Going out and accomplishing something is probably one of the best feelings in the world. However, the worst part is losing somebody who was with you through the entire process.
Time passes and friendships change, and it’s not always for the best. Sometimes, at some point in life, we find that a friend with whom we have had a long and important relationship is no longer someone that we particularly like or enjoy being around anymore. Perhaps the friend has changed and become someone entirely different or perhaps we have changed, and what used to work in the friendship no longer works.
As we become more self-aware, we examine our long-term friendships, particularly the ones that no longer feel good or the same as it used to feel once upon a time, and investigate what our sense of deep connection is actually built around, and whether that connection is something that we still want or need in our life. The flavor of the relationship may indeed be familiar, and familial, but is it still nourishing to who we are now?
It’s easy to talk theoretically about friendship, but what are we to do when an old friend with whom we have a lot of history is no longer the same person who they used to be? In no way is this a suggestion to bail when the bumps come or when it no longer feels good all the time. There is no doubt that a long-term friendship requires seat belts and hard work, and most of the time they are worth the effort. This is not about the bumps in the road of friendship. But what about when the effort is no longer producing a relationship that is nourishing – when our old friend is no longer someone we like to be around? Ultimately it should feel good to be around our friends, at least at some level. It certainly should not feel bad. After all, friends are people we choose to include in our life, ones we enjoy spending time with. When it feels bad much of the time, we need to make a change.
Fallaciously, we are taught that the only way to honor our history with an old friend is to stay in an active relationship. We believe that to let a friendship go because it is no longer nourishing or enjoyable (and may even have become harmful) is to dishonor our history with that friend and eradicate the place that they occupied in our life.
Unfortunately, we have it backward.
When we allow an important history to be infiltrated with resentment and unfriendly feelings, we are in fact not honoring the friendship and not treating it with the love and respect that the friendship’s history deserves. We are injecting something sweet with poison. We don’t know it, but we can hold someone in our heart, actively, in the present moment, honoring the profound place they hold in our life history – and – at the same time, also know that the friendship’s time may have passed.
As humans, we are work in progress and continually changing throughout life. There are friendships that belong in different places and at different times, with different versions of who we are. Because a friendship’s time has passed does not mean that it was not and is not important – still. To demand that a friendship continues past its rightful time can be an attempt to turn it into something it isn’t, which is to take away from what it is. Sometimes the only way to get to have a forever friendship is to let it go in the form that it was and allow it to take on the form that it needs to be – all the while holding it steady in your heart.
(Nancy Colier LCSW, 2013)
Business Development Executive
IRIANS- The Neuroscience Institute