became friends. At twelve years old, it turned out we were the weirdest girls either of us knew. We made up silly nicknames for things like the moon and the gigantic owl that once saved us from a rabid moth at the cabin. During the hour bus ride to school each morning we played round after round of who could make the other laugh hard enough to snort or fart until our stomachs ached. She was the only person who saw exactly the same thing I did in a crowd and mirrored my laughter. It’s still a little painful to remember the details of our friendship, but I wish it weren’t. I wish I could look back on those years and enjoy them rather than hurt from them. I wish I could detach her from our ending so I could appreciate what came before. Maybe I can, if I take away her title of former best friend, my most difficult heartbreak, and think of her merely as somebody I used to know.

Maybe this is how I can choose to remember things. Just like I found the power to decide to live in a way that accentuates the positive, perhaps I can rewrite the past to highlight the positive, and deal with and let go of the negative. That way, I can keep the best of every experience and learn from the bad parts, focus on the positive and put that energy into the world. When the experience is separate from the person, I think we can let the person go because the relationship has already been gone for a long time. When the person loses their importance, they lose whatever negative influence we allow them. 

It’s funny, I bet most people have no idea how powerful the thought of them is to someone else.

This is an experiment of separating the person from the experience, and maybe going through this exercise will bring me some clarity. When the world that was our friendship first began to crumble, someone asked me what made her so wonderful, so worth the hurt I was feeling, and worse than the question was the time it took me to answer it. That’s when I started to realize what a loyalist I am and how significant the length of a relationship is to me, meaning, the longer you’ve been around, the harder it’ll be for me to let you go. We had fifteen years of boy drama, tears, laughter, love and growth between us when the bottom dropped out for me without explanation, and never knowing what happened has been the most difficult part. But this isn’t a search for answers, it’s a mining expedition to keep the good and let go of the bad.

There was this girl I used to know...


  1. How heartbreaking. I can't imagine the torment if I lost my best friend of twenty years. It's true, the longer someone has been in your life, the harder it is to let them go - especially if they've played a part in shaping who you've become.
    I know nothing I can say can diminish your loss, so all I'll leave you with is good wishes, a virtual hug, and an acknowledgement of the significance of your loss. :(

    1. Thanks, Natalie, I will accept that hug! And it's nice to finally put this out there and not feel like such a freak for how it affected me.

  2. Linz, you are not a freak and need not feel like one for any reason (unless you wanna take a moment to just roll around and revel in your ULF, your Unique Linz Freak. Then it's ok). Heartbreak happens (is there a t-shirt for this?) to everyone and it happens over and over if you are lucky enough to have a long, long, love and adventure filled lifetime. It's not easy to accept but the truth is: sometimes it is the price of the relationship and a bargain at that.

    Keep the good thoughts. :-)