I don’t know about you, but I have had several friendships throughout my life that have not stood the test of time.
There was my middle school best friend, whom I distanced myself from in high school because I felt like we had grown apart and she wasn’t very “cool” (spoiler alert: I wasn’t either) and I wanted to fit in more with everyone else (Another spoiler alert: I didn’t).
There were my college friends, who I went to classes with and partied with, and even took a 24 hour no stops road trip to Texas with for spring break, who I just never kept in touch with after graduation day besides the occasional Facebook like and/or comment.
There was my friend I met online (ah yes, the none-app precursor to Bumble BFF), and who I connected with easily. She was great, but she eventually decided that her energies were not enough to put into our friendship and her other life responsibilities and relationships (a journey that I’ve blogged about here). Since that post, we’ve actually established a more distant, but still nice, Instagram friendship after she read my post and we talked things through more in depth.
I have recently, however, have had the unprecedented experience of having someone state to me directly that they no longer wished to continue their friendship with me.
Which, to be frank, pissed me off and threw me in an emotional state of self-righteous indignation. Because in my mind, if someone didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, this must mean that I am a bad person or I’ve done something unforgivable, and I knew that this wasn’t the case.
This clean friendship break came as a result of political disagreement in the height of the George Floyd aftermath and Black Lives Matter Movement. I would hope that anyone who knows me in person knows that I do not condone any suppression of anyone based on anything, and I believe that the systems we have in place are deeply flawed and need a complete overhaul. There’s no question that there are gross injustices happening everywhere on both a personal and systematic level.
However, this particular friend and I disagreed on how exactly this revamping should be accomplished. We had several text conversations about this that reached somewhat heated levels, but were quickly de-escalated, so I felt good about our abilities to disagree yet still remain civil. However, during one conversation in a group chat with her and another friend, she abruptly ended things with both of us due to (as far as I can tell) our differing views.
This made me immensely pissed off, because I felt that A) she was judging me unfairly and B) she didn’t even give us the courtesy of discussing things in person. I tempered my anger in my responses, however, and messaged her privately to try and resolve things. When that didn’t work, I gave her a day to cool off and then messaged her again, reiterating how I placed a great deal of importance on my friendships and would hate for ours to be lost.
She didn’t respond. So, at that point, I effectively washed my hands of that friendship and tried moving forward.
While I wanted to (and to be honest, did for a hot minute) heap all of the blame on her shoulders and go on and on about what a shitty friend she is, how close-minded, etc, etc, I am now trying to take the higher path and allow her the grace to choose what she feels is best for her own life without any pushback from me.
At the end of the day, I have no idea what pushed her to end the friendship so abruptly. Perhaps there have been things that I have done that she’s never brought up to me. Perhaps she really does feel that strongly about the political issue that led to our demise. Perhaps she simply felt that the relationship had run its course and was taking the easy way out.
Whatever the reason, it brings me peace to know that it was not my decision to make. She is perfectly capable and fully within her rights to continue or sever any relationships that she so chooses, and I don’t need to feel one bit of guilt or shame for finding myself on the chopping block.
So often, we cage ourselves in with guilt and shame over the activities of others, when really, the only thing we can control is our own actions. If upon reflection we realize that there are things we can change, awesome! We have gleaned a valuable life lesson. If we know we were our best selves for the entire experience and there was no visible reason for the action of that other person, awesome! We know that they are on their own journey that has nothing to do with us.
At the end of the day, friendship is not just a gift that we give to others freely, but an emotional investment in a symbiotic relationship that enriches both lives. If one person stops investing, it ceases to become mutually beneficial, and is instead just a drain on our resources.
The end of anything, especially a relationship of any kind, is painful, even if you initiated it. And if you didn’t, then that pain comes along with self-doubt, anger, and a whole other host of negative emotions that can drown you if you’re not careful. But at the end of the day, you have to remember that everyone is on their own journey, and they are allowed to make choices that they feel are right for them, even if it sucks for you. And the glorious thing about realizing that is the revelation that this applies to you, too!
So, while I am a bit annoyed at my middle school self for giving up on a potentially life long friendship, and I am hurt that my adult friend felt like her life was better without me in it, ultimately, I am still on my own path of self fulfilment, emotinoal growth, and spiritual enrichment where I can choose to let all of these experiences make me, or break me.
I, for one, will always choose make.