Guest Post: Of Friendship Lost

Published: September 20, 2010 | Last Updated: September 20, 2010 By | 16 Replies Continue Reading

By Emily L. Hauser


I have this friend. "Had" this friend, I suppose. I haven’t heard from her in over two years.


I had this friend. She was, by many measures, the best friend I’d ever had.


We’d literally been to the wars together: the first Gulf War in Tel Aviv, as well as various bits and bobs of terrorist attacks on our cities and bus lines, and random Israeli provocations and/or responses to same.


She started out as my boss, but before long, I was sneaking up behind her to pick her up and haul her around, just because it cracked me up. One night we slept in the same bed, a brief respite in a terrible night battling through a horrific project with an insane deadline for a bigger boss so insane that she couldn’t be told that the deadline was insane.


One day, my friend loaned me her car, and I dropped the keys down a storm drain (and fished them out with a wire hanger). One night, I helped her with a big errand, and she locked me out of my house (and waited until help arrived). We fell in and out of love with various men, went on weekend trips, got the hell on each others’ nerves, had in-jokes and catch phrases and nods of the head and winks of the eye. She saw me – all of me, every last bit of me – for who I am and what I am and she loved me and listened to me and heard every single word I said.


After some time, she left Tel Aviv for New York, to be with the man she loved and work in the field she belonged in. Eventually the first fell apart, but the second remained, because she is very good at what she does. Sending her into the West was like ripping off a limb and mailing it across the ocean.


In the fullness of time, however, I also moved to America – to Chicago. We both became mothers, we both advocated for social justice and peace in the Middle East, we both worked too much and never got it all done. Long phone calls, emotional emails, the occasional visit – all went back and forth across the continent, and whenever too much time had passed without any of these, one of us would call, contrite and sorry. There were some things that I could only ever discuss with two people on earth: Her, and my husband.


And then she disappeared.


Two years ago, my friend dropped off the edge of the earth, for reasons that I genuinely cannot begin to imagine. After months of leaving increasingly sad messages on a variety of voice mails, I finally called her place of employ to determine that she was alive and employed, then the one person we both know in New York to determine that she wasn’t in the midst of something horribly wrong, and – I stopped.


I don’t know why she went away. I have (believe me) poured over those last few emails to see if maybe, just maybe, I’d said the one thing that could destroy a friendship of that length and intensity. I have puzzled and pondered and tried to imagine every logical explanation – but none are actually logical. And I have tried to let her go.


But I haven’t. Not really. I miss her everyday, and often cry over the loss. I don’t know why she went, or where, and I feel fairly certain that I never will.


Nothing I have ever gleaned from my society’s teachings about love and loss and loyalty and friendship has ever provided me with anything to help me. There are no sympathy cards, no "so you were dumped by your best friend" books, no easy way even to tell people that something has been lost and my heart aches.


If I mention the beloved man who died this spring, people know what to say. If I mention illness or trouble within my family, people know what to say.


Back when I would break up with boyfriends, people knew what to say almost before I’d gotten the words out – offers of hugs, or drunken bacchanals, or Kleenex, or hope, or wisdom, or more hugs, in a constant, steady stream.


But this? Hardly anyone knows, and surely no one knows what to say or how to help. My friend left, and I don’t know why. And my heart still aches. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I hope she sees this someday.



