“Don’t Fuck Your Friends…?”
I believe that friendship is our first introduction to mindblowing love, and true human connection. I have found that the value of friendship, is something that has always made it effortlessly into my top priorities. I once had a woman tell me,
“I’ve never quite experienced anything as devastatingly heartbreaking as losing a best friend, not even the loss of a lover.”
He was my best friend, and that’s what we will call him, He. Our connection was undeniable, from long nights that turned into morning, trying to survive the existential crisis that comes along with too many white drugs and partying, to eating greasy cheeseburgers in bars, or even just sitting in our living rooms watching mindless television, there was never a moment we didn’t enjoy the other ones company.
I have to say, we didn’t always share this bond. Growing up he drove me absolutely insane, we were both hard headed and opinionated creatures. I found him to be pompous, arrogant and self serving, which was a side of him I would see again much later in life.
We met again in our 20s at one of our local “townie” campouts. Over twenty kids, in the middle woods, dropping acid, taking E, and listening to EDM music, which most of us would have probably criticized heavily if our pupils weren’t the size of quarters. I popped my first molly, and so did He, and from there we talked the entire night.
We discussed past loves, ideas for our futures and exchanged the funny, yet horrifying, stories of all the mistakes we had made thus far in life. When I drove back into town that next day I wondered to myself if our friendship connection was real, or an inauthentic drug induced experience. I have to say my instincts were correct, because now two years later here I am writing about my deep love for him, reminiscing on all the beautiful things we’ve shared and done together, and how in the end, this beautiful friendship connection, destroyed my heart.
A huge part of our relationship was getting the other one through hard times, specifically his toxic relationship with his “on again off again girlfriend,” we’ll call her “Her.” The helping wasn’t one sided by any means, He was there for me through my many moments of self doubt, my parents divorce, my fear during my time in college that I would never fully accomplish my dreams, but more importantly, I could always count on him to remind me that I was loved, and that He thought the world of me.
To say we were lucky is an understatement.
I remember the peak of our platonic friendship love affair, it was summer, and every day was spent finding beer to drink and bodies of Oregon water to swim in. Although He was going through a deep spat of depression, that was induced by Her, as per usual, we rode the wave of life together and shared some of my most cherished moments. As the summer was coming to an end, I was getting ready to start my last term of college, and He had bought a one way ticket to Hawaii, to try and escape his problems at home. This decision was completely consistent with the impulsivity that is his personality, and an example of his extreme lack of emotional intelligence. I was sad to see him go, but I knew it was best for him to escape our small town for a bit, and more specifically to get some time away from Her. He left, and I kept away at school working towards graduation, but we talked every single day that he was away. He mostly talked about how the trip wasn’t doing him all that well, how his already preexisting substance abuse issues were only increasing, how Her was still deeply effecting him, and of course, how he was running out of money. I talked about my school related stress, how the peak of my parents divorce was ruining my sanity, and most often we both expressed how much we missed each other.
After a month of him being on the island, I was sitting outside at a bar with friends drinking beer and smoking menthols, my usual routine, when all of a sudden I noticed my friend grinning in my direction. Confused and thrown off, I began to look around, and when I looked behind me there He was, walking down the street towards the bar. He had decided to come home but wanted to ensure I was surprised. I imagine the moment like that cliche story, of the man in a desert suffering from dehydration… ‘This has to be a mirage,’ but it wasn’t. As I came to terms with the amazement I ran to him and we embraced with such strong emotion. But I didn’t cry, crying isn’t something we did… well, not until much later.
In the months that came after He returned, a lot of the normalities in our lives were beginning to change. He moved out of his parents home and into a house with roommates, He enrolled back in school after a two year break, and He tried to get his drinking under control. I graduated with my bachelors degree, moved back in with my divorcing parents, and worked away at completing graduate school applications, to make certain I had a sure fire way of getting out of our fucking town.
I have to say, a lot of the change that came after his return was negative, for me. I was processing the loss of the busy and fulfilled life that I had during college, to only working at my bartending job, while I also sat by and watched my parents 35 year marriage turn from crumbling, to completely ending. Although my logical self knew it would change eventually, my sense of self was also disappearing in a way, and as a result I began to drink heavily, almost every night.
