Today I met and caught up with my one true love and best friend since 2nd grade, Rachel, for the first time in 2 years. You’re probably thinking that that’s an awfully long time to go without seeing a best friend, let alone talk to them, and you’re right. Yes, we both lead busy live and she moved to Germany, but a big reason for our time apart was our own personal growth and recoveries.
When I moved back to Keene 2 years ago, my ex who also happened to be one of my best friends and biggest supports decided that it was in both of our best interests to part ways. As hurt as I was and as horribly as he handled it, it was what I secretly wanted too. I honestly can’t say that I was mad. Sad, yes. But not mad. For once in a very long time, he finally did the right thing. Even though I was making considerable progress in my recovery, the year after I had gotten out of treatment was a tumultuous emotional roller coaster for me and had put a strain on both of us that neither knew how to handle. That aside, we already had a long history. I did the best I could. At the time, I never thought he cared enough. But looking at back, I think he did the best he could too. He didn’t know how to handle it. It’d be very easy to blame everything on him, but I can’t. He made mistakes and I made mistakes. Helping and understanding people in recovery is extremely hard. It takes a lot of strength and patience and compassion. In the end, I believe he knew he was holding me back.
By September, we were done. Even though I knew it was a good thing, it also left a huge hole in my already very small support system. I was terrified. I had never been without him since I had developed a full-blown eating disorder. He was the one who convinced me to go to treatment. He had been with me through some of the bleakest periods of my life. I started to wonder whether I could do it without him…
And that’s when I realized, it was finally time for me to stand on my own. As much as loved my best friends and knew they loved me, I always felt like I was still perceived as a disordered being. Whether that inkling was true or not, it was holding me back. It kept me stuck in the disordered mentality and despite whatever progress I made, I continued to define myself as such. It was like when you visit or move back to your hometown after college and people still see you as your high school self. It doesn’t feel good. So I decided I needed to break away, not out of anger, but necessity. With already one best friend gone and starting over at Keene, it seemed like the right time to do so. It was time to be fearless.
Soon after the Fall semester started, I was cast as Janet in my college’s musical production of The Rocky Horror Show. The impact of that experience is a story for another day, but it became the support system I needed. I met new people who got to know me as Kristine, not an eating disorder. When I opened up about my struggles, I was met with admiration and understanding, not judgement and negativity. I finally was becoming the recovered person I always wanted to be. I can’t begin to describe how much I grew over the next 2 years. I was confident. I was socializing. I was free. Not only did I grow, but I broadened my support system. Now I have an abundance of friends and family who I can count on. I don’t have to dump all my issues on one person and strain our relationship.
Aware of the transformation I have undergone in the period apart, I admit, I was slightly apprehensive about seeing Rachel today. What if too much time had passed and we were two completely different people? But despite that nudge of insecurity, I knew we would slide effortlessly back into place. Sure enough, it was like no time had passed. We’re still two kids sunbathing on the playground map during recess.
Maybe I didn’t need to take that much time away from her and my old supports. Regardless, the time apart gave me the space I needed to grow out of the mold my eating disorder and depression encased me in. I am in such a better headspace. Even just over the course of this summer, I feel so healthy – mentally and physically – and I can see that in my best friend as well. Just in the way we talked and carried ourselves, I could see we both have a confidence that we didn’t have before. We’re more sure of ourselves. We may be uncertain about the future, but we’re certain of our worth and growth. I’m so proud of us.
I hope to continue reconnecting with old friends. Maybe someday I’ll be able to reconnect with my ex/former best friend. I never thought I’d say it, but after today’s success, I’d like that. He crosses my mind occasionally and I wonder where life has taken him. Wherever he is and whatever he’s doing, I’m sure we’re both happier where we are now than we would have been if we hadn’t parted ways.
Perhaps time and space don’t need to be perceived as bad concepts in relationships, romantic or otherwise. I don’t think I’ve ever understood the healing and evolutionary powers they possess until today. Time and space could be my allies. Taking chances and a tenacious heart could be too. Maybe I don’t have to fear them so much. Maybe there are times to stay put and what you want will come to you in time, and maybe there are times to go out get it for yourself. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with treading both paths. Maybe it’s because I’ve graduated and everything is wide open, but for once I’m facing uncertainty with unwavering eyes.
Come what may, I will be okay.