the breakup that gave me blisters

The other day, I came across this post:

I wish there were more discussion about friendship breakups and how hard they are. Romantic breakups have songs, movies, cultural weight. You can talk about breaking up with a significant other on social media and expect sympathy. Nobody talks about breaking up with friends.

I know that’s because of amatonormativity and how romantic relationships are seen as ‘more important’ than friendship. Which is bullshit. We need to talk more about the importance of friendship and how much it hurts when suddenly someone you thought you knew and trusted decides you’re no longer an important part of their life.

This obviously doesn’t just apply to arospec people. It just been on my mind a lot recently and I thought it’s something aro people could really relate to.

It got me thinking about the Ex-Friend, who I’ve alluded to on here enough times that there really should be a specific tag for him on this blog at this point.

So, you want to read about breaking up with friends?

We were in different parts of the country at the time, communicating through text messages and IMs.  After the last and the worst of our fights, the one where the dam of my self-worth finally caved to the accumulation of everything he’d insinuated and I broke down crying in front of my parents on family vacation and wrote this with the pounding headache I always get whenever I cry too hard — after all that, I decided not to log back in or text him again for a while.

A part of me was still waiting for an apology.

He didn’t reach out to me any time soon after that, and I made no effort to make contact with him either.  That gave me time to really think about what had happened, discuss it in brief with some other friends, and make some decisions about what I was willing to put up with.  Several days passed.  I dragged myself kicking and screaming to the conclusion that I couldn’t keep being friends with him anymore.  Not if it came with this kind of cost.

Eventually, I gave up on expecting him to apologize.  It was over, and that was for the best.

And then, after I had made peace with that, I got a text from him.

Hey… I’m sorry.

That’s what it said, exact words.  I just now worked up the gumption to look back in my logs and check, because I couldn’t remember if I had been the one to reach out to him first.

There it was, that apology I’d been biding my time for.

Too little, too late.

I told him as much, in different words.

That’s unexpected, but I can’t say it makes enough difference for me to change my mind at this point.  I thought we could be friends, but I was wrong.  Not even saying this to be hurtful, I just… need to accept it, for my own sake.

No blame, no accusations, as careful and as cautious and diplomatic as I could make (while hurting so bad), it because I didn’t want to give him room to incite another fight.  He probably could have started one anyway, if he’d had his mind set on it.  Instead, he was apologetic and respectful and belly-up submissive and “Can I ask why?”

You want to know why?

It’s because I’m an ace with Issues and critical thinking skills, and he had ways of making it known that that combination got on his nerves.

That’s not what I told him, of course.

I sent him a big long message of a civil explanation, blunt but unoffensive.  And he sent me a big long message in response, one I still can’t assess the sincerity of.  And I never replied.  And that was that.

The day that I told him I didn’t want to be in contact with him anymore, or maybe a few days after, these clear pimple-looking things started appearing on the palms of my hands.  They itched and hurt and were ugly as all get out and I wanted to know how to get rid of them.  Unlike zits, they couldn’t be popped, and pinching them as hard as I could accomplished nothing but pain.

A casual investigation indicated that it was dyshidrotic eczema.

The only causes I could find for it were things I could rule out, seasonal/temperature changes, and stress.

The only advice I could find was to visit a dermatologist or wait it out.

I was beginning to think it might be permanent, because it persisted for days, as did my melancholy at having lost one of my closest friends at the time — I’m not good at making or maintaining friendships, so to lose one is to take a big hit to any degree of social connectedness I have beyond my family household.

But eventually, my hands cleared up and the bumps went away.

It did seem a bit ironic, me getting eczema after breaking up with him.  He’s had chronic eczema all his life.

He gave me eczema, I joked in my head.

I never really could pin down the exact cause, though.  My family was in vacation in the Southwest desert in summer, and that seemed as probable an explanation as any.

And then this happened, and I noticed another little clear bump appear on the palm of my right hand, the beginnings of more eczema.

I filed his email away so that it would disappear from my inbox.

And soon enough, the bump disappeared, too.

7 responses to “the breakup that gave me blisters

  • luvtheheaven

    This post was poetic. ;) I’m sorry you went through that, as I was each time you posted an installment of this saga. It sounds so rough. I’m glad you did get through it though. And you’re absolutely right that more than just aromantic-spectrum people can and do go through friendship breakups that are significant and matter and should be talked about more and respected as serious much more often.

  • Calum P Cameron

    Yeah, that’s rough. As it happens, I can empathise to a degree from experience both on the painful breakup thing and on the dyshidrosis thing, although in my case they were (probably) not connected.

    I’m sorry about what happened to you, dawg.

  • Quinoa

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m so sorry you went through all that. I had a similar experience years ago with a friend who said I might be asexual (this was before I knew I was asexual) and said that would be terrible and kept trying to get me to change it. He had a crush on me. He was also trying to change other things about me. Eventually, I cut off the friendship, which was hard, because we still see each other at the annual event where we met. Over the years, things have gotten less and less awkward. This year, I came out to him and his friends, and he apologized. I’m happy about that, but trying to be careful not to let us get as close as we were before. I suppose it’s like breaking up with a romantic partner but staying friends, except that we were close friends and now we’re more like acquaintances.

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