Saturday, February 8, 2014

Letting go & the loss of old friendships

Last year, I lost two of my long-time friendships. By lost, I mean we grew apart to an unfathomable distance that I know it will never be the same again. 

One was a childhood friend, whom I had been friends with for twenty years. The other, was a college friend, who I had been friends with for 10 years. Both, I was friends with as a young girl - before I met my husband and before I had children. They watched me become a woman.

The process of losing a deep friendship is much like a mourning - it is a loss, a void, and a failure in some sense. It is waking up suddenly one day, and realizing that a once important friendship had slowly, and gradually slipped away, like a ghost. Then you think, what happened? How did it get to this point? How did this person turn into a complete stranger? Is there something I could have said/did? I think it is harder for women to lose friendships, as we are more emotional creatures and tend to look too deeply into things. There is something about speaking to a woman friend - it's like they understand you, on a deeper level. The connection is profound. It's like a marriage, in a sense.

It was gradual with one of my friends - the distance, the different lifestyles - suddenly, there was just nothing in common any more. There was just nothing to talk about...

With the other friend - it was harder. I felt like she was the only one of my single friends who could comprehend my responsibilities as a mother, and she reminded me so much of myself before I was married. But then, we had a series' of  unfortunate petty arguments in which words were said that can never be taken back. She lashed out at me, very rudely and in a way that was not necessary. Not just once, but repeatedly - three or four times. And suddenly, I just couldn't look at her the same way again. Maybe it was her way of subconsciously ending the friendship. That friendship was very difficult for me to lose. This friend always crosses my mind from time to time. I want to reach out, but then I don't. I don't want to be disrespected again - and out of respect for myself - I literally can't go there...

Yesterday, I got a chance to watch some TV, and something about what I was watching reminded me of her. Something a character said. And I just started to feel really sad - for the first time, I felt the loss of her friendship. Maybe it was my hormones, or maybe it was the isolation I felt being cooped up in the house after two weeks of having the flu. My daughter was playing with her toys at my feet, and I realized I had not seen my friend for nearly a year. And I thought how different my daughter was, how grown up she was - and how different I was, and how grown up I've become...and all the things that happened in our respective lives that we missed. I felt the deep absence of this friendship. I realized it was really over, and it felt so final.

Someone once told me the biggest threat to friendships is change - changing priorities, lifestyles, interests...Not changing together, but changing and growing in separate directions...

I never like to burn bridges with people - after all, things change and our paths may cross again. Maybe these friends will get married and have children and have more in common with me someday. But I know in my heart it's over, in a permanent sense - and it's time to let it go...that phase of my life has ended now. People will come and go, and it's time for me to build new friendships, maintain the positive friendships - and also, keep investing in my self, in the meantime.

Last night, after being enveloped by a deep sadness for most of the day, I sat down and thought about it - why was it so hard for me to let this friendship go? Why did this one hit me so hard?  

And then, I had an "aha!" moment...I realized that this friendship symbolized something bigger to me...and that was a loss of my former self, my younger self - before I had a husband and children. You see, she reminded me of myself, before I became a wife and a mother - and that's what I didn't want to let go. Essentially, it didn't have much to do with her as a person - rather, my perception of her, and what she symbolized for me. She symbolized who I was before I had my own family. I was mourning the loss of my former self.

And then, I released it...I let it go...

It's all about moving forward, after all... I can't keep hanging on to things that are long gone.

And friends? 
Well, they come and go...that's just life...


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20 comments

  1. A post full of feelings-i loved it .

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    1. Thanks Indu.....it was a hard one for me to write...but glad I did.

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  2. I have lost some really good and old friends.... Somehow your theory convinces me as well....

    Loved your blog. Following you henceforth!

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    1. Thanks Neha, thanks for reading & welcome!

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  3. Wait til you get to 40.
    (Sorry if that sounds a bit motherly)
    That's the age when many friends 'hit bottom' with unresolved psychological issues, hidden alcohol & drug abuse, and continuous poor financial choices.
    It all comes 'out' & it ain't pretty.
    UGH!
    It was a real shocker for me.

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    1. God, I can only imagine! Lot of my old friends have issues....I'm so over it! Glad to be rid of them before 30....I'm sure it only gets worse with age...

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  4. Hi Alexandra, thank you for waking me up and give me an 'aha' - the answer I couldn't find why this distance keeping me away from my friends, it was like I was out of the circle so out of mind.
    Moving out of my home country to follow my husband is a massive change, it has affected me in a lot of ways, and frankly speaking I am now in the stage that you called mourning old friendship, old days, old career. And I been asking myself why and why but no proper answer. Thanks for such a refreshing sharing! Loving your blog and adoring Maya!

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    1. Thanks so much Lenny! I'm sorry to hear you are going through it too...it is really hard. Especially moving abroad must make it even more difficult :(
      In times like these, our husbands and families become our best friends until we can make new women friendships.

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  5. Hi Alexandra,

    I'm really sorry to hear you lost long-time friends. I can only imagine how difficult that must've been.

    I have had to give up friends too, but they were not long time so I didn't feel too sad when the actual break happened. However, I can really relate to what you wrote, about feeling a sense of loss when that lost friend sometimes comes to mind.

    It gets better with time though. :) Good to read a such heartfelt post.

    Take care..
    ~K

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  6. sometimes we move on as life does. loved the post.

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  7. Perhaps you and your friend will find each other again in the future...sometimes it happens, you lose contact and then reconnect when you both understand each other better. Love your post.

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    1. I hope so....friends always hold a special place in our heart...

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  8. love the way you write, been following your blog from sometime and finally commenting, I happy that this post made me realise that some friendships are not meant to be long-term or they come in our life at some point of our life and shape us as a person and go away, I don't feel the same connection with few of my friends who I had a great connection at some point in my life but now I guess they and I have moved on ,our priorities in life has changed sigh

    one more thing, I am a south Indian (telugu speaking) married to an Iyengar (tamil speaking) this one we are similar I guess.

    Take care

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    1. Thanks for reading & commenting!
      I so agree, so very well said about some friendships are not meant to be long term. Like they say "people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime"...
      You are just like my MIL - she is a telugu married to a Tamilian :) So you are also in an intercultural marriage too then!
      I find in our family, the Telugu side to be more jolly and fun-loving, our Tamil side is more formal, devout and conservative. Lots of differences between both although both are South Indian!

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  9. Beautiful post, Alex.
    It made me think back a couple of years, friends who I thought would be life long friends are now complete strangers, both of us growing out of each other.

    It is such a hard concept to get our heads around, I feel that there will always be a small place of them in our hearts but the lessons we learnt and the good times we shared are now over.

    Somethings are best being only temporary.

    Lots of love

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    1. Yes, it is hard, when people grow in opposite directions - but inevitable almost! I never thought such relationships would be temporary but now I am accepting that they are, and appreciating it for what it was.
      xo

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  10. I thought it was only me who lost the good friends. I call it friendship break up and it is very hard. I always think it was me and try to see if I could do something to fix it but I realised later that they were equally or more response for us to be strangers. I had time I used to mourn our relationship and be sad but now I have learned to let go. If they don’t want to be part of my life, I can’t hold them.

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    1. OMG I am the exact same way! I do that too, I always think it is my fault, maybe I said something wrong, I need to make an effort....when I just need to let it go naturally. It is really hard, you miss them, you know?

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