Emily L. Hauser has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years, covering a broad range of topics — from war in the Middle East to technology in America. She blogs regularly about politics, foreign policy, family, loud music, and whatever else might cross her mind at Emily L. Hauser – In My Head. You can follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My daughter went through this about the same age you are….It hurts and it’s ok to be sad. Friends change over the years and it’s nothing you did. She will always be your first best friend and you shared a lot together. You have to hang on to the good memories and wish her the best. It’s good that you have already met a new friend. Try to get busy with some other activities and try to keep busy:) When this happened to my daughter she was sad but about 10 years out of High School they have reconnected and talk now and then. They both remembered what great friends they were but they just had different interest….they didn’t fight or hate each other and they said Hi now and then but they didn’t have the closeness they once had. The friend I am talking about use to camp at our house she was one of my own as well. She went everywhere with us and when she wasn’t around anymore it was sad for us as well but she was doing her thing and there isn’t much we could do about it….She tells me now we were her second home….:) So who knows maybe your friend will come back around later….meanwhile you take care of yourself and have as much fun as you can!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m olnly 16 and i can relate to that too! she was my first best friend ever. we met in kindergarten and we literaly grew up together! we were together all the time, we had sleepovers in eachother houses, we used to call each other on christmas to talk about all the presents we had recieved and even our parents shared presents and our mothers used to talk and everything but then on eighth grade we stopped having classes together and i would try and be with her after and between school time and she would say she had other people to be with and make excuses and started to have other best friends instead of me.Of course i got very hurt and felt dumped and very very sad becouse she was like my sister and i felt that i couldn’t talk to her the same way or hugh her whenever i needed to and i stopped trying to spend time with her becouse after a year of her not carrying about me my friends started to tell me i was making a full out of me and that she didn’t deserved that. I tried to get over our friendship and forget all the laughs and the birthdays and the secrets and everything that could possibly remind me of her but i couldn’t. I still cry sometimes when something remembers me of her and i still have to see her almost every day at school and of course i have a new best friend and she is awesome but i will never have that same relationship that i had during 8 years with my first best friend. I never told her that but as Emily L. Hauser said, i wish she read this and knew that it hurts to know that she’s never gonna be my best friend again.:(

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so excited for you. Your post made my day!! I had a friendship end 16 years ago due to communication issues. I reached out to my friend a month ago and she said she couldn’t go back there. It was hard to hear but it felt right to reach out. She said she valued the friendship then but she has moved on with her life. I told my sister that the friendship is dead and over and my sister said oh no it’s not you will hear from her again, it’s the circle of life. I also kept track of my friend. I thought I was nuts for not getting over it and letting go. It was strange when we did email she did say I thought of you on your Birthday….so she hasn’t let go either. My friend was in an abusive relationship and I made it clear she didn’t deserve to be treated badly. She wasn’t going to leave the relationship and she seems happy now so hopefully they have worked things out. We were friends for 20 years. I have apologized for any wrong doing on my part and let her know I still care, and that I respect her decision. I hope your able to reconnect and find that joy that has been missing. I truly understand how you felt.

  4. Lisa says:

    I lost a friend as the result of a lie. My friend was told I didn’t keep a very important secret and assumed it was the reason that other people found out about it. It wasn’t true, but she called me angry, told me off and told me never to speak to her again. I never did figure out how my name got involved in the drama. She was the only person who knew my heart and my spirit. We were each other’s support. We were always available for hugs, shared each other’s tears, joys, heartbreaks, fears and anger. My life broke, and my heart was never complete after that. For 23 years, I secretly kept track of her through other friends. I knew where she was and generally how she was doing, all the while heartbroken and confused. Just recently she contacted me on facebook. We’ve been talking for a bout a month. She says now, 23 years later, that she really doesn’t remember the incident that broke the friendship. She is coming to visit for 4 days this week. My heart is full again and neither one of us can stop crying! There is hope sometimes…people who love us do sometimes come back around later, and if we are lucky, they love us still.

  5. Shasta says:

    I really like this perspective and I’m working towards this – thanks for your reply!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I may not understand fully your situation but I do understand that we have relationships in our lives at one time that are great and work for us only to find out later that it has changed. Things change and people change as well as ourselves. His wife probably doesn’t know where she fits and wants to make sure you know that she is the one in his life now. You deserve to be around people who make you feel good and that don’t leave you feeling confused and sad. You and your friend had your time and it would of been nice if he would of handled this maturely but he didn’t. I would appreciate the time you guys were in each others life and wish him the best. He was a part of your past , who knows he might come back around at a later day more grown up. I know it still hurts and probably will for quite a while but don’t give it any more your energy. Spend that energy on things that are going on in your life now and with people who make you feel good.

  7. Shasta says:

    I had a friend who I was very close to. He was a former friend with benefits, but that part of our relationship had ended about three years previously (we both moved on).

    He got a girlfriend (now wife) who decided that I was a threat to her – on a visit to our house, she encouraged him to behave sexually towards her, kept on making comments about their sex life, she slapped me on the ass twice and she talked down to me.

    Long story short, he accused me of being a prude, of being “not a real friend”, of trying to ‘come between them’. I was horrified.

