Can you walk away from a friendship with gratitude for what you had verse anger for what you didn't? Can the missing pieces of a friendship help you plant wishes for a future friendship that is more aligned for both of you? Questions I answered once I was able to heal and move forward from my last painful friendship breakup.
After a few decades on this earth, I've experienced many types of female friendships. I came into the New Year hot on being aligned in my life, aware that I'd been carrying around some excess friendships weighing me down, and I was not benefiting them either.
I categorize friendships into forever family-like friends, those friends that will be with you through thick and thin. They tell you the hard things and will love you through a complicated conversation. There are nostalgic friends; you can pick up where you left off and have lovely memories, and there is a lot of space between hanging out. And then there are the seasonal or party friends. They are typically the ones you meet during a high moment like a party, a festival, a new job, or a new experience, and you become fast friends through the experience. I find these friendships tricky to approach when the season is coming to an end. The relationship showed up for an important reason, and the next lesson is learning when to let them go.
One significant challenging one to work through was a friendship that showed up to support me when it felt no one else could. It was like a shotgun friendship that felt so aligned, beautiful, and amazing that when the small things that typically are unhealthy in friendships came up, I lightly let them go, thinking this was a healthy approach to this new gal pal. It's much like a breakup, discovering the true colors of the friendship once it's over. By not giving feedback at the moments when things didn't support our friendship, we built our relationship on a faulty foundation. As we both started to honor ourselves and things that lit us up, our friendship started to have turmoil. Our connection pulled one another down, instead of lifting each other up, stunting our individual growth. Adding fuel to the fire, we didn't know how to communicate appropriately; she took a passive-aggressive approach and I an avoidant one; those are two very unhealthy forms of communication paired together.
I felt guilt. And then discovered the guilt was the main reason I held on so long, and quite frankly, that's a fucked up reason. Holding on to someone else out of fear is unhealthy for both parties. I made justifications and kept weighing myself down when life was organically changing our friendship for us.
One day, I finally sunk below the guilt and knew the friendship would end. I struggled to explain what happened to get to this place because there wasn't one reason, nor was anyone in the "wrong." Our friendship ran its course, and once I moved through all the emotional layers, I saw nothing but gratitude. I left it all in a place where I see we both have new space for cultivating better, more serving friendships. I believe that something new has room to grow in our lives that will be more aligned with the women we are today.
This journey wasn't easy, and I still have moments where memories catch me off guard. Gratitude seems to be the healthiest tool during times of friendship transitions.