He was doing okay at the time, honestly. He was getting through school, and had made a new group of friends who were just as degenerate-like as him. He wasn’t drinking every day, but we still found time to get together and partake in our usual consumptive activities. While he seemed to be doing better in other people’s eyes, I began to feel he had changed. He was no longer as engaged as he once was, it was almost as if the light in him had been turned down to the lowest setting. When we were together He was usually on his phone, or making plans to get to the next party with a heavy supply of tequila and cocaine. There would be some nights where we sat at the bar and He would be staring mindlessly at his illuminated screen. After awhile of prolonged silence I would say his name, and he would look up at me blankly, as though He had no idea that he’d been removed from our conversation for several moments. I knew that, Her, was a plausible factor this new demeanor he exuded. I didn’t push the subject though, because we didn’t talk about Her. If they ever spent time together He’d keep it from me, mostly to avoid a lecture on the stupidity of their relationship. I felt distant from him, but nevertheless, we spent time together and I loved him all the same.
So, the next phase of this affair, we will call it: “The Beginning of The End”.
One night while dancing at a local band’s show downtown, my friend and I decided it would be a remarkably intelligent idea to take xanax in the bathroom, and then continue to drink heavily for the rest of the night. I never knew I had the potential to blackout, but that night the blackout took the W, and I took a major loss. I woke up in the morning, but I wasn’t at home, I was in His bed. Some how I had managed to find him or get ahold of him, which didn’t surprise me, He was my person. Being so relieved that I was safe, I ignored the fact that his arm was gently placed around my waist. This didn’t feel like the platonic vibe I was used to in our relationship, but being disoriented and hungover I just went back to sleep.
I’d like more than anything to say that was the last time we ended up in a bed together, but I’d be lying. A few weeks later we were both out drinking and ended up back at his place. We carried on the night laughing, eating cereal, drinking beer and doing what seemed to be an all around wholesome best friends sleepover, until it was time for bed.
I laid down, so did he. I shut my eyes, facing him, our bodies were close. It was the closest I’d ever been to someone while just barely touching them. Our faces grew closer, the breathing heavier, and mouths in front of the other ones. My heart began to race, but that’s where the moment ended. By textbook “hookup” definition, nothing happens, but to me it felt groundbreaking.
The next morning I woke up to him getting his things together for school. I was silent, hungover of course, and trying processing what had happened just several hours before.
I finally got the courage to choke out,
“What happened last night?”
and being the emotionally unintellectual human that he is, He replied,
“I don’t know man, a close call.”
He went back about his business, seemingly unphased by it all. I told him we were going to talk about it, not right then and there, but soon.
I reached out to him later that day over text message, to clarify that I didn’t want to overdramatize the situation, but I really felt we needed to discuss the blurred lines that had began to take over our relationship. He had this way of making me feel as though any emotion I had in regards to our friendship was, “dramatic,” which always made me mildly afraid to address emotional subjects with him, but this time it felt very necessary. I mean best friends should discuss such an intimate moment, right? Well, He didn’t think so.
He replied with,
“I don’t know why it has to be a big deal, but whatever you want dude.”
I felt completely dismissed, and being petty, I declined the offer to talk.
Things began to change with us even more. People who had known us forever began to heavily inquire about the status of our relationship. Was the sexual tension and confusion branded on our fucking foreheads? I’m not sure.
It was never uncommon for people to question whether or not we were a “couple.” It didn’t surprise me, we spent a ton of time together, we laughed constantly and we loved each other deeply. Wouldn’t it make so much sense to be in love with your best friend and just make it work? Well, for us? No. It was the makings of a disaster.
We continued on, “normally” as ever, but something in me had changed. I began to feel differently about him. At the time I repressed this “feeling” and never put words to it, but now I know, it is the term we call, “catching feelings.” I ignored them with every ounce of my being, and we never discussed how clearly the sexual tension in our relationship was coming to a head.
Alright, the next (and worst) phase, we’ll call this one: “The Mistake.”
I was at the bar drinking, when He came in with friends, very clearly intoxicated, but weren’t we all? He was drunk, no doubt, but nothing I hadn’t seen before. He left the before me, and I stayed and closed down the bar. As I was about to leave, He called me in crisis. He said that him and his roommate had gotten in a fight with some guys in a bar, and asked if I would stop by his house on my way home, so of course, I did. When I got there he was on the floor with a cut on his face and the beginning stages of a black eye, not to mention still drunk. I tended to him as much as I could, and decided it was best for us just to sleep it off.