    I’ve never spoken to him again – he made several overtures, but I didn’t respond. I was so terribly hurt that he would think and accuse me of such awful motivations that I just didn’t want to see him again. It was like he turned into a different person who saw me as a horrible, nasty person. Before this, I thought we both wanted the best for each other – I had found the man I wanted to spend my life with; I wanted him to find someone who he wanted to spend his life with.

    I suppose I could blame his wife for all of this, but that wouldn’t be fair. *He* chose to believe those things of me – I didn’t feel that I could stand to be around someone who thought so little of me. I didn’t want to spend my time with him fending off accusations that I was selfish and stupid enough to not want him to be happy with someone who he felt he could spend his life with.

    But it hurts. Oh, does it hurt. He was one of my dearest friends, or so I thought. Maybe he wasn’t ever my friend at all.

  8. Wow, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to check if there were comments on this post, but I didn’t until just now!

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, and for sharing your own stories. The one person with whom we both have any level of contact is the person that I mentioned in my essay, and I actually asked him not to tell her that I’d called.

    I can’t help but believe that whatever her reasons are — she has them. And they’re her’s. She knows where I am and that I love her — if she ever feels up to finding me again, I’ll be here. I can’t make that choice for her.

    And thanks again to Dr. Levine for letting me post here! I’m very, very grateful.

  9. Kathy says:

    I had a simular thing happen with me and my friend of 20 years except I knew where she was but she would only give me silence. She was going through a rough time in her life and about the last few months we couldn’t talk without her being mad and talking to me like I’ve never been talked to before by her. I got upset and said things I shouldn’t of and our friendship ended, but I wasn’t sure if it really did or not because she really didn’t say much just silence. After that I tried to reach out to her for 16 years and I only got anger from her, return to sender cards and letters and when I called I got strange comments so I would hang up. The hard part was not know what was wrong. I mean if the friendship needed to end she would of said so before. So something did happen that she couldn’t talk to me about. I decided to facebook her a few weeks ago and I finally got a message back and she sounded normal again. Our friendship is done because she said she just can’t go back there. It was a dark time in her life. I am saddened by the fact that we couldn’t work things out but she said she really valued the friendship at one time. So what ever happened it’s over now but just getting some kind of closure makes it a lot easier to deal with. So I do believe she had something really bad happen or a mental breakdown. It’s hard being shut out and not knowing why so I feel blessed that I know she is ok now even though I lost a friend that I loved dearly.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I had a friend who disappeared on me — by becoming a different person. She came down with schizo-affecting disorder in our late twenties — and just kind of shut down. She had been the most lively, bright, outgoing person and became almost catotonic.

    I’m just wondering if your friend may have come down with some kind of mental illness that’s put her in a crisis. This happens also when people get divorced — they really don’t want to share something that’s so painful right now.

    I’ve lost a few best friends over the years — because one or the other of us changed so radically the “mirroring” effect was gone. I wouldn’t take this personally — I’d make the odd inquiry however you can. My guess is that she’s going through something very tough and can’t face you right now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That is so lousy.

  12. Irene says:

    That is a great suggestion to see if a common friend or acquaintance can put Emily in touch with her lost friend. Thanks for posting.


  13. Anonymous says:

    A sad story. I am so sorry for your loss. Have you considered getting her in person to have a talk? I have a similar situation. I dont understand how friends can do this.It is shattering, I feel the same way as you about my friend.

  14. Janus Daniels says:

    If I had anyone who could intercede, I’d use that.
    She may have something that she feels so ashamed of that…??

  15. Beth says:

    I’ve had this happen, actually am living through it right now with a friend that is “too busy”. It really hurts, and the not knowing is lousy. There have been a few times where a to be former friend did tell me why – and it also hurt. The reasons are seemingly so petty (a jealous friend or relative, not being one of the “in” crowd even as an adult, etc.) that I’ve come to believe that there isn’t a good reason except for loss of chemistry like in a romance. 10 year, 15 year friendships ended without a good bye, and even weirder when you happen to see them occasionally around town and pretend that they are just an acquaintance. It has taught me to take time to develop and keep up with more than a current BFF so that if this happens it isn’t as horrible to live through.

  16. Serene says:

    I think more people will understand as we talk about this. Friendship is a deep love, and really, I think harder to find than deep romantic love. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t grieved over a lost friendship; we just don’t, as you say, have language for it in our culture. Thank you for this post; I think it’s a good way to open up the dialogue.

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