Saturday, January 15, 2011

On Friendship and Breakups...

DISCLAIMER: This is one of those posts inspired by many things. Do not read too much into it.

It’s kind of strange I’m writing this, because just a few weeks ago, I was thinking of how some breakups should be celebrated with champagne because the relationships were toxic and both parties are better off, if not now, in the long run.

I overheard a conversation today that made me think down another road and the usual ensuing spiral of thoughts, memories, flashbacks and experiences, whether first- or third-hand, birthed this post.

I am writing this as a personal letter and being female, the significant other will be a guy; please feel free to replace the pronouns and references to suit your ear and/situation when reading to yourself


Dear Friend,

When I tell you about a breakup, I am not asking for a co-signature on how horrible a guy he was and how I am so much better off without him. Whether it was for a decade or a month, for some period in my life, he meant the world to me. If he was a jerk, I probably know by the time I’m telling you and I know you mean well, but your repeating that to me doesn’t help me much.

I loved him, or at least believed I did. I deemed him worthy of my time and affections. Whilst you were busy with your work and own relationship, chasing your dreams and doing you, he listened to all my fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations. He made me smile. He tolerated my nonsense. He held me when I was afraid and told me I could go through whatever it was that had me scared.

I’m crying now because I’m hurting and fine, you could say he’s the reason for my tears. But I remember many times I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants, thanks to him. I remember many smiles he put on this tear streaked face. And I remember many times he was the one who wiped away, instead of caused these tears.

Please refrain from ‘I told you so’ and ‘I knew this would happen’ Can we talk about those when I don’t have tears streaming down my cheeks? Right now, I just need my friend to listen, hold my hand and share my pain.

When I’m done crying and your goofy, cheering-up antics succeed in molding my lips into an upward arc, then, we can talk. When you can tease me about my tears without causing another geyser of hot, scalding tears to burst forth, then we can do the postmortem. 
What do we talk about? Forget him, let’s start with me. Ask me what made him worth a try in the first place. My reasons and motives for dating him are a good place to start. Most at times, with the right questions and probing, if it was truly so, you won’t have to tell me ‘I told you so’ I’ll tell you, you told me so. And whilst it may feel good for me to ‘give you your stone’ as termed in local parlance, do not dwell there.

The purpose of this exercise is not who has been proven right, but to help me on the process of becoming a better me. As a friend, you are helping me figure out where I may have gone wrong and we’re starting at the decision to date him, because the beginning is always a good place to start, not so you can gloat. If you find yourself enjoying making me squirm and saying ‘otwiala!’ please hand in your friendship card and exit. A friend shouldn’t enjoy seeing my distress and pain, self-inflicted, or no.

You can ask me what I liked most about being with him, why I stayed and shared whatever length of time of my life with him. What I didn’t like about him and why I stayed anyway.

Ask me what ended the relationship, and what I think ended it. They may be two different things. If you have any ideas of where I may have gone wrong, this is a good point to lovingly suggest it. Play the devil’s advocate. Remind me of things my pain, anger and hurt may be making me overlook or see wrongly. Use your friend’s privileges here. It might save us having this conversation again.

If he cheated or left me for another, were there any attitudes of mine that you think may have pushed him away and driven him into another’s arms? If he was violent, do I have a waspish tongue that makes even you glad you’re not my man? Did I make you wish you could shake some sense into me at times?

Now, I am not condoning unfaithfulness or violence of any sort or form. You know I hate both with a passion. But I’d rather you tell me to my face, rather than to Akosua, how you think I stopped dressing up and looking good and gained an unattractive twenty pounds once we started dating or got married. I’d rather you tell me, rather than Ama, how you hated how I talked down to my man in public.


Why are you my friend if you can’t tell me when I go wrong? Or in this case, where I went wrong? If you told me before and I didn’t listen, there’s no harm repeating it now. Even if I resent you and think you unsupportive, in my sober moments, I’ll be sure to consider the veracity of your statements.

You see, there are many people out there who will tell me what they think I need to hear, that he was no good, I’m better off without him, that he doesn’t know what a good thing he’s let go, etc., etc. Many of them will just be paying lip service and some will laugh at me and gloat once I’m out of earshot.

You can tell me those things too, when they are true, and when I need a morale booster. But dear friend, when I tell you about a break up, more important than a need for comfort and a reason to smile and move on, is a silent plea… to help me, to not only get out of the great pain and heartache, but to avoid it in future. A plea to help me learn any lessons there might be in the cloud of heartache, and hold me accountable to avoiding the same pitfalls in future.

When I tell you about a break up, it’s not just for chocolate and ice cream; nor phone calls and text messages enquiring how I’m holding up. It’s not only for encouraging scripture about how God comforts the broken hearted. It’s also for you to pray with me that God opens my heart and mind to learn the lessons therein.

Even when he was just a jerk, my choice of him, above all others, is something we should look into. Even if he had everyone fooled, your prayers are needed that I don’t meet another such nor attract only such. And if he was Mr. Wonderful and I drove him away, need I say more? Your work is cut out for you.

So you see, friend, when I tell you about a break up, pamper me some, let’s go through the dreary postmortem and vaccination against future attacks.

Only then, my friend, if he deserves it, can we make a sand sculpture or snow man of him and shoot it dead; Call him every bad name under the sun and make up some more; Open the champagne and let it rain; Celebrate a relationship from which we can be sure I emerged stronger, wiser and more prudent…

Cos no matter how ugly his nose or character is, I loved him, there was a reason. We broke up, there is a reason. And until I learn my lessons and heal, these reasons will keep coming back to haunt me… and you… because you’re my friend :) :) :)

Your Friend, Me


  1. What a great post,i'm loving the way your mind works.

  2. Thanks, Anon... What are friends for, if not to help you be the best you can be?