Not every story has a happy ending. Not every person has good intentions. And not every friendship is forever. Sometimes the good things or even the good people in your life are only temporary fixtures. This can be a hard thing to grapple with, but once it’s digested, letting someone go is the most invigorating feeling. I don’t like to think of people, especially friends, as disposable, but there comes a point where the relationship is no longer indispensable and the person is no longer essential to your happiness.

I spent so much time looking back at an old friendship that I wasn’t paying attention to the present one. I put someone on a pedestal that just didn’t deserve to be there. The person who I thought had saved me was the one who ended up destroying me, but it taught me one of the most important lessons I have learned at college. To some extent, I do believe that your past experiences with a person should affect your current relationship, but they shouldn’t justify it. If a person doesn’t continually treat you in the ways in which you deserve, you shouldn’t have them in your life.

People always seem to talk about heartbreak in terms of romantic relationships, but in my experience, platonic relationships bring forward the worst of woes. I’ve never liked change, and I think that is why it took me so long to realize that you weren’t the same person who made everything better. You were no longer the friend I could confide in, or even a friend at all. I created a false reality in which things with us would get better. Deep down, I knew they wouldn’t, but accepting that they wouldn’t was something I couldn’t do.

It took me a long while to realize you are not the kind, sweet person you used to be. All of the hurtful things you said to me have surely erased all of the “good” I thought you had done. You used my flaws as weapons. You used the time you spent helping me as an excuse to hate me. Every conversation turned into an argument. I didn’t enjoy talking to you but I couldn’t fathom a world where I didn’t. So, I ignored the advice from my real friends and put all my effort into recreating the relationship I once adored.

You knowingly let me experience trauma and never looked back. You didn’t cause it, but you didn’t stop it, either. An active bystander isn’t just someone who witnesses a situation; they are someone who tries to take the necessary steps to stop it from escalating. That was the day I realized I couldn’t keep loving you for old reasons. Maybe the “old you” would have helped me, but the “old you” wasn’t there. Knowing you actively chose not to help me was not something I could erase.

I don’t know who I was when we were friends, but it’s not who I am now. That person depended so heavily on you and that’s not someone I ever want to be again. They were weak and sought help in the worst places. They were selfishly trying to love someone who didn’t want to be loved. They were stupid for trying to fix something that couldn’t, or didn’t want, to be fixed. I was left alone with the raw parts of you, when all I wanted was the chance to experience all of you.

This isn’t to say you don’t cross my mind every once in awhile because you do. Every time I order an egg cream or listen to all the music you’ve shown me, I think of you. I’m happy to say each day I attach less and less of you to the things we both loved. I’m free from your controlling nature, but more importantly I’m free from my need to please you. I’m no longer chained to your dramatic spin-offs of reality or criticisms of my choices.

I am boundless.

I never thought I would get so attached to another person. The easy advice to give would be to keep your back to people so you can run if necessary. But that’s unrealistic. Bonds are inevitable. They form when you least expect them to. And they can break at a moment’s notice. Was the bond itself worth the aftermath? Not in my case. But sometimes they are. I’m not swearing off all intimate friendships, because there are some friends I would be lost without. I’m just saying that staying someone’s friend for reasons other than that they continue to make you happy is dangerous. Neither party deserves that. Stay because you genuinely want to, not because you think you should.