My heart skipped, my lungs took in a sharp intake of air, and my eyes widened to take in what I just saw. It was John. Right in front of me. I live hundreds of miles from him now — what the heck is he doing here?

As my brain tried to process all of this, he spoke and his voice snapped a rod in my mind. It was John’s face but not his voice. When I finally looked at him full-on and took in who this really was in front of me, I understood.

This wasn’t John. Just some guy at church — who happened to look exactly like John.

If you’ll recall, John was my best friend (or a facsimile thereof). Things between us have been rough as of late — meaning I try to avoid talking to him, don’t follow him on any social media site available, and all around avoid him as a subject (typically).

I moved recently, ending up many states away from John. Secretly, I was thrilled. More distance might mean more peace.

Honestly, it’s worked. I’ve been handling it pretty well recently — well enough to be open about it. I’ve been happy with the progress.

And then, well, John’s separated twin decided to appear in my life. However, I didn’t notice the resemblance at first. My first meeting with John’s twin was great — he’s a great guy! I even thought how he and I could end up being good friends.

Fast forward a few weeks to yesterday and you get the scene described at the opening. My double-take nearly caused me to choke on my lunch. I would have sworn up and down that John had just walked into the coffee shop. Instead, it was just John’s twin.

Today, while walking around work, I saw him again, this time from the back. I almost fell forward due to the unreal and freakish resemblance. I immediately ran to an empty room, hit the lights, and locked the door. It was all I could do not to burst into tears.

It felt like I was being haunted by my best friend.

I have no idea why this is happening. And by this, I mean my reaction to John’s twin. I don’t care if he looks like John — big deal.

However, I do care that I apparently can’t see him anymore without losing the ability to function as a proper adult.

I’m going to need to process and ponder this one. It’s gonna take me some time. Maybe a TV show will help me.

Have you ever been “haunted” by the memory of a best friend or lost friendship? How did you handle the haunting?

* Photo courtesy Toni Blay, Creative Commons.

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  • It seems to me that you have major “unfinished business” with John. Avoiding him hasn’t given you “closure.” There are festering wounds that need to be dealt with. As I read these posts, you guys have never had a “What went wrong?” conversation. I think it would be good — even important — for you, as difficult as it might be, to have that conversation in order not to keep reliving the pain.
    Maybe it will lead to some level of restored friendship (probably not as close as before), or maybe it will lead to an understanding good-bye. There could even be angry words from one of you or both. But I think that one way or another, it will enable you to stop pining over what is past.

    • Yeah, I would agree about the unfinished business. I actually have had one or two conversations with John about our growing apart but they never seem to go the way I want them to- meaning, I don’t think I have adequately made my thoughts clear. Another conversation would probably help- but it’s gonna take some courage that I don’t have at the moment. Thank you for the thoughts!

  • “I try to avoid talking to him, don’t follow him on any social media site available, and all around avoid him as a subject (typically)” This is exactly what’s happening to me right now. He’s set to move in February and it couldn’t be sooner. I have been journeying with him pretty deeply. The frustrating part for me is that he resembles all of what I want to be. When I’m around him I keep hoping I’ll become some version of him. It’s crazy to even say this out loud. I haven’t considered these thoughts till now. I think underneath that, the real message I carried (always?) is that I’m not enough. I’m not enough of a man, enough of a friend, enough of a follower of God. He’s never said those things to me. In fact he has only communicated the opposite. I’m lucky to have a lot of affirming men in my life. That’s the truth. And there’s something that happens to me when he affirms me, it’s like I can’t get enough, and when I don’t get it I question my value. What the hell is that??? It doesn’t feel like freedom. The truth is I need him to move away and the deep sadness I feel when I say that is palpable. I want this to be over. Man, so much there, just so much there. Thanks for the post.

  • Six months ago I lost a very good friend. He is still alive but we are not connected in anyway anybody. The grief is overwhelming..there are daily reminders of him and I think of him and pray for him often. I hope one day our friendships can be reconciled.

  • I understand. Once I messed up a friendship by my own unhealthy emotional dependence. After things fell apart I needed to avoid seeing my former friend simply because of being considerate to him. I forgave him but I suffered terrible grief almost daily during that year or so we were apart. After that I was able to go to him and apologize for the way I had been selfish, manipulative, and jealous. After a painful process there was a happy ending, but both of us had to exert a lot of effort. Like you, I had to cry my share of tears.

