I recently had a friend breakup. It's been one of the hardest breakups I've had. You never expect to get so attached to people, but then when you do, you don't realize it until it's over. In my case, I felt like I had been protecting myself so much from romantic relationships. I thought that by investing myself in my friends for a while, I would be "safe." The truth is that there may always be someone to show you that you've left yourself a little too open.
Our friendship dated back 19 years in the course of two cities. When I look back, we've been there for each other a lot, especially after we began living in the same city again. It was nice to find our maturing friendship in a new chapter. She had always been a thoughtful and considerate person. Things started to change between us after a few years and I couldn't figure out what was happening. I wanted to believe it was just me. Maybe we had different goals and wanted two different directions in life. I didn't want to accept we were slowly growing apart.
There are often so many situations you can work through when you love someone. In friendships, you have to accept people for who they are but you don't have to accept situations that put you in a weird space. There were situations in her life that were starting to put a strain on our friendship. There was a lot of awkwardness coming from her partner. At first I assumed he thought I was trying to compete with him, but I then realized she had designed it this way by discussing one to the other. I always felt like I knew too much and it was really hard not to form an opinion of him based on what she told me. I also felt she was becoming less considerate of our friendship and time. I felt there were situations which were threatening to her well-being, which made it more difficult for me to stand by and take part of. I felt a lot of pressure she had to deal with from all angles and as much as I wanted to be there for her, the load got too heavy. There was a lot I didn't understand as far as why she was doing things and I didn't want to keep questioning her about how she managed her life decisions and how our friendship was being affected. I felt suffocated and slowly started to back off from her.
There was already tension building within our friendship so it only took one more situation to really put me over. She celebrated a major life event without me and after that I couldn't see her the same. I guess we weren't as close as I thought. I tried to recognize where I might have gone wrong or maybe that I was being selfish, but the more I tried to sit with the idea, the more I realized this person's role in my life had reached its close. I know it sounds so drastic, but I couldn't shake the feeling that she made a rush decision which compromised so much of what I thought she stood for over the years. It's hard to learn that someone you found yourself invested in really wasn't that invested in you.
I had overlooked some of my instincts for many years. That's not to say I regret the friendship...I think in any relationship it's good to acknowledge your part and to recognize there were good parts to it. I still love my friend very much. I have just decided that at this stage in my life I can still love her from a distance without having to compromise my own dignity and worth. There was a time I would do anything for my friend and vice-versa, but you never want to feel so obligated to someone you start to fall short with yourself. My biggest realization was acknowledging that things had changed. Maybe she just didn't see me the same way I saw her and that's OK, but that's no reason for me to question my own validity in our friendship. I'm learning, you can always make adjustments in your relationships, but when you realize it starts to affect your value in the relationship, it's time to let go. In closing, I leave you with two quotes that have been very valuable to me along this journey. I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.
"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." —Bob Marley
"Relationships based on obligation lack dignity." —Wayne Dyer