My friend Jessica (Yes, I have a friend named Jessica. I’m not speaking in the third person or removing myself from this sentiment) believes that friendship has “a reason and a season”. People come into your life when you need them or need to learn a lesson and when that need has been fulfilled, it’s perfectly okay to let those people go. After expressing a little paranoia that eventually my days would be numbered too, she clarified that there are people, very special people, who stay in your life forever. You just never know which category a person will fall into until it’s already happening.
I like that theory. I like the idea that there’s no pressure and that the friends you pick now don’t necessarily HAVE to be your best friends forever. As much as I like the idea of having a BFF, a lifelong best friend, I just can’t see it ever working for me. To hear me talk about my friends, you’d think that I’d moved around my entire life. In fact, I lived in the same house until I left for college. I’ve just been in a lot of different “places”. I know a lot of people, I’ve made my way through many different circles. Are all of these people my best friends? Absolutely not. Do I care about every single one of them and periodically think about them and wonder where they are? Yes.
Perhaps it’s a giant personality flaw on my end. Maybe it’s a sign of insecurity that I seek out people I KNOW I’ll leave eventually. Maybe I’m afraid of the commitment. Maybe I’m afraid that *I* won’t be interesting enough and they’ll leave me. Maybe I’m just in such a state of flux that I don’t know myself well enough to find people who will fit. Maybe I just grew up in a tiny town with all the same people and now I meet people and collect acquaintances just because I can.
The last couple years have been a huge whirl of friendships and heartbreak. Being a parent has made every feeling a little more raw for me. Love is so much more intense, but so is hurt. When somebody forgets about me or is thoughtless or is blatantly hurtful, it stabs my heart. I don’t want my children to see their mother so weak. I don’t want them to ever feel like this, like they don’t fit it. And so I move into survival mode. Fight or flight. Neither of which are particularly conducive to friendships. I admit that I have been at fault…there are a million ways that I could have handled situations differently. It’s a learning experience. Everything is.
Over the last year I’ve made the conscious decision to remove a few people from my life. Did it go down in a blaze of glory, screaming and crying or bitter purging letters? Nah. It was more of an eye-roll and the thought “wow, I don’t need this crap.” -I can see these people for what they are- In most cases, insecure. They make themselves feel better by pulling others down. I’ll admit, insecurity is one of my challenges. What an easy target I must have been. It’s wild when you remove yourself and you can actually SEE the same thing happening to someone else.
SO, for the most part, I’m light and happy and a lot less stressed. But every so often, I feel a little twinge of doubt. Was I too hard on her? Maybe I should try to mend bridges, reach out and reconnect. I KNOW that this isn’t a good idea. I KNOW that it would not be at all productive.
Does it sound like I was dating these people??? I guess it IS a bit like a break-up. A really bad, messy break-up. I started dating my husband in high school, so I missed out on all of this. Maybe if I’d dated more, and had more romantic break-ups, I’d know how to handle a sometimes bitter end of a friendship. I’d know that you DON’T go back to the boyfriend that makes you feel fat or ugly or inadaquate.
To be clear, I don’t have a string of friend break-ups behind me. A lot of times we just drift apart. I leave or they leave. Somebody gets a new job, somebody moves. We keep in touch by email or Facebook. And then we don’t. And then something happens…a birthday or a baby or a silly dream….and we reconnect. Maybe it’s briefly, maybe we stay in touch because we have something new in common (lately it’s been babies). You can’t force it. You just have to go with the reason….or the season.