We got into bed, like usual, but abnormally, He began to pull me closer to him.
“No we can’t” I said,
He replied, pleading, saying my name over and over again. We both stopped for a moment in silence, and then he kissed me, and I kissed back. It wasn’t the kind of sex you have with a stranger, you know the kind you take home after dancing and grinding on each other all night in a club? This sex was real. Our bodies intertwined, seamlessly changing positions,
“I’ve wanted this,”
he said, using my name. It was almost too intense for me, but at the same time it felt right.
When we finished I felt as though I had imagined the whole entire thing. Both of us were at a loss for words, but his next reaction is what made the entire event horrifying. After a pause, he scooted to the corner of the bed and said
“What the fuck dude…”
and continued to say,
“Where’s the girl I was with earlier?”
Both shocked and infuriated, I said,
“What the fuck did you just say to me?”
I immediately put my clothes on and began to leave. Tears began forming in my eyes.
“Holy shit, oh fuck, you’re crying,”
Crying wasn’t something we did, remember?
“I’m fucking out of here,” I replied.
I began to head home, sobbing uncontrollably. He called me almost immediately, and I answered, screaming at him. I told him that I hated him and asked how he could ever treat me that way.
“Tell me, please, what happened? How do I fix this?” he said.
I hung up.
We had plans that weekend to take a trip to the city to visit a friend for her birthday. Trying to be mature as possible, I sent him a text explaining that despite how angry I was with him, I wasn’t going to let it effect the trip. He texted me asking me to call him, which was unusual for him, so I did.
I don’t think I will ever forget that phone call.
I called, and He told me that he’d blacked out the entire night and had no recollection of what happened. Devastated, angry and empty inside, I went on to tell him about the incident that had occurred between us just the night before. He was crushed, extremely remorseful, and pleaded that we stay friends.
“I don’t want to lose you, what do I do?” he said.
It was difficult because usually I am the one who tells him how to navigate these types of issues. I’m his helper. But this was different, I couldn’t help him fix hurting my own feelings so deeply.
Later that day he told me that he couldn’t go on the trip that weekend, but assured me it was because of his lack of money and amount of school work, and absolutely not because of us.
I didn’t believe him, I still don’t.
I avoided him for awhile after that and told him I needed space to figure out how exactly I was feeling. He continued to text me everyday, apologizing, checking on me, telling me he couldn’t lose me, and that whenever I was ready we could have a conversation.
Now He was ready for the conversation. The resentment festered inside me, considering when I requested a conversation weeks before, he completely dismissed me.
“Fucking dick,” I thought to myself.
Despite my anger, I was miserable, and it was mostly because I missed him. I was deeply confused and conflicted. I didn’t know why I felt so completely dead inside.
“Maybe it’s not a huge deal?” I’d try to tell myself.
But it was a big deal, and it was some of the biggest hurt I had ever experienced. I have had one night stands that treated me better after sex, and my best friend essentially expressed his desire for another woman right after fucking me.
Despite how confused and unready I was to have a conversation, I took him up on his offer, but really only because I wanted to see him.
We grabbed a beer at the bar, and sat at a table alone upstairs. It was extremely uncomfortable, but mostly for him. He didn’t have deep talks like this, the most intense conversations he ever had was crying and screaming matches, with Her. This was a raw conversation, between two people who were severely confused about what to do next.
He went on to explain that he genuinely did not remember having sex, but that he really wished that he did.
“I’m so sorry. I would never treat you that way. I was blacked out.” he said.
I continued to listen,
“I mean, the reason I have never tried anything like that with you before is because your friendship means so much to me.”
My heart slowly breaking inside, I explained to him that it wasn’t the sex that ruined it, it was the fact that he treated me like an infectious disease after pulling out of me. He was sorry, and I knew he was. But he also didn’t have the emotional capacity to navigate this situation, and I was too damaged from it to attempt to help him figure it. Like I always do, I decided to forgive him, and try to move on. He was my person, and I missed him. So, I told myself I could let it go, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.
