They say that there is value in every relationship.
They say you learn something every time you lose someone.
Or, at least, that you can learn something.
I’ve never believed in friendship after a break up. It doesn’t work for me; I don’t know how to do half measures, to go from giving everything to just keeping things on the level.
Except for one.
The one who used to be The One.
When our relationship ended, in my smoldering hot twenties, there was an aching void that amounted to nearly a decade of depression.
Then, one day, there he was in the form of a message on MySpace. (Yes, that long ago!) We chatted and caught up on so many life events–and it was OK. We could trade jokes about fond memories without regret, without sadness. Suddenly I had my best friend back, a puzzle piece I hadn’t realized was missing. He knows me better than anyone ever has, and he is the one person who has never, ever lied to me or broken my trust.
As in all things personal, I lead with my heart. Usually he’s the cool voice of reason tempering my intense emotions. He was the one who not only reached out to find me but set the right boundaries–gently, so gently, as we found our way together to a place where we could lean on each other through adulthood.
But every once in a while, he surprises me.
He called me, and I picked up the phone as I exited the shower, still belting out Adele.
“Hello from the other side!” I sang out cheerfully, belly flopping on to my bed.
There was a long, long moment of silence from the other end of the line.
“Hello?” I asked after a moment, confused.
“Yes,” he said, his voice strangled and rough. “But the difference is that I always pick up the phone, when you call. Always.”
My heart caught in my throat.
I have long acknowledged that it was my fault, that I broke my own heart.
I have long since apologized for all the hurt.
I didn’t know that, after all this time, he sometimes still hurt, too.
After a long, tense silence, we both quietly hung up without another word.
We know each other that well.
Even, or maybe especially, when it means the most to not say anything at all.