Friendships past: To move on or let go?
September 12, 2012 by
Categories: Acceptance, Coping

Missing someone is a tricky business.

There is a careful art between knowing how much to hang on and how much to let go. You could hold on, not deal with reality and be miserable to prove to yourself and whoever, that indeed that person meant/means a lot to you.

Or, you can move on as if they were never there. But what’s the in-between?

In dealing with a loss of a loved one, a friend moving or someone simply fading out of your life, there can be a range of complicated emotions. It can be “simple” sadness, the feeling of a thousand needles in your side every time you breathe, or a continual feeling that nothing is real.

Then the coping mechanisms kick in. It’s going to be hard to live without them, so start preparing now. Distance yourself. List ways they annoy you. Stop calling. Be angry. Tell yourself you don’t need them, or anyone for that matter. That works, right? Not for long.

What got me thinking about all of this was the sudden realization that eventually, you do move on. As much as I’ve resisted it–I’ve done it, because  I’ve had to. Worse, I’ve done it without meaning to.

Maybe you’ll be aware of it, or maybe one day you’ll wake up and realize you’ve adjusted to living your life with one less person in it.

You may think, ‘well what’s so bad about moving on?’ And sometimes, it can be a good thing. But, it’s that the connection is lost. It’s the thought that people will be able to let go of you too, that relationships are transitory. The friends who are supposed to be friends forever, the sister who you said you would always stay in touch with, the classmates who have altered your life in little or big ways.

Again, what is the in-between?

If the loss is permanent, missing them can be an everyday thing. It can be more subtle — just a thought or a memory that pops in your mind, triggered by a certain smell or sound. Then there’s the guilt of living a normal life without them. But it’s what you would want for them. And you do it because you have to. Even if they’re not there with you physically, they’re there emotionally, bound to every part of you. This kind of loss is means that “moving on” also looks different. It’s not as much of moving on as it is integrating it as a new normal, a new self.

Then there are the others. The ones that are physically present but aren’t there (or emotionally present and physically absent). And I’m thinking that it’s okay to miss someone less. That is, it’s okay to think about them less. It doesn’t take away from the time they were in your life, and it doesn’t mean that they still can’t be a very important person to you.

The truth is, if you remained friends and maintained constant communication with all of your friends from childhood and on, there wouldn’t be enough room for you to breathe or to get close to them and know them the way a real friend should. They’ll come and go, as you will come and go in other’s lives. It’s a hard realization that there will be times that people will feel closer to you then you do them, but it’s natural and it will happen.

But,  some of the friendships that don’t last are just as important as the ones that do.

On the flipside, missing someone lets you carry around a piece of that person. Even if you don’t talk to them or see them often, they influence your thoughts and actions. That nostalgic pang in your stomach and heart is a reminder of what once was and what still can be. That familiarity and closeness cannot easily be replaced and that is a lesson I am learning now that I have moved far from home.

Because ultimately, we are shaped by our relationships with others; it’s what we know and how we survive.

Where do you find room for past relationships? Do you feel like it’s possible to truly move on or “get over” someone?


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