I remember being a child and transitioning from elementary school like it was yesterday. In our district, a new middle school had been built, so some of the kids I had known for 6 years went to one school and the rest went to another. When we found each other again in high school, we tried to be friends and even now, 15 years later, we’re friends on Facebook and chat here and there. But, things just never were the same. Inside jokes didn’t have the same meaning, plans were made separately, and conversations ended with incomplete sentences that trailed off into the awkwardness that had replaced our kindred-spirited giggles only years before.
As I grew older, the same thing happened with friends, and even family, with whom I had known my entire life – my best friend became a cheerleader and I was an artist. We had little time for each other and, even though we greeted each other with big hugs, our conversations started revolving around the same handful of stories and ‘What have you been up to?’.
It happens – people grow, change, and evolve. It’s a part of the human experience.
This has been an incredibly weird year for me. I spent the first half of the year busting tush, full of energy, rallying to meet my great big goal of going to California for Peace Leadership Training and throwing myself into all things peace, leadership, and public speaking. While doing that, I was also in school, raising children, running an Etsy, and finding myself doing more social media marketing than I ever cared to do. I was happy – elated, really – but I felt things changing.
I started talking less and feeling more. I started expressing less and thinking more. I discovered, and fell in love with, the introverted side of myself. I started growing closer to friends with whom I never expected to have great friendships (like, my incredible photographer, Amanda Lovelace and a handful of beautiful souls with whom I share a love of peace and art). I started finding myself deeply rooted in new ideas, new appreciation, and overcoming new barriers. I watched eight of my close friends graduate college and head off into different jobs, with different groups of friends, or start families of their own, as I developed deeper connections with the people I had around me. I, and so many of my friends around me, were (and still are) going through major life changes – as often happens when your friends are mostly college students.
In some instances, it just simply became obvious that we weren’t the same people and the friendship/relationship wasn’t going to recover to its former glory. For the most part, they were moving on to great things and reaching their dreams, just as I have been doing, but our dreams were figuratively taking us to opposite ends of the planet.
Things like that? They hurt, a bit. Sometimes, they hurt a lot. People start to develop resentment and lash out at each other. People start to forget what they love about each other and focus only on the bad. It can get ugly.
Me? I don’t like ugly. So, I cut ties – ciao, beautiful – for no reason other than I simply want to still be able to smile when I think of them. I wanted to walk away with years of memories before the hatefulness and resentment plastered the beautiful canvas we had painted together in such a way that it couldn’t be fixed. I like that canvas, just how it is.
So when, months later, I get (supposedly well intended?) forwarded messages and copied Facebook statuses where people I loved are happy to see me go – thrilled they’ve dropped the dead weight that they have now convinced themselves I hung over them for so many years and can do great things because I’m not holding them back….that’s heartbreaking.
Because, I know better. I know that’s just the hurt from the reality that we really just grew separately – the stinging realization that we no longer were the great match we once were. I know how much love there was embedded in every fiber of our friendship. I remember not being able to go a day without checking in with each other. I remember being the person they turned to, on a near daily basis, with an exciting story, or in need of a good cry. I remember treating them likewise. I don’t remember negativity – I remember friendship, and being there for each other because, at the time, we were exactly what each other needed.
I remember. I can be happy with that. I will forever have those amazingly beautiful chapters in the novel that will become my entire existence. And, I will have that canvas hanging right on the wall of my studio, reminding me exactly how I got to where I am.
You can find this post over at Motivational Monday on A Life in Balance!