Forgive the Carrie Bradshaw-ism, but lately, I've thought a lot about relationships. Friendships between women, specifically. Even more uniquely, how the era of my 20s has very much defined by who I've been surrounded by. I turn 30 next year (typing that admission still doesn't make it feel real) and in anticipating that, I've been deeply contemplative. Over the past decade, it's easy to remember the different jobs and the changing of the cities and the pivotal life happenings, but the girls who made it what it was and is along the way? As different as they all are, their impact on and place in my life is what clearly stands out in my memory.
There are those who will just always be there. The childhood best friends and the college best friends, and the few others who have managed to show up and then burrow into my heart somewhere along the way--these are the ones who just seem to grow and evolve right alongside me. The inside jokes and memories are part of the effortless repertoire, but it all goes deeper than that. Nothing seems to threaten to sever the ties--not the miles, or the marriages, not the jobs or the kids or the years that pass. They're as reliable as the changing of the seasons.
Then there are the ones who come and go. They ride into your life on a wave that you might have expected--new friends come right alongside the new cities and new jobs and new churches. Sometimes the sweetest of friends come so unexpectedly... but it's realistic to admit that as quickly and seamlessly as they seem to appear, there's no guarantee that they'll remain indefinitely. And that hurts me. The break-up might be anticipated or just sort of happen. It may be a volatile severing or quietly crumble. It hurts regardless. For some of them, it's easy to understand why they trail on out, but for others, if you're like me, you just earnestly hope they catch up to where you are.
Adulthood brings with it the requisite growth. We all change--intentionally or not. The ideas we have, the beliefs we cling to, it's all bent and twisted and made into something else--the person we are at 20 isn't the same person we evolve into at 30. Just as we change, and keep changing and 40 and 50 and 60 will look different too. Those few select friends will remain... for some, you have to try a little harder, and for the others, it's my belief that your paths crossed for a reason, but the hard truth is that it's run its course. You move on and hopefully remember your past fondly. And for the ones who remain, you bust your ass all that much more to make sure they realize how much you love them.
Here's the thing... it's still not easy for me. It's still something I struggle with, something I'm not accustomed to, no matter how much I can acknowledge that it's a part of life. I am loyal to a fault--I do my best to make sure the people I love know it. As much as I try to thoughtfully and rationally handle life as it comes at me, I am endlessly sensitive. I feel a deep sense of hurt when I feel discarded, or when I don't feel appreciated or valued. I try to understand the other side as I realize that life happens, and that the trickling in and out of people is to be expected. But it hurts just the same. It's hard to admit something is ending, or even changing when you don't want it to. If you're angry, it's almost easier to handle. In a sense, the quiet crumblings are the worst kinds of break-ups. No one necessarily did anything wrong... so it's this empty hole of wondering. But we deal with it and make way, knowing eventually someone will change, or someone else will fill the void. Not the same exact way, but it's all part of life's ebb and flow.
The thing that's resonated repeatedly with me is that if someone you've made a priority is consistently not valuing, appreciating or including you, it's probably time to move on. My needs for friendships may not be the same as yours, just as my expectations for all of my friends aren't identical... but my bottom line is to remember the ones who make the time despite all life brings, remember the ones who value you, and do your best to carry on. I think deep down, you know if someone will find their way back to you, and you know if someone is moving along.
I remember once being told that this whole experience is easier to swallow if you take the time to realize what each person in your life is capable of giving you. Some of them are meant to be the fun ones--the exuberant ones who are great storytellers and have infectious laughs. Some are seemingly too busy for the day-to-day chats, but there for you anytime you truly need to be heard, day or night. Some need you more than you need them. Some are just always there, and you balance each other.
Have you had the same struggle? Maybe you're more accepting of the shifting than I am... it's hard. People trickle in and trickle out of the everyday, sometimes to make room for something deeper with someone else. It ushers in its own heartache, but it also is linked to that growth, I think. I can appreciate the hurt that comes with friend break-ups is strongly tied to my loyalty, to my desire for my friends to feel their value. But the hurt on the other side is part of it too.
Growing up isn't easy... we know that. This manual purging of thoughts is therapeutic for me as I trudge my way to 29 (10 days!), and stumble my way to 30.
Thanks for walking with me.