Walking Your Path Without Old Friends

This popped up on my Facebook feed recently and it spoke to me.

Such a difficult lesson for me to learn right now. One that is so necessary however. I have always given people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t walk away from anyone easily. Yet this has been a year of letting go of people that I have considered friends. 

One friend and I mutually decided to end our friendship a few months ago and it was okay. We wished each other a good life and realized that our friendship, one of about 10 years, had run its course. It was a little painful but overall I think we agreed that it was the right choice.

There’s more coming down the pike I’m afraid. My heart aches over some of the choices that need to be made. But I believe what this says. If a person can’t walk with you, at some point you need to stop asking them to walk alongside, and continue on your path without them. But this process is still one in which I vacillate because I want to have hope that whatever is straining the relationship can be fixed.

Sometimes that hope is dashed by a simple conversation that doesn’t jell. When the conversation is over, I’m just left with the feeling that the reasons for needing to let go are well founded. The change in the relationship is too great; the chasm between us as friends is widening. At some point you know that you are walking the path alone and if you’re walking that path alone, despite inviting the other person, you might as well kiss that person goodbye and keep on truckin’.

I know me, and in each instance I will feel the loss very deeply and profoundly. 

At the end of last year, I knew I had to have a conversation about the trajectory of a friendship. I had  terrible anxiety with just the thought of it. I dreaded the conversation but knew we had to have it. I rehearsed it in my head in the dead of night, while driving in my car, while trying to eat, while falling asleep, just about every waking moment for weeks and weeks. I knew however, that the conversation had to happen,  no matter how painful. It made me physically sick to my stomach.
It was a hard conversation.  We made some decisions but it is a work in progress and it is not always easy.  I don’t know what it means in the long term. I don’t know if we will be friends in the future. I take it one day at a time. I do feel the loss of our deep past friendship. I wonder if things will improve. I don’t take a good time together as a sign of a future of more good times. I only hope that that each good time leads to more and more individual good times. 

Baby steps.

Recently,  a mentor and I discussed that friendships can be on a spectrum that looks much like a bullseye. Acquaintances would be around the outer rings and close friends are further in. A few friends will be in the center bullseye.  

Sometimes, she said, a friendship  that has been in an interior ring has to be reevaluated and moved outward.  It is a difficult and painful decision to have to make but one that must be made for ones own mental health and protection. 

It is a decision I’ve made a number of times in the last year. It’s not always an easy decision but one I don’t regret.

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