Almost a year ago a friendship ended. It was in the process of ending for a long, long time and I think we who had held this friendship and cared for it knew this deep down. On more than one occasion I felt it was finally “the end”, but when it really was over, it happened quietly and gently, slipping away like a thief in the night, and taking all of our plans for the future with it.
When I met my former best friend I was 15 and she was the first person who really understood me and saw me for who I was. I was awkward and brash and uncouth and sometimes highly inappropriate, but she still saw me. I fell in love with her spirit and her soul. She was brave and fierce and everything I always dreamt I’d have in a friend. That she also wanted to be my friend was surreal.
Teenage dreams of growing up and having children and raising our kids together turned into realities of doing those things. We clung to our friendship through relationships, break ups, marriages, miscarriages, births of our children, and the death of my mother and her aunt. We laughed until we cried and sometimes we cried because of broken hearts. For seventeen glorious years my dear best friend knew me better than anyone else.
And then, things changed. More accurately, I changed.
We didn’t account for the changes I would come to embrace. When we were young we shared many of the same views. We were both highly religious and both conservative. We took for granted that we would always believe the same things because we always had. But, about 7 years ago I began to change. I met people who challenged my previous notions on sexuality, gender, race, and equality. I was given the amazing opportunity to learn about the lives and struggles of people who weren’t like me. My faith guided me to a place of questioning everything I’d learned about these people and once those questions were asked, I had to have answers. And the answer was clear: compassion. “Love thy neighbor.”
This love and this drive toward empathy led me to reject much of modern Christianity and all of Conservatism. Love and compassion were now the cornerstone of my beliefs and I found it at odds with the faith of my youth. So, I changed. I did. And joyfully. Life lived in love and walked in grace has allowed me to experience connection with others that I’d never known. For the first time in my life I feel I really understand what Jesus was sent to do: sent to heal through His love. And it all just sort of clicked.
But, my beautiful, wonderful friend who had never wronged me didn’t experience that change. She hadn’t had my experiences. My friend stayed steadfast in their beliefs. And when Donald Trump became president these differences in our beliefs finally bubbled up to the surface and could no longer be ignored.
I ended the friendship. It was my choice. We tried to make it work, but inevitably it couldn’t work. I was different. And she was not. And I could no longer separate my friend of seventeen years from the person who held beliefs that were so very opposite of my own. Beliefs that pained me, angered me, and caused harm to other people I love.
One afternoon my former best friend sent a text scolding me for posting a photo of my partially nude body on my Instagram page. She felt it inappropriate, regardless of its purpose or intention. And that was the click. It was a sort of clearing away of cobwebs. A sudden flashing neon sign yelling, “It’s Over”. And it was. It was over.
I blocked her number. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t lash out. I just blocked the number and I released the friendship. Because it was time.
It was time to let go.
I do not hate my former best friend. In truth, I love her. I will always love her. I will always pray for her to have joy and happiness. I will always quietly fantasize that she has a good life and she is laughing and she is painting and she is singing and she is doing all the things I fell in love with when I met her when we were just babies. I want her to be happy. I want her to succeed. But I recognize that I can want all those things for her from afar. And so I let go. And so I have peace.
In life we will all have to let go of things we have loved. Sometimes they are people, sometimes habits and hobbies, sometimes they are objects. Experiencing loss is one of the greatest teachers. Through loss we learn the value of what we have. And through it we learn the power of surviving that loss.
Every day I am surviving the loss of my best friend. And every day I am grateful that we got seventeen years out of the friendship, regardless of its need to end.
I hope you find peace during the letting go’s in your life. I hope you will see joy and hope on the other side of the grief.
Until next time.