By Emily Rosenberg
Three years ago, I left the most toxic friend I ever had.
We had been friends since freshman year of high school. In our senior cast circle, a theater tradition where we complimented the people who impacted our lives, I announced I found a best friend for life.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
She made ableist jokes about my friends and picked fights with me when I got better grades than her in class. She frequently shared rumors and made cruel, harmful comments about our friends both in person and on her “finsta.” But if I ever tried to confront her about it, she turned herself into the victim, made nasty comments about me, and told me “friends are supposed to support each other.”
When she got together with her fantasy crush, she started spending every day with him. Luckily I had other people to hang out with. I spent at least three or four days a week at my friend Dale’s house who lived two blocks down the street from me.
Dale and I met at the literary magazine club, which I was the assistant editor of at the time. He mainly was the DJ for our should-be quiet writing sessions and wrote food metaphor poems about his crushes. I’m not going to lie, I kinda thought he was boyfriend material, until our editor-in-chief blurted out something about how gay she was and he went “sameeeeeee.” In case you’re wondering, my gaydar has improved by a lot since.
That summer, my twin sister, Dale, and I became an inseparable trio.
Dale made me watch Britbox and “Twin Peaks,” and sent me pictures of the Virgin Mary in response to my rants. His little brother is like my little brother, waking me up at 6 a.m. to serve tea and toast with jam.
One time, Dale bought checkered scarves and we walked from his house to mine with them draped over our shoulders like queens in the hot summer. Another time we invited our friend, Laura, to play Club Penguin with us when his brother set up a tent. We rode our bikes across Beverly, telling stories about our least favorite high school teachers.
I have a list of “people who aren’t Dale who watched Cinderella III with me” because of the number of times we sat down to watch a movie and he denied my privilege to watch the cinematic masterpiece, and instead put on something ridiculous like “Loving Vincent” or “The Malia family.”
Every minute I didn’t spend with my former best friend was another minute I spent with someone else who valued my time and filled it with memories I will cherish forever – with someone who values me.
When the pandemic forced Dale and me apart, there weren’t as many movie nights, and our everyday texts turned into weekly. I moved to college, and it has been almost a year without seeing each other.
Although we hardly see each other in person anymore, I have no doubt the bond we share will never fracture. I’m already planning play dates for our children and picking out outfits for his wedding. The parent gossip is going to be juicy – I guarantee it.
I also have an amazing group of people who I met at FSU who every day remind me how fun life can be. They lift me up when I’m stressed, dance to Taylor Swift with me, and make me feel validated.
It’s through these relationships that the pain my former best friend caused will heal. I realize it is not I who is not worthy of love.
It was she who did not deserve my time.
A friendship is a two-way commitment, but it is not bound by legal documents.
For all those years, I thought I had to deal with my friend’s damaging behavior because if I didn’t, no one else would like me. I thought that was just what friends were like. I was doomed to bad people because I wasn’t cut out for the good ones.
It is because I allowed myself to get to know Dale that he’s shown me that a real friend is kind, supportive, and caring.
Everyone deserves to be surrounded by wonderful people. You just have to believe you deserve it.