People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Well that’s what they say (whoever they is). But now that more of my life is in the rear-view mirror than out the front windshield I am beginning to believe this statement is true. Not every friendship is going to last a lifetime, nor should it. Once the reason is determined and then lived out, poof!
There goes that one.
I’ve always had a hard time with this because I hate losing. Not losing, as in a competition or a fight, but losing something (or someone) that was once precious to me. I always figured if I try harder, do more work, suffer more trials and tribulations and live in a constant state of forgiveness, I can salvage any relationship. Indeed I wrote a blog several years ago about my perpetual desire to leave even romantic relationships “in love”. Not with flying dishes, accusations and acrimony but with fond memories of the love that was even though it can no longer be the love that is.
Friendships are even harder for me to release. And I have so very many (lucky me!), one might think culling a few would be good for my time/amigo/management skills. I have a dear friend who tells me quite plainly she is “not currently accepting applications for new friends.” She has enough, she is busy enough, she cannot and does not want to devote the time and energy to cultivating anything new.
I just can’t do it. If someone lands in my orbit and we connect, we exchange energy symbiotically, we are curious and intrigued by one another, my arms fly open wide and I say Come on in! I just can’t not.
This does leave me with a rather extensive Christmas card list and I’m okay with that.
However … what I now realize with blinding certainty is that not all these relationships are going to last a lifetime. Nor do they need too. And sometimes the work necessary to keep the friendship afloat is either so draining or so one-sided the best response it to just let it go. The season is over. Time to put away those clothes and move on. No big drama, no farewell party and certainly no harsh words. Just an increasing lack of input which will eventually lead to either a cursory acquaintanceship or silence. I’m just fine with either, once I’ve made the decision to let go.
But what about a huge, longtime friendship that suddenly goes off the rails? One that, even after dialogue and more dialogue, seems destined to explode. Why? Because neither party is willing to concede. Whatever the argument, both parties firmly believe they are in the right and no amount of lawyer-ing is going to change their minds. What then?
Well … I take a deep breath, maybe even pour a glass of wine (hard to imagine, I know) and I ask myself – reason, season or lifetime? And it all becomes pretty simple. If I truly want lifetime with that person I ask myself this – would I rather win this fight or would I rather win this friendship?
If it’s the fight I need to win then damn the torpedoes and prepare for battle. I’m ready to rock and roll because I have already discerned I am ready to lose this relationship. Bring on the fight!
But once I realize that I want the friendship for a lifetime I have to adjust my thinking completely. Because winning the fight can no longer concern me. Forgiving, forgetting, agreeing to disagree, speaking lovingly and then moving on … these are the actions that become important. Paramount.
In one such instance, a dear friend of mine told me that our difference of opinion had left “a bad taste in her mouth.” Indeed it had in mine as well. But after some time and some healing I said to her “The only way to get rid of a bad taste in your mouth is to replace it with a good one.” So now – if we both want – we move forward and create new memories. Ones that taste good. So that we can leave the bad taste behind.
In order for this plan to be successful both parties have to be willing to forgive and forget. And never bring that sucker up again, no matter how many glasses of wine have been enjoyed. Both parties have to agree that winning the friendship is more important than winning the argument.
Doing that is fucking hard. Really fucking hard. Especially when you know that you are right.
Okay .. kidding. I’m not right. She’s not right. We are both right and we both wrong and who actually gives a shit? We both have our reasons and they are all valid and now what the heck do we do?
Years ago, I met a woman who became a close friend as she was looking after my son while I worked. Our families socialized, her daughter was best friends with my son, we drank much wine and had lovely chats. And then I found out that she had been lying to me the entire time. About HUGE issues. Many to do with my kid. I was pissed but even more so I was crushed. After I ordered her out of my home my then-husband offered “Who cares?” He was all about the big fat good riddance.
I was a mess. Weeping uncontrollably. Snotty-nosed blob on the floor. Absolutely trashed. Because I had trusted her and believed in her and I couldn’t reconcile that with the truth.
The truth is … her season was up.
I have a few high school friends upon whom I think with fondness. But we have lost contact and I have learned to be okay with that. Their season is up.
I once had a fling with a man who was a dear friend first. And when we determined that love was not in our future I said to him “I would rather die without your love than live without your friendship.” Because he is a lifetime guy. And we are still great friends.
I had a close friendship with a woman who walked through many fires with me, I with her and we threw in a few wild and crazy adventures for good measure. And then one night I realized that our most basic mores and values were in conflict. And when that happens what can you do except let it go? She was a season. We are still in touch (marginally) and I suppose that leaves the door open for a new reason. But at this time, it simply does not exist. It is not a good enough reason to say “But I’ve known her for a million years!” Nope. Our friendships are ever-evolving and much like a bank account you must constantly make deposits to stay flush. And when you are overdrawn … let it go.
So now I find myself facing two very distinct friendships. And wondering reason, season or lifetime?
Friendship A just blindsided me with a reaction to something I wrote that was so weirdly far-fetched and un-friendly I have yet to respond. It’s been days and I have yet to respond. That’s okay because it was many days until she responded to my initial query and no matter how busy we are, I just don’t see real friends ignoring real friends. And when those alleged real friends can’t even pick up the phone and say WTF? then I’m really lost. Because real friends don’t base responses on the “tone” of an email. They go to the source and say WTF? But she did not. She waited until I reached out yet again and then threw some shit in my face. Followed by a lame stab at civility.
So … there is my answer. It’s just not worth the fight. I am not nor will I ever be passive-aggressive but in this instance, my response is silence. Because bullshit followed by civilized bullshit will never be interesting to me. If I’m not worth a phone-call to clear up this tiny (and it really was) misunderstanding then she is not worth my lifetime.
Friendship B is built on authentic interaction. Honesty. Spirited discussion. Wine. And more authentic interaction. This friendship I will fight for. Even though there is bad taste and hurt feelings I will damn well fight to the death for this friendship. Because it is lifetime. It is hard won by and hard fought for. It is worth ignoring my own pride, it is worth living in a state of forgiveness, it is worth truly trying to understand her point of view and then letting go. Because one incident does not a lifetime make.
And she is lifetime. At least I hope she is. I am willing to do the work.
And only time will tell.