Here’s what happened — from my side of the story; plus what I learned, too.
At the beginning of this year, I went through a really bad, uh… Break-up, we’ll call it.
It one of the most difficult relationship transitions that I’ve had in my entire adult life.
Worse than a break-up, actually.
Although that’s what it felt like at the time.
My best friend and I stopped talking. We stopped everything, actually. Our relationship, it seemed, had run its course.
Yes, you probably know who I’m talking about: Jess — bow & sequins — my best friend, partner in crime and Emergency Contact Person.
(Note: Jess and I both wrote these posts today from our own perspectives, but we did not read one another’s before publishing — you can and should read her post here.)
Here’s my story:
I’ll back-track very briefly:
If you didn’t know, Jess and I met through blogging (seven or so years ago). I remember meeting her at a Baker’s Shoes* event in Chicago; back then, the industry was still very small — especially in Chicago. I’d known who she was through Twitter prior to that, though, because I’m a Grade A Champion Creep.
(*Remember Baker’s Shoes? Lollll…)
We ended up grabbing drinks after the event with some other people, but I’m fairly certain neither of us spoke to anyone else at the table. It was very Lady & the Tramp — but with cocktails and not spaghetti. Or kissing.
I remember feeling elated that I’d met this cool ass chick who — instantly — I had so much in common with; everything from style blogging to a love of college football and a hatred of men wearing sandals.
(See what I mean by a “break-up?”)
Almost instantly, we were pretty inseparable. We often joked that we were life partners — and still do.
In our years of memory-making, belly laughs, boyfriends, little fights and big life changes, Jess and I never fought.
(Like, really fought.)
Fast-forward to this past winter:
Suddenly, it seemed, we’d started arguing — almost regularly. Sure, disagreements are common among friends, but this felt different.
It eventually escalated until we reached a point where we questioned whether or not we were growing apart.
And that was scary.
As a result, I think, we started arguing even more. Bigger, personal arguments. And this became more frequent by the week (near the very end of last year).
We’d talk like sisters and fight like brothers.
Of course, this happens with people you’re close to, but we couldn’t figure out why or how to make it stop — for good. It just seemed to keep happening. And the scale of it grew larger with time.
What the fuck was happening? How was this happening?
We both wondered the same thing for a long time.
We’d address it, eventually, and things seem to “fix” themselves, but then they’d happen again.
Looking back, I realize that our “fixes” were kinda like putting a band-aid over a bullet wound, so-to-speak. (That’s a rather graphic metaphor, but hopefully it helps paint a picture.)
This was the part that was hard for me (and her, I’m sure) to share.
I’ll never forget the time (early evening), day (Sunday) and place (down to the bar stools) that we were sitting next when it happened.
All of a sudden, everything just kinda… Exploded. Came to the surface. Spilled out.
We had our first big blow-out fight. In public.
We both yelled — ultimately, I think, out of frustration over the incapability of understanding what had happened between us and communicating how we were feeling to each other (and why).
I told her I didn’t want to talk to her for awhile.
She told me she’d been feeling the same way.
That night, when we got to the point where there was nothing left to say, we half-hugged one another and left — and that was the first time I’d ever said goodbye to Jessica without knowing for certain in my heart-of-hearts that everything would be okay.
Above all else, I was (we were) heartbroken.
Ultimately, our “decision” was mutual. Neither of us did anything wrong. But we didn’t speak, text, Instagram tag or even run into one another for six weeks — at least.
I’d go through phases where I felt angry, upset and guilty. I was confused. Numb. I didn’t know what the fuck to feel.
I felt lost.
And as it turns out, I think I was.
I should stop for a moment and clarify:
Right now, Jess and I are fine. We’re fuckin’ great, actually. (See what I mean by “life partner,” now? Haha.)
I don’t want to say that we’re back to our old ways — because we’re not, and that’s a good thing.
When Jess and I stopped talking (which went on for two months), I was not myself. I think I was depressed — and I think she may have been, too.
This was amplified by the fact that we were both going through some personal shit and we didn’t know how to be there for one another — which now, looking back, escalated our arguments into That One Night at the Bar.
For those months where we were absent from one another’s lives (and I mean absent), I distracted myself with work and partying and ultimately dispersing my attention elsewhere.
None of these are bad things, of course — we’re all human — but one day I woke up and realized that I really wasn’t getting anywhere. A lot of what I was doing wasn’t actually meaningful to me. I wasn’t filling myself back up.
You know how you fill a bathtub with water but if the drain is leaky the water drains and you start at square one? An empty fucking tub?
Kinda like that.
I love a good metaphor.
I felt like the biggest part of my identity was no longer there.
And yet, I realize now that she never really wasn’t. I thought about her every day and somewhere deep down began to believe that everything we would be okay — I just didn’t know how long it would take. Or how much time would have to pass for that to happen. Or what “okay” would look like.
I later learned that she was on the same page.
And then there were days we’d fight — again. Were we back to square one? Fuck!
I went back-and-forth blaming myself and blaming her — an attempt at finding anything concrete to make sense of the fact that a rift was created between us make. I was grappling for an explanation.
The truth is, we all get a little lost.
I continued to focus on work (which backfired, but that’s life).
So, I slowly began to re-focus.
I started DJ’ing — a hobby I only used to dream about. (I did this because I was DJ’ing another best friend’s wedding, but the timing and situational aspect pushed me into it on a very deep scale.) Often times it’d be 4 a.m. before I realized that I’d been up all night on my turn-tables.
