Letting Go, Letting In

Recently, mid-week insomnia led me to my computer to write on something more personal and that which has sat in my heart and my Drafts for months. Truthfully, I have been mulling over this particular topic as a post for so long I can’t remember when it actually germinated.

I’ll start with this:

If you Google “friendship,” you come up with a ton of photos with inspirational quotes on them. Here is one such quote:

A Friend

It’s a really nice sentiment–at least I tend to favor this particular one.

Lately, I have begun to question whether I’ve ever had that kind of friendship in another person who wasn’t a significant other. I read and hear all the time about friends who are as close as siblings, who can be their total messy selves with one another, and I think, “What must that be like?”

My recent experiences with certain friendships have bestowed upon me a few layers of cynicism–several more than I care for. That cynicism rendered me unsure of what a “real” friend is supposed to be or do for someone. I began to believe that the notions I’ve held somewhere in my mind, perhaps some might call them fantasies, created a set of ideals to which no one can be upheld. As I continued to find myself healing from some wound or another, I began asking myself, “What was my part in all this?” lest I completely victimize myself and throw a pity party to which no one would want to come, not even me.

I have been fortunate to have had a handful of friendships with people whom I thought would be by my side for a lifetime. It just turns out that those lifetimes were much more quantifiable. They have all since faded from active existence in one way or another and while I’m okay with that now, it has taken me a while to grasp the lessons from each and be at peace about their current stasis.

Grieving a friendship has its own peculiar flavor for each particular person, I find.

In one instance, I lost one of the closest friends I had in the world. My heart was broken for a very long time. I dreamt about this friend and our relationship on a regular basis for years. I would cry at random intervals. My soul ached for some kind of closure. Eventually, we were able to put some things to rest after what felt like an era had passed, though the damage that had been done affected the friendship permanently. The grieving dreams have ceased but occasionally, I have a happy one and I reflect on the friendship and the person with nostalgia and tenderness.

In another, the friendship simply faded away of its own accord. We didn’t have anything in common anymore, despite being long-time childhood friends. At least from my perspective, it felt mutual. No words were ever exchanged, no acknowledgement of the end of the friendship occurred. It was a natural drift. Because that drift happened when I was in my late teens, it turned out to be easier to accept the gift of that person in my life for a specific period of time and move on.

Most recently, a friendship of mine ended on such a strange and abrupt note that I still have to remind myself of it. This person was a part of my life for close to twenty years, though the last three to four were plagued with issues that we attempted to work out. Suddenly, though, I had to shift my thinking from present tense to the past. The loss hurt primarily because I had believed we were making progress at finding our way back to the foundation of the friendship to reclaim what once was lost. Alas, the falsehood of this belief revealed itself, and I was left to make sense of the sudden rejection. What struck me most was that I did not wail or fall to pieces for this relationship that disintegrated into nothingness with a singular piece of correspondence. All of my anger, grief, and a multitude of other (caring) feelings for this person had already come and gone over the course of several years. Poof! I simply had to reconcile that the end had come without my knowing it; until she told me, that is.

There will always be a part of me who wants to go back and pick things apart, convince myself that if I can find out where things went wrong, or apologize just one more time for my role in the mess, that the friendship has a chance.

Old habits die hard.

And while I muse on these heretofore vital friends and relationships, I continually remind myself that letting go of something means I also have room to let something–or someone–in. The journey continues, and who knows whom I’ll pick up on the way?

Maybe they’re already here.

Maybe they’d like to learn a new song.

I know I would.