Content warning: This article contains mentions of abusive relationships.
I can still see my former best friend.
She’s wearing an outfit, probably a dress with leggings, and she’s beat her face to some degree — Elyse doesn’t do casual. There are at least three rings on her small hands, and she tends to wear two necklaces. The silver chains are probably looped around each other, needing to be straightened. I used to bend down and fix them for her — she’s five feet and three-quarters of an inch tall to my five-nine.
When we’d hug, I often put my chin on top of her head. She’s curled her hair. It’s blonde, but I know the colour comes from a bottle. It’s been black and red before, but naturally it’s a light-brown. Not many people know that, but it’s something that comes from 15 years of friendship.
This autumn would mark 16 — more than half our lives. The shortest way I can tell it is this: Last summer, I stopped speaking to Elyse because she didn’t believe that I had been emotionally and verbally abused.
But that’s not the truest explanation, nor is it the fairest. Sometimes I want to say I lost her to abuse, but I didn’t misplace her, nor do I feel deprived of what we once had. I did — and do — grieve the death of our friendship, something that bordered more on sisterhood than anything, but it’s the sort of sorrow that comes from having invested years of my life in something that turned toxic.
I don’t miss her, cruel as that may sound.
What happened was reminiscent of the end of a romance, but saying “I broke up with my best friend” sounds more mundane than what transpired. “Why did you break up?” people ask, and the answers vary: “The sex got stale,” “I met someone else,” “He didn’t want to have kids,” “She wasn’t emotionally available.” This was not like that. It was violent, cruel, painful, and protracted by confusion.