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thinking about: losing friends

A new year always brings lots of… new feelings. It also tends to be a time of reflection, and a time where we look back at the year and see how we’ve grown and what you’ve been through.

This past year was obviously a difficult one, much like 2020 had been. Still a lot of isolation, mental exhaustion, death and struggle. I grew and gained last year, becoming new versions of myself and overcoming demons. With becoming new and more, and as you reflect, you realize how many people in your life have gone away.

Some, I lost to death. That’s devastating, of course, but inevitable and something you can learn to deal with in time. Some I chose to walk away from, because I realized that even a peripheral role in my life was more than they deserved. Some, though, I lost to the way we as humans often drift away from people who aren’t within arms reach. Friendships that were nearly as old as I am, disappearing so slowly that I didn’t see it until it was far too late; friendships that have been instrumental to becoming who I am. Friendships that I truly don’t know what happened to them, because they were always the kind that you could go 6 months and then pick up like nothing ever happened. But then one day you become the only one putting the effort in, and that’s when you realize that for now, it’s too far gone.

There’s a kind of mourning that comes with any loss- loss of a loved one to death, loss of a significant other, loss of a friendship, loss of a future you thought you would have. Enduring that mourning is really difficult, especially when you are pretty sure you’re the only one sad about it.

How do you cope with that? When it’s something you thought would be part of your life forever and ever- where does that go? When it’s a friendship you’ve always known and suddenly it’s gone- where do you focus all that love?

So of course, I’ve been thinking about this. One of my best friends- she’s been going through a breakup. So I've been giving her sisterly advice and being the shoulder to cry on here and there, and a lot of the things I've told her could also apply to what I've been going through with this realization. Let yourself feel the sadness, don’t hide from the feelings. Let yourself be mad, or hurt, or happy for them; or, all of the above. It can be any of these feelings, or maybe some others.

It’s important though to keep in mind (as I’ve told her) that how anyone treats us, how they perceive us, isn’t exactly our fault. The fact that someone decides to cheat on a wonderful, kind, loving, supportive and providing girlfriend for a literal trash bag- lol that’s not the girlfriend’s fault. The fact that friends would drift apart over time and space, is not necessarily someone’s fault. Life takes us in different directions, and that’s okay. When one of the parties involved makes a decision independent of the other party to cheat, or to stop texting and checking in, or to stop involving them in their lives- that is that person’s decision. It’s not our responsibility, and it’s not our fault.

Obviously, can there technically be contributing factors? Yeah, there can. The friend who decides to stop texting the other might not feel included in their life anymore, or might feel that they’ve grown apart. This isn’t something we should demonize them for, formaking a decision based on what they feel. But also, this is definitely something that could be solved with some honest and clear communication. So, there is that. It definitely goes both ways.

I think that going both ways (lol) is kind of part of the problem for me, though. In spite of my natural state as a hopeless romantic drowning in unrequited love, it is difficult for me to adjust for the fact that this person who once thought of me as an essential ingredient in their soup of life has changed tastebuds and doesn’t like my flavor anymore. I can want them to be happy always, but it hurts when I know I want them to want that for me back… but do they even care?

I can turn that off for most people, but some have just been too ingrained in my heart for me to let them go forever ya know?

And listen, I’ve been shocked by friend breakups before- once the girls in a group chat I was in just *left the chat* without telling me. I literally remember: it was like a weekday morning, I’m on my way to work, and I look at my chats and my friends are disappearing before my eyes. No warning, no reasons why. Nothing. Just gone. And this included two of my best friends at the time. I never got an explanation, either. I literally had not done one thing “wrong”, they just decided they didn’t want to be around me anymore. Fair enough, I guess, but what a shit way to do it.

Let’s pause for some tea: What I did find out later is that they had another group chat without me, which one of those two “best friends” had named something very exclusionary, that was def referencing me not being in that group. Still to this day, I can’t believe I was bullied in such a middle school way. We were 23 fucking years old. What the fuck. That shouldn’t be happening at that point in life.

It broke my heart, but honestly I moved on pretty quickly. They had left me out plenty before and I had strong friends to fall back on. Those were two I was able to let go of, and for all that I don’t necessarily wish ill on them, I also don’t wish them well. I just don’t really think of them at all lol.

ANYWAY, in remembering all of this and discussing the romantic breakup and reflecting on this drifting I've done from some good friends, it has just got me *thinking* about how often people go through this, and how i don’t think it’s talked about enough. It is totally valid to mourn this kind of loss, it’s fair to be sad or mad or just disappointed; and it should be something we normalize more. Truly, i don’t know for sure how I’m going to grieve this, how I’m going to cope with it. I think over time, it will come. With meditation and prayer, it will come. With realizing that I can be happy watching from afar, singing “go little rockstar”, and just hoping a little that they’re singing that back at me, it will come.

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