After we come out of the closet, we often experience strain or breakdown in some of our friendships. Sometimes we’re not even sure exactly why these friendships are fading away. Caitlyn Spence, one of the members of our Vancouver Generous Space group, wrote about one such friendship in the hauntingly beautiful piece below. We’re grateful for her permission to share it here, and we hope it gives voice to the pain that many of us have felt, and solidarity in the midst of it, even when it remains unresolved.
To my Former Best Friend:
It’s been more than a whole season of Broad City since the last time you and I have had a conversation. Christmas and Easter have come and gone – the Savior has been born, died and risen again since the last time we spoke. You have moved to a new house, in a new neighbourhood, in which I have never been – I’ve never seen your room nor eaten at your table. I’ve made tonnes of nachos you have not tasted. Our birthdays have both passed and you were not at my party. Taylor Swift and Katy Perry have bad blood now. It’s a whole new world but I don’t share it with you.
It’s been around 7 or 8 months since we stopped speaking. I know because it was at the same time I started dating my girlfriend, whom you have never met. She’s beautiful and clever, she shares your quiet attentiveness and your easy-going, problem-solving nature, which I always admired in you and I love in her. She handles my audacity and my obnoxiousness with grace and patience, she makes room for me in her life and welcomes me warmly. I wish you could meet her.
I have seen you since the winter: at parties, at dinners. I have shared a table with you among our friends at bars and restaurants. I have told stories at these tables in a loud, enthused voice – straining with every part of me to project my stories and my life all the way to the furthest part of the table where you sit, quietly studying your nails and drink. At a table full of people listening to my stories, laughing at my jokes, I have worked hard to be seen by the one person who will not look at me.
I wish I could say that I miss you but that’s not fully honest. I don’t know what I think about you now, or at least I don’t know the words to express it. I think it’s very sad and confusing that our language doesn’t have a word for the breakup of a Friendship. Almost everyone I know has grieved the end of a significant Friendship, but none of us have the vocabulary to explain it. When Plato was naming platonic love after himself he was maybe too optimistic to think of also naming the platonic grief that a friendship breakup entails.
Authors throughout history have written poems and odes to romance, few have devoted themselves to penning the importance of Friendship. Those who have, however, have written about it in such flourishing prose it eclipses most of the romances I’ve read. C.S Lewis wrote that friendship was the most important and life-sustaining love we can experience, as romantic love is partially driven by sexual intimacy and the need to reproduce and Friendship is absent of a biological agenda. Plato’s Symposiums speaks of Priestess Diotema who preaches that, without the love we feel for our friends, we are unable to comprehend the Divine.
And yet for all my literary name-dropping, I have no words to explain how I feel about you now. I hate you and I miss you; I resent you and I yearn for closeness with you; I am furious with you and I am still waiting for the day you show up on my couch with beer. You are still the person I began the process of Coming Out to, you are still the person who threw me my 23rd, 24th and 25th birthday parties, you are still the person that held my hand against their chest while Jeff Mangum sang alone on stage in front of us in a dark theatre.
Here is what I am certain of: the gap you have left will be filled. I will meet a wonderful mosaic of strangers who will become close to me like you were close to me. The intimacy we will share and the experiences we will have will teach me beautiful, divine things.
And here is what I hope: that I will be fine with the fact that you will not be among those people; that someday we will both be content with being strangers.