There has been a recent dissolution of a friendship in my life. A lifelong friend. I’m in the middle of processing the loss. I am confused, angry and hurt. This dissolution began roughly one year ago with an email she wrote to me listing off my many flaws as a friend. Since then I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the nature of friendship. What is it? What does it mean to me? What do I value the most in a friend?
I’ve looked closely at my current friendships and seen how some of them have grown and thrived in the last five years of sobriety and trying to get my shit together. Other friendships, in this time, have essentially died on the vine.
I have a big part in that. I know this. The truth is, I spent a few years retreating from the people close to me. I quit drinking and spent the first year feeling small and weak and scared. I went to parties and left after five minutes. I struggled to find out how to be social without getting fucked up. I found solace in other sober people. After I started to learn how to be sober, I then had to learn how to just be myself. I realized I didn’t know who the fuck that was.
I felt alienated from a lot of people who I had been close to, including my husband. I began hiding. I wasn’t drinking, but I was feeling like doing anything else that would distract me from my life, from my problems. I stopped sharing things with people and all I wanted to project was that I was fine so that they wouldn’t ask me anything deeper about how I was doing.
This friendship that has just fallen apart has done so for many reasons. I see what I have done to contribute. I also see clearly how her attitude, behavior and perception of me has destroyed her love for me. She doesn’t know me anymore because I stopped telling her. And instead of trying to dig deeper and find out who I’ve become or what I’ve gone through she has decided to write me off.
It’s a strange way to look at friendship. The people whom I love the most, that I feel the closest to, the thing I value the most with all of them is knowing that I don’t ever have to be scared of what they think of me. The nature of friendship is that someone loves you at your worst. They forgive your indiscretions. They acknowledge your flaws but still hold you close. If you’re spending your time keeping the score and judging how someone lives their lives then I would question how much you value that person in your life.
I have made so many mistakes in my life. With love, with friends, with myself. I have lost friends in the past because I was too busy thinking about how I thought they should be, instead of loving them for how they are. If nothing else, in the last five years, I have learned that loving people unconditionally is the best way to love them. I am so grateful for the people I have in my life at this time who have seen all my ugly shit and still want to know me.
I feel dejected and shitty about losing someone I loved for so long. I feel indignant that I haven’t been given a proper chance to redeem myself or work any of it out. Seems she does not want that. I also feel bad about other friendships that have fallen to the wayside and faded over time. But that is how things go. I guess the truth is if you want to be in someone’s life then you are.
I am mourning the loss of this friend and the loss of others who I am no longer close with. But as someone getting near the age of forty, I know all of this is inevitable. You look at the pictures over the last twenty years of your life and try to count how many of those people you still talk to on a regular basis. And I don’t mean some lame Facebook comments or “likes” on pictures. I mean, really talk to them. I bet it’s not that many.
Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. God, is this what getting old is going to be like? Constant reflection on love and loss? I don’t know if I am prepared for this level of introspection.
Thanks for reading.