Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Learning to Let Go

Have you ever had to let go of a friendship? A close friendship?

When I was in my early twenties, I had a dear friend who I just loved. She had a wickedly funny sense of humor--the kind that made me silly from laughing so hard. Eventually, our lives took us in different directions and to different places. We had occassional phone calls, but over time, our communications grew less and less frequent. I would drop her an e-mail every so often or call, and one day I realized that she hadn't returned a handful of my attempts to communicate with her in a row.

Puzzled, I sent her an e-mail and asked if everything was okay. Are you mad at me? No response. Then I called her and left a phone message on her machine. Have I done something to hurt you? If so, please forgive me. Still no response.

Finally, one day when I was living in Spain, I called her at an odd time of day, and she answered. Our conversation had a subtle tension, and I confronted her about not responding to my e-mails and phone calls. She claimed that she never got my e-mails and made the excuse that she was busy and didn't call a lot of people back. I asked her if I had hurt her feelings for the only thing I could rack my brain that I could have possibly done, and she said that it did hurt her a little. I apologized, and we proceeded to catch up on our lives a bit.

After the conversation, I felt angry. I knew deep inside that she had received my e-mails. I wrote her at the same address she has always had and continues to use today. It also occurred to me that if any of my friends were leaving me messages wondering if they had hurt me in some way, I would certainly have made some effort to communicate with them. As I reflected on the history of our friendship, I was left with the feeling that in a general sense, her friendship always had meant more to me than mine did to her.

We have communicated since that conversation (which was four or five years ago) very sporadically and mostly by e-mail. Our friendship never really repaired itself or had any semblance of what it once was. And I'm left here wondering if I now mean anything to her at all. It's just so strange that a friend who I loved so dearly is now a virtual stranger.

I invited her to my wedding, hoping that she might make the trip. I didn't get my hopes up, but I thought that it could have been a nice way to see each other and to rebuild a bridge between us. Not surprisingly, her response card came back saying that she couldn't come. No note. Just an "x" marking the regrets box. I'm not hurt that she isn't coming to the wedding--I completely understand that. For all I know, she may have long had other plans scheduled that weekend.

What hurts is that I'm still holding out some sort of hope that she will want to be my friend again.

I know I have to let go, but it still stings.


sognatrice said...

In my experience, this type of thing usually has to do more with the other person internally than anything you might've done (and I know you can go crazy trying to figure out what that could be!).

Yes, it's hard to accept, but sometimes being someone's friend means giving them space when they need it and trusting that your relationship is as it's meant to be at that moment--never know what might happen down the road.

Nice post.

J at said...

I have a friend like that, and I think I even posted about it once. I don't know if I did something to hurt her or not, but the last time we talked, she was getting ready to move. She moved, and never called to tell me her new address. I wrote to her via her mother's house, and never got a reply. At some point, I decided it was just time to give up. It hurt a lot, though, and still does. I was the maid of honor in her wedding, and she was the first of my friends to see Maya when she was born. I thought we would always be close.

You do never know what the future will may become friends again, and she may have only been in your life for the time that has already passed.

ML said...

I think people come into your life for a purpose. Some for a lifetime, and others for a very short time. Whichever it is, there's a reason and they leave you with something that impacts your life. Something that makes you who you are, makes you grow, takes you in a certain direction.

Yes, it hurts because they're made an imprint in your heart and you feel a loss. However, you can't bring them back because they're gone on another path completely different from yours.

You seem like such a lovely person and anyone would be very lucky to have you as a friend. Her loss.

Beenzzz said...

I agree with ML. People do serve a purpose in certain points in your life. People come and go and there is no way of knowing what will last. You've done all you can by asking her what was wrong. If she had no answer, then clearly it wasn't something you did.

Ana said...

It's funny I had almost the same thing happen to me. My "friend" didn't even reply to my wedding invitation! I had to have someone call her. Then she came to the wedding and left the reception early, making me pay for her dinner! A year and a half later I still think of her and the great times we had. It makes me sad sometimes that it is over, but I know she has no place in my life anymore.
I am really looking forward to your wedding. After following your blog I feel like I know you already!
I am very happy for B and for you.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Sometimes time, coupled with distance, can be one of the biggest relationship killers around.
If she had been geographically close to you, perhaps it could have been salvaged. With the days, months, years and miles between you, that chasm is sometimes too far to bridge.
You had a good friendship, and like everything else in our lives, it has ended. Find some peace with it, remember the good times, and go on.
There are those who may never know a friendship as good as this one once was, so you were blessed.
You have learned a lot... that also is a blessing.
The most important suggestion that I can offer you is this; you apologized, you meant it. You are done with your part of it. Walk away. It is completely up to her to choose to accept it, or to not. If she does not, that is her choice and it will cost you both the friendship (sounds like it already has), but if she wants to be friends, she needs to make the effort to make that happen also, it cannot be one sided.

Let go gracefully. If she wants to be in your life, she will be. I say again, you've done your part.

Focus on your wedding day, your family, the friends that are there for you now, and the Lord. Everything else will fall into place.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Cherry said...

The wedding guest list was probably one of the most hardest tasks I have done. It took a lot of reflection and trying to come to terms that there are people I shouldn't invite and those that I invited but shouldn't get my hopes up about.

When you have loved someone, it always hurts when they leave. No matter why they leave your life. Sometimes we never know why and that leaves the wound open with hope, and wonder and unanswered questions. I hope you are able to find peace with her decision.

Autumn's Mom said...

Everyone has posted similar thoughts to my own. I have been on both sides of this coin Tracy, and both sides hurt just the same. I hope that you can cherish the good memories you have of your friend and leave the rest to Him.

I'm very happy to know you.

Anonymous said...

I like this post. I consider myself a terrible friend because I am the one who won't return calls or make much effort to hang out. It has everything to do with me, because I have this overwhelming feeling that people don't like me, that they are just "trying to be nice", and that they really don't value my company and wouldn't miss me much. It causes me to retreat until I've cut off friendships because I don't see the point. I hope that you can find peace about this situation. *hugs*

Starshine said...

Wow! Thank you so much to all of you for your kind and thoughtful comments. I am encouraged and feel very blessed to have such incredible blog friends. Who knew a "virtual" community could give so much warmth and encouragement to me? *hugs* to you all!

Anonymous said...

I once was told that the rule of thumb about relationships ending is this: 1) if there is no possibility of change and 2) if you are no longer learning anything, then it's time to move on. I'm not saying moving on is easy, but at least when I apply this rule of thumb I feel like I'm covering all the bases. For what it's worth.

Love Bears All Things said...

I agree with Ml. When I moved here,I had 3 friends that I saw weekly. I tried to keep it going but I was the only one making the effort. So I wrote them a letter. One said she thought we'd all moved on and had other interests. The other two said they'd try to meet me when I visited if their schedules permitted. I was hurt but what could I do. I know how you feel.

Buttercup said...

Oh Starshine... I'm sorry that you feel hurt by your friend's actions. It sounds confusing and disappointing. This will probably sound cliche, but try not to take your friend's behavior personally. I am 100% positive that her actions have to do with her and her alone, and have really nothing to do with you. All you can do is control your own actions, and try to be a good person, and you've obviously gone above and beyond to reach out to her. Maybe she's going through something that you have no idea about. I don't know. But, I think you should feel good about the fact that you reached out and that you gave it an honest shot. One day, maybe she'll come back, and at that point you can decide if you want to give it another shot, but for now it sounds like you have done everything you could.