It Took A ‘Friendsgiving’ Dinner to Make Me Realize I’m Still Affected By the Friends Who Dumped Me

I know some asshole who didn’t have a heart said “time heals all wounds,” and “you’ll get over it eventually,” and “you’ll meet someone new,” but it’s been over three years and I am still affected by the friends who dumped me. Time has not soothed an aching heart, and that wound is looking a lot more like a gaping hole than it did previously.

You know when you’re in shock and your body goes into a fight or flight state, that was basically me for the past three years. I was in acute stress response, due, primarily, to the presence of a terrifying situation i.e., the ending of a friendship, that released too many hormones into my system, causing me to, at first, try to deal with the situation head-on, to eventually opt for running away to safety. 

“The fear was palpable and real and I realized that the way my friendship ended in college was so abrupt, that it actually broke my heart.”

I realized this the other night when I decided to have some friends over for an impromptu and not entirely accurate depiction of “Friendsgiving,” when, as the dinner ended, I found myself being overly concerned about what I was saying and how I was acting. I started drawing within myself, criticizing my responses, and being overly cautious to share my opinion out of fear of hurting, offending, and being insensitive to anyone. In a moment I started wondering whether or not to open up more of myself or to let down my guard to allow these new people into my life in the way that I had done previously with other friends, and honestly the anxiety was crippling. So much so, that when everyone started to leave, I couldn’t get up from my chair the anxiety was that heavy.

When everyone finally left, and Morgan and I were alone, I started bawling. The fear was palpable and real and I realized that the way my friendship ended in college was so abrupt, that it actually broke my heart. More importantly, when thinking about it, the fear that crippled me was being dumped again, on a group that I genuinely loved and cared for, without notice.

As easy as it is to play the victim, I know part of the reason for it ending was my own inability to allow them into my life in the way that they wanted and thought they had. I had my own guards, fears, protections, and aspects of my personality that I didn’t share out of fear of being rejected, and they had their own expectations of a relationship they had never expressed, but it never occurred to me by holding myself back, held me back from actually creating a deeper friendship. As I sat there, with a new group of friends, I was aware of all of those fears and insecurities that crippled my previous friendship, and the fear of being rejected became all too real. Time hasn’t healed all wounds. In fact, it hasn’t really healed anything at all, I just assumed it had. 

I know that over the course of friendships in my life I will probably revisit this feeling in a different way because it affected me so much, but I also know that I can always keep learning.

Over the course of the past few years, I have had several moments of forgiving myself and them, and have talked about it with several people including a therapist, while seemingly going through the motions of grieving the loss and accepting the situation, assuming all had been healed, until recently. 

Last night, after everyone had let, I pulled out a drama card and cried. I cried because I needed to actually mourn the loss of those friendships and flopped into my bed feeling absolutely horrible. In the morning my eyes were puffy but my heart was lighter, and I woke up to a text message from my friend B. I got a call from my mom, who thought she had called her doctor and laughed for a solid five minutes. I turned on Carly Rae Jepsen, scrubbed my face, buffed my skin like a shiny new human being and applied so much lotion to my skin that I slipped on the floor, only to repeat the process entirely, and laughed again, and then finally greeted myself in the mirror, naked. It sounds like a weird ritual, but honestly, it made me feel so much better.

I know none of this will fix my heart, or manifest a perfectly open self that is unafraid of being rejected by the people you love the most, or make me feel remotely whole. I know that over the course of friendships in my life I will probably revisit this feeling in a different way because it affected me so much, but I also know that I can always keep learning. I know that I can keep trying to open myself up and not allow the fear of rejection to dictate my relationships, and to continuously reach out instead of drawing within, but maybe that asshole was right. Time might be more necessary than we think—time and a Carly Rae Jepsen song consisting of eating in a bathtub, dancing like nobody’s watching, cutting your own bangs, and getting yourself off is all it takes.