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Farewell to a Friendship

April 13, 2018

separating hands

Three times in my adult life I have made the painful, difficult decision to end a long term close (I had thought) friendship.  There is fault on both sides, but particularly with regard to the last one which came to a head last year, it reached the point where I came to realise not only had it been toxic for some time for me but that I was a toxic presence in my former friend’s (hereafter FF) life.  It was thanks to the information received from mutual friends that I realised the toxicity was reciprocated.

I had tried very hard to try speak about the problems with my FF, to come to a solution, only to be blocked in every attempt.  Texts were stopped, pages were blocked, conversations started by both of us were ended by my FF sometimes mid-flow.  I am sure my FF would say the same.  In every situation there is grey, and in the slow-burn ending of a previously very close friendship, there will be more grey than anything else.  I am trying not to blame, and this is a difficult process.  We are both responsible, and for the sake of my mental health, I have to accept there will be no closure, no understanding, no peaceful truce or clear cut-off.  I will never be able to be understood.

This is only the third time in my life I have made myself take a final decision, and I have been on the planet for nearly 50 years.  Even then in the latter case I only took the decision because everything came to a head as a result of a conversation with a mutual friend; it could have been a situation that went on for a far longer time to the detriment of us both.

The previous friendships ended when I realised that neither person actually knew who I was as a person, despite our long and deep conversations over many years.  Their understanding of me was based on a misconceived and false image that they had projected onto me.  I did not recognise the person they assumed I was.  I even checked this out with other friends, so confused was I by this massive misunderstanding of my character.  The situation was not fair to me and made me realise the friendship itself was not real but a fantasy.  I was ending a friendship that had already disappeared, in all three cases.

Even now, many months after stepping back from my FF, I still find myself hoping that maybe something could change, but when the lines of communication have been shut down by the other person and when that other person is triggered by my presence, my word, by their misunderstanding of me, then there is little I can do, and I do not want to cause further harm to my FF by any attempt to do so.

This decision has been years in the making, I realise now.  Neither of us know the people we have become, and to each other we are now strangers, strangers who were once non-blood siblings.

It happens, but my goodness it hurts.  More than the loss of a lover, the loss of a friend causes a grief that chokes me.  I cannot think of them without wistful mourning, without wishing to know they are well in spite of their lack of knowledge of me.

It hurts because they didn’t know me and they showed it.  I spoke my truth and shared my secrets and still they did not understand the core of my being.  That must be as much my aversion to conflict and therefore to correcting when I noticed, if I noticed.  I do place the responsibility in my corner because it was from my corner I came out to fight for myself, my identity and the reality of who I am, and in moving out from that corner I was backed into I made the decision to end the friendships.

I have no idea how they feel about me now, or even if I feature in their thoughts at all.  They still feature in mine, and most kindly now.  The hurt they caused has faded and the memories of how close we once were remain.  There was love there, once.  That is enough for me to have fondness and hopes for their future.

heart not life

I made the right decision, I know that.  The right decision is often the hardest decision, but for the sake of myself and my FFs, it is one I had to make.

If they see this, and if they recognise themselves, I hope they realise I do still carry love for them and always will.  It’s just that love is not enough, in any relationship, without truth.

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From → Autobiography

2 Comments
  1. Great, thoughtful and honest piece of writing. I think the only thing that is harder than this is losing a friend to death, because you know with a heavy heart that there’s no coming back from that, no way you’ll see and connect with them again. When we drift away from friends or something happens in the life of one or the other to cause a disconnection, I do believe there’s a need for separation but it isn’t necessarily forever. Sometimes the growth and pains we go through have to happen away from certain people. I don’t know why. They just do. Then there are the relationships we enter into, new jobs, relocations, development of illness and disabilities, when we can find the orbits and gravities involved in our circle of friends can be disturbed subtly or riotously, not always detrimentally but often so.

    There’s getting older, which does change us, in ways that can be bad and good. There’s a saying that the core of a person remains the same but I don’t think that’s guaranteed at all. I had at least one person in my life for a very, very long time who is now completely unrecognisable to me, not just in personality but on those rare occasions when I’ve seen them. They actually look different, their mannerisms have changed, all the fundamentals I once took to be solid. There are those who we don’t see for years on end, we come back together and pick up pretty much where we left off; or, where there was conflict once upon a time and misunderstanding, with some space having elapsed and maturity gained, we are able to see what went wrong, apologise and find connection again.

    I consider myself a better, wiser person today than I was, say, 20 years ago. Some of the people in my life two decades ago, to arbitrarily choose a time period, won’t fit into my world today and did me wrong either consciously or, most often, not consciously at all. Some of them were done wrong by me, certainly not consciously but perhaps foolishly and because all sorts of factors were at work in my life. I’ve learned to forgive myself my past transgressions and forgive others too, which is healthy and right. What wouldn’t be right today would be to look back and judge my peers harshly, when we were all less mature than today and, whatever happened, they and I are not in the same situations now.

  2. It’s sad to recognize and accept it but you’re much better out of an unhealthy relationship.

    Thanks for sharing!

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