subject line: the side of heartbreak that nobody talks about

 
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the peach state

Romance fills the air like smoke. Either we cough it up or we make it our new oxygen. Breathing either becomes a little easier, or we heave in the air with defiant lungs. And people either talk about their hearts skipping a beat or breaking. They talk about either the knots or the butterflies in their stomach. I see it everywhere — people talking about love and heartbreak, the boy who slept in another bed, the girl who watched the love of her life get married to someone else, someone falling into a pit of depression when the person they cherished most decided to walk away. Romance. It can kill you. But there’s another side of heartbreak that nobody talks about, and it’s just as capable of fatality.

Platonic love. Surely, that won’t walk away. Of course, you’ll be friends forever. You hit it off in college and she’ll be the maid of honor at your wedding and your kids will grow up together. Or maybe you met it middle school. You went through the very short stage of thinking of him more than a friend, but then you realize you “don’t want to ruin that friendship” and your heart swoons for another guy in high school who ends up breaking your heart. And your best friend is the shoulder to cry on, right? The one you bake cookies with at 2 in the morning while Seinfeld plays in the background, the person you come to get advice from after your mom gives you the advice you don’t want to hear. Or maybe it’s a group of friends. You all go to different colleges and lose touch even though you swore up and down that you would do everything in your power to make it work.
When I start to look at someone as my “best friend”, it scares me to death. Because “best friends” have broken my heart in the past. And the nights when my friends and I stay out late at Waffle House, laughing and learning the life story of the waitress who complains about the lack of music available on the jukebox, running through trails to get to that perfect spot by the lake where we can stargaze and then rolling down that steep hill while that one responsible friend stays at the top and yells at everyone to stop because “someone is bound the get hurt”, or maybe we skip the stargazing and go to someones house and watch a movie that we’ve all seen while the girlfriend falls asleep on the boyfriends chest (every friend group has a perfect couple, right?) and the two people who thought about dating but never actually did just flirtatiously throw popcorn at each other, when I spend nights like this with my friends, I find myself feeling the need to put up some sort of wall because it scares me. Losing them scares me. It doesn’t matter that we’ve known each other for six or or so years. It doesn’t matter that the gifts we all gave each other for Christmas were deeply meaningful and showed just how much we cared for each other. I’m so scared that they will walk away. I’m so scared that one day, we’ll all lose touch, or something will happen that will pull us all apart. And sometimes, driving home from the nights of adventure with my friends, I find myself crying in my car because I remember that one friend who treated me like shit and left me with the kind of spirit that doesn’t trust people easily. I remember that one friend who used to call me randomly, we’d talk on the phone for hours, everyone would say how inseparable we were, and then there was a silent letting go of each other, a “hey, I know you said this and that’s not okay so I’m gonna walk away now”, a disagreement, a picture posted of their new best friend when you haven’t talked in two weeks. Friendship can kill, too. But no one seems to talk about that. Is it because it hurts so much? Is it because for some reason, we feel like people can’t relate as much as they can to the boy who didn’t say “I love you” back, so we deem our stories of broken friendships unworthy to share? Friends effect our hearts. They make it easier to breathe sometimes. But they can also make breathing a bit harder. And I’m scared of losing my breath.