    • Thank you for sharing, Marshall. I do hope for a happy ending to all of this, but it does take a lot of effort on both ends. I just don’t know if either John or I are there yet sadly.

  • I’ve had recurring disparaging dreams of one friend from my past, though we were never of the “bestie” variety. That’s the closest thing to a “haunting” I’ve ever had, and I can’t imagine how much worse it would feel if this guy and I had indeed been best friends at one point. Thanks for being so raw in your sharing, Dean. Praying for reconciliation, and praying for fresh new starts all the same.

  • Ever since my best friend (maybe?) committed suicide in 2010, I’ve had dreams about him. Not very often, but maybe a couple times a year. And they’re always some of the most vivid, realistic dreams. And in them I often see my friend, alive and talking, and I remind him that he died and I wonder how it is that he’s alive now. He always answers casually like nothing’s out of the ordinary, and then the dream goes on as usual. And I hear his voice again and sometimes I put my head on his shoulder and we hug. And then I wake up and I just want to cry… but then I’m happy for the rest of the day because it was like I got to visit my old friend again.

  • Wow! What I’m seeing crop up and is also hitting me between the eyes as I read the comments, is “unhealthy emotional dependence”. Perhaps this is a key to relationships gone or going sour and something we need to constantly check ourselves on. These kind of dependencies seldom produce a balanced friendship and can often result in a tie that is in the end binding rather than freeing. Our best relationships should result in a sense of freedom and joy, rather than a binding and tieing. Is this making a bit of sense? I hope so. When we set up an unhealthy soul tie we really need to break it. Prayer is essential, in my opinion, to do this. Give over the tie to Jesus and ask Him to break it and re-build it in His love if it is meant to be, and to be able to let it go entirely without regrets if it is not meant to be in His plan for our lives.

  • This is an interesting post to follow up your first post…All the gut feelings and emotions are there over this lost relationship with your best friend. I agree that there may be some unfinished business you need to process, and not necessarily with your ex-best friend. With someone though…even doing it here at this blog with your friends ought to bring things to light and be helpful i’d think.
    Personally this post reminded me of two events. I had a best friend (girl) whose feeling turned romantic and when I didn’t reciprocate the romantic feelings, she just quit the friendship altogether. I went through such grief that I felt it for months. It was worse than death, because I would see her alive, but our relationship was dead. Much easier to mourn a loved one who is dead–it is much easier to accept that loss and come to grips with it than a broken relationship with someone you really truly love who has stopped loving you. PAIN! REALLY BAD PAIN AND SADNESS!
    The other thing this reminded me of was the same kind of knee-jerk reaction you expressed about needing to leave the room turn out the lights and be alone. I met someone who looked so much like my ex-same-sex lover, that it brought up all kinds of complicated gut feelings (not pleasant feelings at all!) I just hurt. I knew this other person was not the guy who used me sexually, but I was feeling all those negative emotions. I processed this pain with some friends and changed the message that I was telling myself and was able to clear the feelings and later to accept the guy and he became one of my good friends. It made me realize that I had all kinds of feelings from my past memories that I still needed to process, acknowledge and finally to release. I pray that you will be able to release this too Dean and find freedom in Christ from the pain that still haunts you.

  • I’m reading these posts backwards, which gives me a better perspective. If I’m correct, you wrote about the same person when you finally talked to him on the phone and told him how you’ve been feeling. I don’t know all of the details, but it reminds me of my pattern of attaching to my friends. I tend to become a bit obsessive and get really attached over time. Attachment is very difficult for me because I’m an intense person, and I get disappointed easily, have unrealistically high expectations and feel devastated when they’re not met. Additionally, there are friendships that have ended that I morn decades later. It never really gets better, I just think about it less over time, but when I do, it is just as intense. Sometimes I cry over the possibility of losing that person even though I haven’t. So, I rarely ever attach to anyone, and usually no more than one person at at time. That puts a lot of expectation on that person. I think I’m getting better though and I’m not nearly as codependent. Again, I’m not assuming this is your situation or tendency, but it reminded me of mine. I’m working on trying to attach to people more because it is very difficult to feel lovingly towards others or to receive their love for me.

  • Do you have any advice on what i should do? I have been dealing with this for almsot 2 years and don’t know what to do.

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