Christmas: it’s right around the corner.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and I love my family even more. I truly enjoy shopping for their gifts, wrapping them with care and seeing their happiness and excitement as they open gifts on Christmas morning. I love feeling near to them, sitting around the table laughing and sharing stories with wine pouring and food in adundance. It’s a happy, joyous time and yet it makes me incredibly sad.
Ever since my breakup, I hate being around couples… including my own family. At my Grandma’s birthday party in the summer, I stood out like a sore thumb. Not only was I going through a lot emotionally, but I had lost the spark of myself. I hung out along the periphery, weaving in to talk to cousins and aunts for a moment only to weave back out and sit on my own. I didn’t eat because I was so anxious around my own family that I was afraid I’d throw up. The occasion reminded me of how sad I was, how alone I felt. Even though I’m very happy with my life right now, it made me miss having someone special in my life. It was magnified again at Thanksgiving, and I know Christmas will be doubly tough. It will be the first Christmas without him.
I know I’m not alone in my post-split avoidance of couples, partially because I’ve been the friend in a happy relationship wondering where my newly single friend is hiding out. We all do it – we keep to ourselves because we don’t want the reminder that our relationship just went down the drain. But, it’s not a one way street. A lot of my coupled-up friends were unavailable or unwilling (I’m not able to say which) to help me through that time. Some had a lot going on in their own lives, but some of them didn’t. They just checked out, and they might be surprised to learn that I have the lock on my door now.
When we’re in a happy relationship, do we avoid our friends who are coping with a breakup because we’re afraid of catching the “break up bug”? FYI, it’s not contagious. While your friend might be miserable and devastated at her own relationship coming to an end, she almost definitely doesn’t want to see yours crumble too. If she does, you need a new friend. But if you’re ignoring her because you don’t want to deal with her pain, she needs a new friend.
The hurt of losing your relationhip is magnified by the friend who is blissfully in love, finding excuses to pull her significant other into conversations over coffee (“Dan hates pumpkin spice lattes, how cute is that?” *puke*). In the back of your mind, you hope your friend is being lovesick and completely unaware that the mention is a mini-stab to your broken heart. If she’s not, you really need to find a new friend. Tell her how you feel, or avoid more hurt feelings and try to change the subject.
To all of the friends I avoided: I’m sorry I couldn’t be happy for you while I was feeling sorry for myself. To my best friend: the person I couldn’t be a friend to because I was too wrapped up in my own sadness to realize that you were having a hard time coping with stress in your life: I’m really, really sorry. I love you, and I hope we never come to that again.
To all of the friends who were coping with a breakup while I was falling in love, I’m sorry that I was the girl who couldn’t discuss tampons without bringing my new love interest in the conversation. I know I’ve done it, and I know now how much it hurts. I’m more sorry than you’ll ever know. I would also love to shoot tampons at all the guys who’ve broken our hearts in the past, so call me with your availability for that. I’ll bring the wine.
To the “friends” who have walked out of my life when I most needed them and waltzed back in when it was convenient: I hope you never experience that kind of cruelty, even if it’s no more than you deserve. Friendship isn’t about getting together when the sun is shining: it’s about making fun of how terrible you both look when your hair is plastered to your face in the rain and snow, while wearing Santa Claus hats and singing Chipmunks songs.
Oh, and forgiving one another for those “nights that don’t exist”.