Well, the next and most painful phase, we’ll call it: “The Ending.”
In the days that came after, my drinking got even more out of hand. The situation with Him had thrown me even further into substance abuse. I loved him before, but now it was different, and I began to realize the deep feelings that I’d been growing for him for months now. He was still caught up on Her, and I knew these feelings I had weren’t mutual, and that pained me. While that part of it was rough, I think what got to me the most is that he didn’t even remember the sex. I was forced to be stuck with this memory, a memory of something we shared together, except He will never remember it at all, my heart ached.
We slowly started getting back into our routine of hanging out, but it was hard. I most definitely wasn’t being my best self, in fact I can honestly say I was being my fucking worst self.
One night he hit me up to get a drink at the bar after I got off work. I agreed. He showed up, and I began to drink even heavier than usual, which is a lot for a functioning 23 year old alcoholic. Him, being more sober than me, and probably slightly concerned, drove me home. We sat in my driveway and I asked him to come inside.
“No.” he said.
“It’s not a good idea, you’re drunk and I’m going home.” he went on to say.
The memory is slightly fuzzy, but I’m fairly certain that being the petty drunk bitch that I am, I threw a mild hissy fit, but eventually agreed, and sloppily gathered my belongings. What I definitely do remember, is that I went inside and got in bed, and then cried until I fell asleep.
I didn’t know what to do, so I continued. repressing my feelings.
“I have to do this. It’s Him, he’s my best friend, I can’t lose him.” I thought to myself.
They say that sometimes that it’s more painful to attempt putting the pieces back together, than it is to just leave them broken, and today I agree with that sentiment.
A week or so later I was day-fading with some coworkers, and I called him to see if wanted to join. As soon as he answered he knew I was drunk,
“I’m not doing this dude. I’m hanging up the phone. You’re drunk.” he said.
“Fucking hypocrite!” I thought to myself.
How many times had He called me drunk? How many times had I been there to talk him through a bad experience? Or to talk about his issues with Her? I sent him a nasty text, and got myself home to get some sleep.
I woke up around 2am with a earth shattering hangover, and pizza in my bed, but strangely enough that’s when I had the. major realization. Things with me and him were different, and I don’t mean different in the way that things changed when he came home from Hawaii, or when I graduated college. I realized even more so that our friendship wasn’t even exactly different, it was over.
Right in that moment of disorientation and hangover, I texted him.
I apologized for my behavior and the drunk mess that I’d become over the last several weeks. But more importantly, I told him that I had feelings for him. I explained that I knew they weren’t mutual, and because of that, mixed with the horrible situation that had occurred, I could no longer attempt to rebuild our friendship. Because it was just too fucking painful.
He responded, the next day. His response being pretty unemotional of course, but he apologized.
“If you need space, I understand. If you want to talk more, I’m here. I’m sorry this has become such a mess.” he said
To which I replied with,
“It is what it is.”
I truly didn’t mean it in a petty or snarky way, there just was nothing left to talk about, and nothing could change. We created a cyclical toxic mess and neither one of us could fix it for the other one. It was done.
So the lesson in it all of it you might ask?
I’m not sure, perhaps it’s the standard;
“Don’t fuck your friends.”
But even being the huge cynic that I am, I choose to believe it’s deeper than that.
Our relationship assisted in changing me. It brought me true friendship, great times, immense pain, and how to walk away from things that no longer make you your best self, even if that “thing” is your best friend.
I am not angry, and I fucking miss him everyday, but who knows? Maybe one day time can heal our wounds and we will find each other again.
Today we still stay in surface level contact, an occasional Snapchat, or a “Hope you’re doing good,” text message. But in the end, we never will be the same, and that’s okay. I hold the memories of our summer swimming, late night chats, endless laughter and throwing back an unhealthy amount beer, deep within my heart.
I guess we fucked up, and I do resent him for hurting me, but that doesn’t erase the reality that is, we had a beautiful friendship.
I really like to think,
“If it hurts this bad to lose, then it must have been something so good.”
I once had a woman tell me,
“I’ve never quite experienced anything as devastatingly heartbreaking as losing a best friend, not even the loss of a lover.”
Well next time I’ll have to ask her,
“Have you ever lost both at the same time?”