I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But one look at the cover photo of My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends tells me that editors Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger of The HerStories Project are on the right track.
Literally. The photo is of two women walking side by side on railroad tracks. Arms outstretched, their fingers touch—but barely. They have come to a switch, a tricky junction where two parallel tracks diverge. The necessary curvature allowing for an additional direction means the women must move a little farther apart. Each walks precariously on the narrow track edges; one looks as if she is about to lose her balance. Will they be able to negotiate this change in the tracks safely?
Or will they get zapped by the third rail of female friendships—envy, competition, aggression, differentiation, betrayal, conflict, conflict-avoidance, to name just a few? All the not-so-nice realities that beset girls and women. When we inevitably encounter such things with no language to talk about them, our closest friendships often crash and burn in fiery ruptures. Or end not with a bang, but with a whimper that leaves us wondering what happened.
Either way, it’s like a punch in the gut. My friendship break-ups have knocked the wind out of me for years. I obsess, I brood, I go over and over what went wrong. I hate her, I miss her. I can’t move on. And almost every woman I know has experienced her own particular version of such heartbreak.
We bear our grief in shameful silence, though. The hyper-celebration of gal pals just makes you feel worse when your friendship turns pallid or your friend turns on you.
At long last, My Other Ex breaks through the silence and sheds some light on why ruptures are so common. I can’t wait to delve beyond the picture into the many thousands of words these women write about friendships derailed.
Have you ever experienced rupture with a female friend? What was it like? Lessons learned?