A friend and I recently had a conversation about our retirement plans. We both married old men (OK, they’re not old, they’re just older than we are), and since women live longer anyway, we’re going to certainly outlast them. When it’s time to retire, we thought we’d move to Florida in a small house and hire a young man with big muscles to mow our yard.
When I was younger, high school and college age, I had a million friends. And I thought they were all super close, all people who’d be my friends forever. When Mom used to tell me, “We are lucky if we get one true friend in our lives,” I thought she was nuts. Because here I was, clearly with dozens, so it can’t be that hard.
Well, it turns out, Mama knows best. While I do think that I have more friends than maybe normal — psychologically, I’m sure, a result of a deep-seeded desire for a traditional sibling relationship, one that is impossible when an autistic brother, so I find and cling to my friends — high school me was a crazy person.
Over the last six months to a year, I’ve found myself sort of mentally breaking up with people, friends who were once my closest confidants, or newer folks I thought would stand the test of time. But a friendship takes two people trying, and when it’s just one person trying to hold something together, it doesn’t work. It can’t work.
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have let go. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and I would have fought for these people. But in some cases, you get tired of fighting for years. Or maybe you realize that, when you confront a person for saying a hurtful word, that person’s utter lack of remorse makes you see the friend in a new light. Or maybe you simply get sick of being the only person to put any effort whatsoever into the relationship.
High school me would judge 30-year-old me for this, surely. She would chastise me for giving up, or for harboring hurt feelings. But I would counter that, oddly, I don’t feel hurt anymore. Oh, I did, once, especially for the friendships that have been breaking down for years. But today, I feel more acceptance. I understand those relationships for what they were. They provided me with joy and comfort and love, and those memories provide the same.
However, I have learned to let go, to stop harboring any resentments. And it’s nice. It’s nice to remember a friendship in its prime and be thankful it was there than to feel anger that things turned out as they did.
Time and distance has taught me what I could have done differently, to try and assure a different outcome. It has also taught me what was out of my hands.
In the very end are the friends who did last, the ones I’ll still call when I’m retired and my boobs hit my kneecaps.
And that’s pretty awesome.
I’m curious: Have you ever felt like you “broke up” with a friend? How did it go?
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