friends hiking

The friendship equation. Solving for the unknowns.

friends hikingOutside of my family the person I see most is someone I haven’t spoken to in nine years. We don’t live in the same state anymore, but when I am in a certain state of mind he visits me, sometimes helpful, sometimes mocking, always too slippery to hold on to.

For the first handful of years after our break up I nursed my pain. I was energized by the hot spike of indignation I felt when I told our story and his ultimate betrayal. I would tease out the ways in which he was wrong, the ways he failed to appreciate the intimacy of our relationship, choosing business over friendship in the most literal way.

I should not have been surprised. Through my divorce, my father’s death, my weekends spent with unfamiliar men on unfamiliar drugs he was my Monday morning. We would meet for breakfast and he would tell me matter of factly that my latest hook up was married. He knew everyone in town, but would only vet people for me after the fact, informer rather than protector. We would have our coffee refilled and transition from my craziness to his business. He would flip back a page of one of his endless loop of list notebook and we would track the to dos that had to be carried over from pages ago. I would try to assign them psychological significance and he would laugh. With him things were systematic not symptomatic.

[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]He was the constant in the equation of my life that I found too difficult to solve.[/Tweet] He was the constant in the equation of my life that I found too difficult to solve.

With time and distance from my tumult I became more comfortable in my own head, no longer using men or hallucinogens to muddy my mind. I committed to therapy and legal drugs. I slept more. I began to recognize real numbers. I healed myself with eight hours of sleep, 100mg of antidepressant, four hours of yoga, two hours alone each day. Despite my growing time alone there was still lunch and breakfast, investing and house renovation recommendations.  As we both entered committed relationships the threads from which our friendship was woven began to loosen. We had gotten into business together years ago when he was pragmatic and I was emotional. Now the sum of our relationship was rental income minus repair cost, multiplied by hours spent on management plus number of excuses we gave each other as our lives moved on and away from each other.

When I would get his text reading “lunch?” I was a town or two away, at the grocery store. When I made it into town and asked to meet for breakfast he was already in our spot with someone else. Years later I know how natural this is. I don’t know exactly the role I played for him…but I had found a new constant in my husband, and new mysteries in my kids. I was ready to flip the pages of my own to do lists. Despite this I was hurt and angry. As we dissolved our business partnership he was unemotional. I faulted him for this despite it being the very quality that had drawn me to him in the first place. I had expected him to act the way I would have…the fact that he was simply himself was disproportionately crushing. 

Like most grudges this one was not really about the object of my upset.

When I am thoughtful, when I am kind, I know the break up was never with him. Our friendship had played the exact role it should have for our life stages. Our friendship was my one point of pride in a time of life I would rather forget. The person I was really angry at was myself. That young twenties version of me, with her highs and lows and drugs and sex and business and getting into other people’s business. I never really said goodbye. I never really told her why we were finished.

So I will now.

Thank you for the time you gave me away from time. I am not simply embarrassed by my lost weekends and sleepless nights. I needed them to stop the incessant measuring my life and ambitions that had been my nagging partner since childhood. I stopped being good and lived to tell the tale. I finally lost control and came out the otherside. Today I am less fearful and more steady. After a decade bouncing between tears and going on a tear I am finally settled down, literally and figuratively. I couldn’t have been this person without being her for a while. And I probably couldn’t have been her without the constant of my Monday morning friend.

It took a decade but I can look back at both of you and say thank you. And almost all the time I mean it.

Friendship equation
Friendship equation

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

28 thoughts on “The friendship equation. Solving for the unknowns.”

  1. Awesome piece my friend. Very deep and insightful. Relationships help mold us, help us become who we are. Good or bad they all serve a purpose.

  2. Great that you were able to see the value in how you were back then and to forgive and through that to also forgive your friend. I found it interesting that you are able to see why you needed the lost weekends “to stop the incessant measuring my life and ambitions that had been my nagging partner since childhood.” I had lost weekends in my late teens and early twenties too (to drink rather than drugs) and felt a lot of shame and self-hatred before eventually coming to a similar conclusion to yours.
    Thanks for joining in #1000Speak!

  3. After reading your post, I am realising how cathartic and therapeutic writing this forgiveness post has been for so many of us. That it’s been more about process raw emotions and difficult perspectives perhaps not for the first time but perhaps for the first time from a perspective of true forgiveness rather than anger and blame. I can see that for so many of us it has been a heart-lived and felt process.
    I admire you for letting go with that tie with your past and realising you had all the ingredients to move forward in yourself and your new life. That can take a lot of courage, although when the time is right, I’ve noticed many of my friends sail forward.
    Speaking of my own journey, the hardest part in being in the hole and not knowing what lies ahead and not knowing you will come out okay.
    xx Rowena

  4. Looking back on ourselves and friendship helps us move forward. You are now obviously a different person who is at peace with herself. It is good that you aren’t mourning the loss of the friendship but the richness the friendship gave you.

  5. It’s interesting to see how our life journey spins out and who is with us for different stages along the way. I hope he gets to read this and can smile.

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