By the time my birthday rolled around, not only did I not receive the bands I had coveted, but also, through a series of events, miscommunication, and misunderstanding, one of my tribe unceremoniously ended her friendship with me, and before my very eyes, the circle, as I knew it, was broken. At first it seemed inexplicable, but I was suddenly cast aside by some of these friends with the routine antics straight out of a petty high school playbook. Before this happened, we always agreed we would speak the hard truth to each other in the spirit of being open and honest. I got a hefty dose that left me bewildered. And then there was silence. What was once open was now closed, hiding and avoiding resolution. No more sleepovers, just sleepless nights trying to pick up the pieces. The bonds of friendship we'd spent years developing were gone in what seemed like a flash. I cried until I wanted to vomit pain. It was worse than any breakup with a lover, because in some strange way I was breaking up with myself, saying good-bye to a version of myself that was so desperate to belong and define myself through others' views of me, instead of through my own resolve.
I experienced some of the darkest and hardest moments of my life, feeling worthless, empty, with nothing left to give, even to my husband. It was a sense of loss I had never felt. I recall a night in bed staring at the ceiling, my husband at my side, trying to help me make sense of it all, and I suddenly recognized a deep-seeded pattern. I relied on other people to feel good about myself. The harsh truth was crystal clear: I did not believe in myself enough to be truly authentic in my relationship s with these women. My dethroning in high school had victimized me and now this was s different version of a dethroning but with the same opportunity to heal. When my body had broken down in high school, it had been humiliation. When some of my closest friendships broke down in adulthood, it was heartbreak.
But like that fateful night on the football field, I was at my lowest point possible. I had to pick myself up and began to reconstruct my ideas of trust, fault, guilt and forgiveness. I leaned on a few notes-to-self during the healing:
"To be powerful one must go through the crucible" was one. "Have more faith than fear" was another.
I was fortunate to experience real intimacy with those friends who stuck around, and I was eventually able to forgive the ones who couldn't seem to move beyond honest mistakes, and most important forgave myself for my part in our demise. I was not without fault, but I needed to let myself off the hook at some point. This time my friends couldn't do it for me, I had to do it for myself. Through the heartbreak, I learned how to recommit myself, to love myself and stand on my own. Afterward, that confidence radiated in all of my other relationships, and I was more authentic with everyone, including my husband and family, and I began to see how I had truly been ignoring a part of me for years. I often see the rings on the fingers of the friends who received them, and I am no longer hurt, but my heart has been fortified with self-reliance: "I am the source of love and security."