Friday, December 23, 2016

Learn to Let Go: When a Friendship Ends, You Don't Need Closure to Move On

Many years ago I lost a very good friend. We had been friends for nearly two decades until she stopped talking to me. It was a slow process. Our contact began to dwindle, and I found that I was the only one keeping the friendship alive. One day, she stopped returning my calls. She stopped responding to my emails. 

She just stopped, and it drove me insane. Why? Why did my best friend stop talking to me? I couldn’t figure it out, and eventually, I looked her up, found out where she was currently living, and went to see her. I hoped to get some answers. She was like a sister to me, and losing her friendship was like a death. 

When she saw who was at the door, her eyes got big and she backed up as though I had the plague. She let me talk to her for about 30 minutes. And when I asked why she no longer wanted to speak to me, she said, “As time went on, I noticed your behavior had become increasingly inappropriate.” 

“Why didn’t you talk to me about it?”

“I tried. You didn’t listen to me.” 

After I left, I thought about it. Had she tried to tell me? I could only think of one or two times she might have mentioned something I’d done that she wasn’t happy with. But I honestly could not recall her sitting down with me and saying, “Hey, Lil. I’m concerned about some things. Let’s talk about it.” 

The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I went home and cried for days, teetering between absolute catatonia and raving anger in which I yelled at my family for no reason. I was inconsolable. I felt betrayed. I’d seen her through hell and high water. 

Twenty years from junior high to adulthood, I’d remained by her side as she chased after men, crying about how the one-night-stands wouldn’t call her back, holding her hair back as she vomited into the toilet after drinking too much. I even drove her several hundred miles just to see her “soul mate” so she could try to convince him not to marry a woman she hated. She failed, and the man she pined for got married and had several children with her. 

And yet, I’d been deemed not good enough for her. The irony! 

Ten years went by and the pain and anger faded. I no longer felt like I needed a better answer than “increasingly inappropriate.” And I came to realize something one day when I found an old picture of us together: I didn’t need a reason. I’d moved on. She’d moved on. My life was happy and I didn’t need her in it to make it better. 

It was like looking back on a breakup with an ex-boyfriend, in a way. She was never obligated to give me a reason to stop being friends with me. All she owed me was a “Hey, I think this friendship isn’t working out anymore. I’ve outgrown it.” And she gave me that, in a sense, but it took me a long time to accept it. 

The same holds true with intimate relationships. If someone decides they no longer want to be with you, they really don’t owe you any reason other than, “I want to break up.” 

Don’t they owe you something


Having my former friend tell me I was “inappropriate” didn’t help me at all. I looked at my past behavior through the filter of my own experience and couldn't see what she saw. Likewise, if your ex told you that he or she thought you were too excitable, you might not understand how they came to that conclusion. Asking for specific examples wouldn’t help, either because, let’s face it. If you get excited easily, it’s just part of who you are. 

Do you really want to have a relationship (platonic OR intimate) with someone who can’t accept you for who you are? If only you could fix the things that are “wrong” with you, would it make you truly happy? Or would you feel like you’d had to change the very core of your being just to make one person happy? 

Everyone has their flaws. Obviously, though, if you find yourself losing friends left and right, then it’s probably time to take inventory into your actions and find out why your friends are dumping you. And if that’s the case, it might be worthwhile to work on making yourself a better person, but NOT if it means you have to change your whole personality. 

I know a guy who can be very annoying. He didn’t have many friends in school, and always seemed to blame others for his problems. He has a sense of humor that most people just don’t get. He’s good-hearted, and I know he means well, but I can only take him in small doses. Almost everyone I know feels the same way about him. 

But guess what? He’s been happily married to a woman who adores him for more than a decade. She’s a strong woman, and knows how to handle him. And he adores her right back. 

My point here is, that even if every one of your friends finds you annoying, there is someone out there who will love you no matter what. 

So, stop worrying about why your ex-lover or ex-friend won’t tell you why they don’t want to be with you anymore. It’s not important. Cry, mourn, and go through the grieving process. Maybe try to view the relationship's end from their perspective. 

Eventually, you’ll get back up and move on. You’ll find friends and lovers who will accept you wholeheartedly…people who will love and cherish you no matter what. 

Go out and find those people. 

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