Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When Do You Give Up?

I love my friends. I treasure them. My friends are the center of my world. They keep me grounded, they keep me happy, they challenge me, they keep me laughing, they make me the person that I am. The people in my life are my top priority, and my life often orbits around them. I love each of them more than words can express.

But do you ever give up on a friendship? Can you ever? When do you reach the point where you say, "Enough is enough"?

When I was in middle school, I had friend problems. Each year I tried to wiggle my way into a group of friends, and each year, they hurt me and wouldn't let me into their clique. But after those awkward adolescent years, everything's been fine. I'm great at making friends and good at keeping them. I think I'm pretty fun, easygoing and slow to anger. When something does happen, I'm quick to apologize, I'm forgiving and don't hold grudges. I am by no means a perfect person, but I do believe that if there's even one thing I'm good at in this world, it's love.

In the past few years, I've had problems with friends. Problems that remind me of grades 6-8 when a good friend really was hard to find. I actually got very depressed about this a couple years ago, and when I talked to my mom about it, she counseled that it's just what happens when you're in your 20s. She said people grow and change a lot in that time, and you won't always grow and change together. I think she's right, and in reading your blogs over these past few months, I feel a little better about these problems because I see that I'm not alone. It still sucks, though, doesn't it?

You just feel so helpless. You don't know what you did wrong or what's happening or how to fix it. You expect a dating relationship to end, but not a friendship. Never a friendship. The pain of losing a friend aches in ways your heart hasn't bent before. And it's a slow ache that creeps up on you and intensifies as more time passes. I've gotten over the worst heartaches of my little life so much sooner than I've ever recovered from losing a friendship. It's a dull pain that stays with you.

This is what it feels like to lose a friend.

I don't know about you, but I never want to lose a friend. I never let go. I always keep wishing. If any of the friends I've lost in the past few years sent a kind email, a little "Hello, how are you?" I would be happy to reconnect and rebuild what we lost. I would apologize as easily as I would accept apologies - all with the thrill of welcoming the Prodigal Son that is our friendship home.

Looking back at my life, I've never chosen to end a friendship. There have been points when I felt it wasn't going to work, but even through those times, I push on and keep hoping. It's foolish probably. Many have cautioned me that it isn't healthy, that I just let myself get hurt again and again. Yet it's who I am. I love. Forever.

When someone hurts you consistently just because they can, isn't that the time to toss in the towel? To give up and save yourself more heartache? Probably. But it's so difficult for me to reach that point that if I ever did, it wouldn't be a big production. It wouldn't be calculated or declared. It would be a sad and private moment.

What about the realization that your friend is not who you thought they were? Love is blind, and sometimes we are too. Sometimes we see the best in someone whose best doesn't show its face enough. How do you get to the point where you can admit you were wrong about someone and that the friendship isn't what you thought it was?

Sometimes I understand why a friendship is changing, what is at the crux of the issue, and I sympathize for my friend and for myself. I wonder if it's unfair of me to continue pushing, am I forcing them to be who I want them to be? Is it selfish to hold on? Can you ever force friendship? Is it self-indulgent? Why is it so hard to admit a friendship has run its course? Is it weakness?

When I'm worried or upset about a friendship on the rocks, I focus on the good, solid friendships in my life. The ones I'm certain will never go anywhere. I focus on all the love in my life rather than the love I've lost out of my life. I find that whenever you do that, you realize that one greatly outweighs the other. What we have is always more than what we've lost.

So let's try to stay chin up on those bad days, and shoot a good friend a quick "I love you, and I appreciate you," message. After all, when we stop to really look at what we have, we'll see we have a lot of love in our lives.


The Alleged Ringleader said...

It's REALLY difficult to end a friendship but it's ridiculous to stay in a friendship where you are giving so much more than you are ever getting in return. Like you, I have a real hard time giving up on friends! I have been really hurt in the past by friends of mine who had done me wrong and all I really wanted from them was an apology. Recognition of what happened and then I'm sorry! Instead of that I have had friends disappear off the face of the earth! I wonder how could they just throw away all the good times and not even think about me? You never really forget them and it just eats you up inside!
I have forgiven 1 of my friends after disappearing and not speaking for 6 years and things are a lot better now. Sometimes time will heal a relationship or at least get a person to a point where they can reconcile and be honest about things.

Carolina Girl said...

I had more friend problems in my 20s than I did in high school. It was crazy. I guess we were all growing up and changing...and we did't know how to trust each other or when to lean on each other. It was crazy.

Things are much better now. Hang in there! You sound like a friend any girl would be lucky to have :)

PS Hilarous post about your Wal Greens trip!! LOL

Carolyn said...

I feel the same way about this as you do. I have never lost a friendship and I pray I never have to...because they are allowed in to that deep vulnerable core of your heart that only family and God (in my case) are allowed to explore.

I have, however, noticed that the older I get the more I see my friends true characters. You go through so much together, little things and big, and in the seemingingly meaningless times where you catch a glimpse of who they really are is when you make the choice to get closer or distance yourself a bit. And I think that's long as we take a look in the mirror at the same time, and realize that we are all perfectly flawed.

You are a great writer!

just a girl... said...

if you aren't getting what you need you have to end a friendship. I always hate it when it feels like you are dating your friends.

Eve Noir said...

This was a really good post. Thanks for sharing. I feel the same as Carolina Girl, I had more friend problems in my 20s compared to high school (or even junior high). Probably because people are changing a bit differently then. I lost a few good friends in my 20s, and idk how/why exactly still.

And a current (i used to think) really good friend has not been much of a friend. I feel like I'm giving giving & giving some more and nothing in return. I wonder what to do because it hurts. But I even talked to her about this before & although I felt better (that i got it off my chest), the situation is still the same. I treasure of all my friends but right now, with her in particular, it's a "IDK what to do" feeling anymore. Friendships can be both great & tricky.

Jen Kucsak said...

Awesome post - you rock! It's the hardest thing to do to give up on a friendship, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I've done it. I think we've all done it. But you live and you learn. And when you have a true friend they will stick by you through anything, never be jealous, and be happy for you no matter what.

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