Sometimes it’s a sudden break. Other times it’s a more gradual retreat. In some circumstances, you are left with answers. Other times, you are left with nothing – just wounds that don’t heal because you don’t have the answers you need to seal the fissure once and for all.
Losing a friend is a terrible thing. It’s painful and can be an extremely traumatic thing to go through. One day, someone is in your life and the next they are suddenly gone.
I have felt the absence of an old friend of mine since she departed from my life. I don’t know why the pain still lingers for me. Sometimes I wonder if she ever feels the absence of me, and then I wonder to myself why it should matter. She’s chosen to not have me in her life.
There was a time when this friend was “one of my people.” Someone I trusted as extended family. Our families were close and we loved their children and she and her husband loved ours. I like to believe they still love our children, though it makes me sad that it’s been so long since they’ve seen each other that my children will no longer recognize them.
She was often sick, so I would try and sometimes cook meals for them. I wasn’t as good with the kids as she was but I am good in the kitchen and where I knew she could love Shaila, who she often watched for me, I could show my love for their family by cooking.
Perhaps she didn’t like my cooking?
It wouldn’t be so hard to just lose a friend and not have to see them anymore. But because of our overlapping circles of friends and because she is the current darling of the blogging world, I see something about her on my Facebook or Twitter feed a lot. And each time it happens, it feels like the wound opens a little more again.
We were friends for years before blogging became a part of either of our lives. But as her blogging took off exponentially, the distance between us grew. Eventually the friendship she displayed for her online community far exceeded the friendship she still had with me.
She has done some amazing things to empower women and to discuss some really wonderful topics. She also talks about forgiveness and kindness and loving your fellow women. I applaud all of that. What IS hard for me to swallow is trying to understand what I did that was so unforgivable, what I did that makes me unworthy of the kindness, love and acceptance she writes about for her readers.
There is a part of me that recognizes that I shouldn’t just be hurt. I’m maybe just a little mad too. She wasn’t always kind to me on her way up. But I never gave up on our friendship. And when I needed her most and asked her for support during one of my darkest times, she chose not to respond.
A part of me knows that I must move past this hurt and that I may never get the answers that I need. What I do hope is to regain some of my footing from this experience so that it doesn’t feel like a little knife wound to the chest every time someone relays a story about her to me, not realizing that I once knew her and counted her as one of my close friends.
While my situation may be harder to get over because of the constant reminders of her, it’s never easy to release the ties on a friendship. I think of each friendship as a series of Polaroid images, all linked together to encapsulate the fabric of your friendship. Cutting even one of those links out is hard for anyone, much less letting the whole thing go. That fabric that ties those grainy photos together is too fragile.
But sometimes, you just have to. LET IT GO. And you allow the pictures to fall to the ground. Because you have new pictures to take. Other relationships to focus on. Ones borne of mutual respect, love and true friendship.
So I’m letting it go. By writing this, I am making a concerted step to say, “I acknowledge this loss. And I am OK with it.” I am still confused by what I am letting go of on some level – whether I really lost a good friend or whether I misunderstood our friendship the whole time and there was really nothing left to lose. I think these are questions I have to accept I’ll never have answers for.
I hope that at the end of the day, if you have ever been in a situation like the one I am in, that you don’t let the rejection of your friendship define YOU in any way. Nobody deserves that power and in fact, if someone does that to you, they really don’t deserve much of your time and certainly not your respect. That, I have finally come to terms with. And finally, don’t let the shadow of this experience make you blind to the people you DO have in your life who choose to stick around every day because they accept you for who you are.
In this case, my loss was also a gain. I finally realize how lucky I am to have authentic people in my life who DO show up. Not just for their blog readers, but for me. They show up on sunny and stormy days. They show up when I ask for help, even when asking is really hard, and they show up because that’s just what real friends do.
“Don’t be afraid of change. You may end up losing something good, but you will probably end up gaining something better.”