Nearly every day, I’d get an urge to text her or something would happen that only she would find funny, so I’d write it down.
I still have that list.
After awhile, I felt fine. Great, even.
I felt guilty about realizing I didn’t need her.
(Now, I realize, it’s okay — healthy, even — not to need someone; because when they’re in your life it’s by choice. You want them there and it’s an active choice you work to maintain.)
Once I got over my guilt, I realized that all I was feeling is a capability of honoring space — both my own and someone else’s. I kinda liked my space. But I really liked it better when she was a part of it.
But yes, I still felt guilty about this. What if she needed me? What if I was abandoning her? Or worst of all — what if she was, like, a million miles ahead of me and didn’t even think about me anymore?
Over the course of those few months where we weren’t the Jess & Hallie that you know us as, we had a few “big talks.” We exchanged a few e-mails. We’d talk openly on how much it fucking sucked that our friendship was changing — had changed — and we’d end our conversations with tear-stained pajamas shirts and an empty bottle of wine.
While we both knew that we were on separate paths, we always, always remained on the same page: Hopeful and desperate to know when those paths would converge again.
But we didn’t push it.
We waited — she took her space, worked through her personal life, explored new things and made new friends. I did the same.
And personally speaking: Thank God. Had I not done that, I don’t think I’d be able to show up for her as the friend I am to her now (and the friend she’s always known me to be).
During our months of separation, here’s some things you might not know that made this transition a lot harder:
- At the time, Jess and I both frequented SoulCycle — I was teaching and she was riding (most of the time in my classes).
- We have the same job and are typically invited to the same events (or asked by brands to collaborate with one another specifically).
- We have many of the same friends.
- You guys all pretty much know how inseparable we were (are).
- We live in the same building. The. Same. Building.
So, yeah. It really fucking sucked.
Do I wish it wouldn’t have happened? Of course. I mean, who really likes to fight with someone — let alone someone whom they identify as their Emergency Contact?
(Like it or not, that’s still you, babe. LOL!)
Am I ultimately grateful that it did?
I really am.
Because now, my Best Friend and I have a rock-solid relationship despite a handful of life’s curveballs.
I learned a lot from the time I didn’t have Jess in my life.
Among Other Things, I realized that I can be an incredibly sensitive person. I can get lost in my own thoughts and opinions and become unable to see beyond my own assumptions (something it took me awhile to admit to myself — and to you).
I learned that it’s important to show up for the people you love — especially when they don’t ask you to.
I learned that I’m not always great at managing my energy. SoulCycle took a lot of it (not in a bad way), but often times I’d be so emotionally drained that — as she rightfully pointed out to me — I didn’t have much to give to her as a best friend.
I’m working on it.
(We’re all a work in progress, aren’t we?)
I’ve gotten better at listening (without interrupting), answering (without arguing), promising (without forgetting), and quite simply, compromising.
I’m still working on that.
I learned that there’s magic in the chaos — because that magic is coming from something real. But there’s also a sense of sacred in the ordinary — the special things and people that become familiar. They’re like puzzle pieces that converge to make up your life.
Both Jess and I embraced the uncertainty and eventually allowed it to lead us forward. (Thankfully, that was to the same place.) It was like we created our own paths to happiness that — thankfully — ended up going to the same place.
And that’s an awesome thing, because again: When you finally find that you’re on the same path as someone, you know deep down it’s because you want the there — not because you need them there.
Life is a long (if we’re lucky), winding and non-linear journey. To expect otherwise is just foolish. And you must be true to yourself before you can be true to anyone else — friendship and otherwise.
If you’ve never been in a friendship rut, I hate to tell you that it’s likely inevitable. But you’re going to be okay — both of you. Regardless of the outcome.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind if (or when) you’re going through it:
It’s okay to allow yourself to be a human — to love, to feel, to hurt and to heal. It’s natural that we lose ourselves every once in awhile — you can’t be found if you’ve never been lost, I suppose.
It hurts because it matters.
Plain and simple. After all, you get in the biggest fights with the people you care most about — because those are the relationships worth fighting for.
Re-focusing on you won’t push someone else away (that’s meant to be there).
It’s your life, honey. Live it. But really live it.
Let yourself go through it.
Friendships change. People change. And sometimes you have to step painfully far outside of your comfort zone in order to never find your way back.
No relationship is perfect — friendship and otherwise. You just have to figure out who’s worth fighting for.
Like I said, Jess and I did not read one another’s posts before we published them. But we both laughed about the fact that we felt like “estranged lovers who went through a divorce and are now back together again.”
If you’re going through — or have endured — something similar, I hope you, too, can find your way out of it.
Eventually, you always do.Just keep going.
And because you know I fuckin’ love a good metaphor, consider this:
The sun doesn’t stay behind the clouds forever.
I’m grateful for it all — the fights, the laughter, the tears, the drama, the secrets, the late nights and the early mornings — the latter two of which have converged into one another more often than we’ll ever admit to you all (but you’ve probably seen on Snapchat).
That’s what they are.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Never lose sight of what — and who — you love.
Jess, my francophile, minx and little Lassie, I love you. I appreciate you on so many levels that it’s hard for me to express, but lord knows I’ll try to find a way when we’re deep into our second bottle of rosé this weekend. Can’t fucking wait to see you in Paris!
And seriously, though — if anything happens to me, make sure you delete that browsing history on my laptop. And maybe all of the screenshots from my phone.
Definitely all of the screenshots from my phone, okay?
*In this post:
Iron & Honey Photography