Friendships are for a season. When the season’s over, you’ve got to let go and enter into the next with the people there to accompany you on that part of your life journey. But this is really hard to do, especially if you’ve grown up thinking that friends are forever. If you think about it though, you’ll see that this saying doesn’t always hold true. How can friends be forever when your life is not forever static? As you go through changes and transitions in life, your friendships have to adjust to work with your new situation. Sometimes, this means that they’ll end. Not necessarily in an anger-provoked rupture or in a dramatic, movie like fashion. Usually, it is a slower death process. You no longer talk as much, you have fewer things to say when you do talk, your paths seem to grow more and more divergent until all you have left are comforting memories of a life you once shared alongside the not so comfortable realisation that your current lives are anything but. Then you’re essentially left playing the roles of people who used to share something deep but no longer do; of people who used to be friends in all senses of the word but no longer are. You’ve become people that used to know each other. Used to being the operative words in that sentence. Your faces are familiar, your habits are familiar but at the core, something (or many things) has changed. You are no longer the same people and the easy connection that you took for granted is gone.
The type of loss I find saddest is the unexpected one: the kind that leaves you feeling like you just had the rug pulled from beneath your feet. You thought or assumed that everything was normal between you, that you were still each other’s top supporters and so, you held back on forging new friendships. You thought you had these friendships all sewn up and then, one day, you realise that they’re gone. What you thought you had was an apparition, your mind holding on to memories and expanding them to fit the present but when you examine the bonds you thought existed, you find nothing. And now you’re left all alone, regretting missed opportunities to move on. Opportunities that are nowhere to be found at the moment you need them most.
What to do?
What do you do when you realise that you can never go back to the life you had with these persons you loved and perhaps still love deeply? You can try to deny that things have changed but eventually you’ll have to admit the truth. If you’re like me you might cry a lot, mourn the end of the friendship as you knew it. And maybe through the fog of tears, you might come to think that it’s not as terrible a development as it seems. In the time that friendship was dying, life was moving on. You might already, without consciously trying, have built something else to replace it. You might realise that parts of you that no one ever knew existed flourished whilst you were out of the influence of these old friendships. You might like the new you better. So you find it easier to say goodbye and move on.
It doesn’t mean that you never speak to these persons again. What it does mean is that you have a sense of clarity about the actual state of your relationship. Where once they might have been your go-to-call at 1am for a sob session when someone broke your heart, now they are a once every few months coffee/lunch date. You also have a new sense of freedom. Freedom to try things you’d always refrained from because they were not really interested. But there’s fear too and that’s a powerful one. It’s the fear that makes you wonder whether you should hang on (even when you know you shouldn’t) because you worry that you’ll never connect with new people the way you did with the old ones. You worry that your friendships and relationships will not be as profound as those ones were. Perhaps this will all turn out to be true but somehow, you’ll live through it and come out the other end. Because you’re stronger than even you think.