You can find friends just about anywhere on a college campus. I found the best friend of my junior year at a club meeting. I met Henry*, an older and more experienced sophomore that I could depend on for guidance, my freshman year. However, I never expected the way our friendship would indefinitely end, nor that it would draw to a close quite so soon.
The beginning of the end
At the beginning of junior year, Henry and I moved in together as roommates with two other guys. I opened up a great deal to him, talking about the misfortunes of my life. We talked about my parents’ divorce and the time I spent in a closed ward after not getting any sleep for four days, which was filled with conversations with numerous detoxing and struggling drug addicts. I told him about the possible abuse from a deceased family member that I’d carried unspoken in my memory for 15 years. Finally, I told him about the many attempts for romance I’d staged through the years, all of which failed and caused me heartbreak.
Perhaps I opened up too much to this new friend. I mean, I’d only known him a couple of years. But we’d shared a lot together, and I felt comfortable confiding in him. He became my shoulder to lean on for over a year. However, all this ended on one swift day that appeared to come out of nowhere.
At about 1 a.m. Henry, his girlfriend and I had just walked back from State Street, where people burn couches, drink and loiter and cause general mayhem after UK basketball games. I’d just gotten ready for bed when I heard a heavy knock on my door. My roommate’s girlfriend was crying and asked me to please come talk to her and Henry.
He was a mess; he seemed very emotionally upset and talked incoherently. I’d never seen him in that state before so this was severely unexpected. We talked for a couple of hours, which nearly helped him calm down. Fortunately, the fire alarm going off and having to go outside in the rain saved us from the tight tension in the room. We managed to make Henry smile and realize that he still had things under control.
Constantly wondering, “Where did I go wrong?”
A couple days later he got really upset again and would not calm down. I tried everything, from talking, to meditation, prayer and distractions through memes, YouTube videos and Reddit threads. Eventually I realized that it was beyond my capabilities. His parents came and got him and took him home. It felt hard to see him go, and I promised him that I’d always be there to support him.
Henry and I didn’t talk at all for nearly two months. He said he wanted space from everything, and I respected that. So I left him alone, every now and then sending positive texts and thoughts. We’d done a lot together up to that point in the year, so it came as kind of a shock to not have my best friend with me. I focused all my efforts on school and did not have much of a social life. Going to Barnes and Noble and Cold Stone Creamery seemed like the only things I really ever did with friends during this time.
He didn’t reach out to have a conversation until the beginning of May. He claimed that I’d smothered and overwhelmed him with all my problems, and that I had put too much of the weight I carried upon his delicate shoulders. I felt astounded and shocked, confused about what I’d done wrong. I talked to a counselor and several other people about the situation, and they couldn’t really help me very much. Nothing about the situation made any sense to me. I had a few bad nights, sure, but who the hell hasn’t? He had helped me process some very difficult thoughts. Yet then, he said he wanted to set a boundary between us, and that I needed to leave him alone.
Learning that acceptance means moving on
It’s been hard to accept but I have been coping with this surprising and sad turn of events. I have kissed our friendship good bye for an indefinite amount of time, and am chalking this one down to experience. I do have other friends, and I feel comforted with that thought. We have to learn to let go, and damn, it feels difficult. But it’s a part of life. Friendships will come and go like the wind. We have to choose which ones to use to help push us along on the journey that is life. Mostly, I’ve learned to not depend so much on others, but more on myself.
We all have to think wisely when we build a friendship. It is important to be open with others, but we can never know when our concerns become too much to someone. As the valedictorian of my high school class said, “There will always be a lot of people in our lives. It is our job to discover who among them truly care about us, and who are simply using us for something.”
*Name changed to protect privacy.