Monday, August 1, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do (humming Neil Sedaka is optional)

Breaking up sucks. There is no easy way to do it, receive it or process it.  Breaking up with a friend is often even more vague and difficult.  Infidelity and inability to commit are not the reasons and often, there is no one incident. 

Have you ever ended a friendship? I’m not talking about moving away where you kind of lose touch but continue to exchange holiday cards.  I’m talking about a complete end of any form of communication – nada, nil and nothing.  Some I’ve handled better than others.

I let a friendship go a very long time ago. I had become friends with her quickly and we ended up sharing a house.  She is what my sister would call an NGB – nice girl but……She made some really bad choices that put me in a situation where I would have to lie.  I look back and know that part of being a friend is accepting and respecting differences but sometimes – just sometimes – they are hard to move past. 

Another friendship that sort of melted away was likely mutual.  This friend was wildly needy and I was more than willing to be the sounding board, advice giver and word-smither.  This became exhausting on every level and I often dreaded the conversations. Now, to be fair, this was a good friend and a decent person. She is kind and we shared some really good times.  She made me think about a lot of things that years later have become more important to me. But, we haven’t had any type of communication in 3 years. She needed too much – and I had no patience left to give.

Still another just faded over time and geography. It happens and it hurts though no one is likely to blame. Sometimes, life just happens.

One lost friendship is more painful.  I was friends with her for almost 30 years.  There are many good times in our history and there was a time I would have considered her one of my closest friends.  I knew her family and she mine.  Funny, generous, and kind she also had a sarcastic wit that was often hurtful; an outspoken person, her opinions were presented as fact.  It seemed her world was black and white and I lived in shades of grey.  When I was young, it was easy to laugh but as I got older I found it harder to hear. Was I talked about in the same manner when it was someone else on the phone?  Now, don’t get me wrong – I did speak up and became distinctively less tolerant but would listen and just not provide the sought after response.  Then, my life changed. I was facing something completely unknown – scary and exciting, unexpected and unplanned – an amazingly happy accident.  I should not have been surprised after so many years – and I knew this person very very well – that her response was – well, typical.

So, in April 2004 we had what would be our last conversation. Shortly thereafter, the last email. I don’t think either of us thought it was ending but it did. Neither of us picked up the phone or wrote a note.  Major milestones have come and gone. I was touched when she sent a note of sympathy when my mother passed away almost two years ago.  I sent her one upon the death of her mother-in-law this past year.

Friendships are not always born of similarity and as a result can challenge our most basic beliefs.  When someone starts making choices that are so vastly different than anything you believe, it can test the best of friendships but for ones already tenuous at best, it may be the last straw.  I can honestly say that I miss my lost friends – they have all left their mark and taught me something.  I may not have learned the lesson right away but do believe I’ve made choices that reflect that experience.

My lost friend of 30 years? Today is her birthday. I sent her a note.

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