I knew my relationship was truly over when I woke up on New Years Day in a bunk bed next to a close friend sleeping soundly in a onesie. My loose-cannon boyfriend had caused a scene at a bar just a few waking hours into 2016 and my friend pulled me out of there, stuck me in a cab, and laid with me until I felt okay enough to laugh about the fact that our new year began with him in a onesie.
My boyfriend showed up with white roses shortly thereafter and it took four more months before the five-year relationship officially ended. We sat on the edge of his bed, stared at anything but each other, and finally admitted it just wasn’t working.
So, with the wind knocked out of me, I shot out a rescue flare. Seemingly within minutes, one of my best friends from college appeared at the bedroom door. She wordlessly gathered my things, traveled with me across Central Park, and sat with me while I shook, sobbed, and howled "how" over and over again. She stayed until I stopped questioning the universe and started inhaling full breaths of air again. When she left to return to her real life, it struck me that she dropped everything on a sleepy Sunday to come sit and watch me unravel into a fit of heartbreak. And suddenly I could not remember the last time I had done that for a friend.
When you’re in a relationship, you have someone–someone who agrees with you, someone who supports you, someone who stays in with you on a Friday night. My someone kept me content and, as a result, I grew complacent. I had tons of friends. And I saw them a lot, probably more than average. But I wasn’t engaged. I was there to drink and dance away a Saturday night, but I avoided the weeknight catch ups and conversations. So, in the coming months, I shot every rescue flare in my arsenal.
We know our friends will always be there for us. We trust that. I trusted that. But I didn’t know the capacity to which they would be there for me before my breakup. I didn’t know that the same friend who stormed my ex’s room would return to my bed weeks later to ride out a panic attack with me and then buy me daiquiris.
I didn’t know my friend would, on a whim, buy my ex’s music festival ticket and fly across the country to go with me. I didn’t know that my friend would walk with me from 23rd to 79th street (in wedges no less) after I burst into tears at another friend’s birthday party. (I didn’t know that other friend wouldn’t mind that I cried at her birthday party.)
I didn’t know that my friend would cook me homemade dinners while I pored over the same anxieties for as many weeknights as I needed. I didn’t know my friend would go pick up my boxed-up things at my ex’s–and then store them in her one-bedroom apartment. I didn’t know my friend would invite me on a trip to Miami with her friends because I didn’t have plans for a weekend. I didn’t know my friend would lock himself in a bathroom and sit on the floor with me because I was too sad to be at a party. I didn’t know my friend would go out with me every single time I asked, and then not get mad at me when I started to cry every single time I went out.
I didn’t know my friends would excuse me for lashing out, let me feel as sad in month three as I did on day three, and forgive me for it all. I didn’t know my friends would be the spine I needed when mine refused to hold me up.
I lost my someone. But in the months since, my friends have become my new someone. I talk and touch base more. I empathize. I drop everything and run when I can. But perhaps most important, I realize that love feels the same whether it’s coming from your significant other or from your friends. It fills your chest, restores your appetite, and pushes you forward all the same. Love is excessively patient and stupidly forgiving. It will drag you out of bed to a comedy show to make you laugh and let you stay in bed when you can't imagine laughing. It will remind you of your worth when you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. Love will apply your concealer to your swollen eyes for you.
Honestly, I still have bad days. In most moments I’m happy, I’m lighter, I’m laughing, I’m okay. In other moments, I still cry and scream and question every move I made. But I have my someones to remind me that that’s okay. The heartbreak will stop, but the rescue flares don't have to.