People don’t lose friends. Friends are not small change or iPhones. Friends are people, and unless their loss is literal, like you were separated in a deep forest, you do not lose a person. Not even through death. I believe that.
Though I make friends easily, my close friends are chosen with care. Recently, a few things have happened both to myself and to my friends, that have caused us to end actual or potential friendships. I’ve been thinking a lot, trying to set things right in my own mind.
So I’ve been writing letters.
One was painful to write: a termination of a friendship with someone to whom I had been close. In the end, we were emotionally in different places within the friendship and the uneven ground felt unfair for both of us. I hope that I’ve done the right thing. It definitely feels as though I have, hard as it was. The breakdown began when she told me she needed space from me- I have since had time to collect my thoughts and recognised that maybe that space should be permanent.
The other was searching. A long time ago, a very close friend of mine stopped speaking to me, all of a sudden when we were due to meet one day. She never told me why, or even hinted at it. That hurt a lot, and though she apologised and re-added me on Facebook, we never became close again. I have written her a letter asking what went wrong, whether there was anything that I could have done or said differently to preserve what I feel was one of the closest friendships I have ever had.
I’ve received similar messages to the first one. About a year ago, someone I considered a close friend told me that she couldn’t handle being my friend at that time, that my behaviour had affected her in certain ways that made friendship at least temporarily impossible. I have to say I was beyond hurt, and this made me think twice about the letter that I just sent. But at certain distances, where face-to-face speech is not possible, sometimes a message is the only, or the safest, way. Or the easiest- I do worry that what I have done is selfish, an avoidance of a real conversation. A coward’s way out of a relationship that meant something. But when I think back about the friend who did it to me, I don’t feel that she was cowardly. I think she needed to do what she did at the time, and maybe it was brave.
I hope so.
Now I will be drafting letters to people I care about, who are still a part of my life. As I maintain, people need to be told when they’re doing something right and you love them, as much as when they’re doing something wrong and need to change it.
People are special. I don’t hold their worth lightly and I definitely don’t “lose” them… but sometimes I distance myself from them, because friendships can be as harmful as helpful when they’re out of balance, off-kilter, impossible to maintain.