The Friendship Breakup
Once upon a time, Amy and I broke up.
We’ve been long distance friends for most of our friendship and the fact that we have stayed friends is wholly due to Amy’s friendship tenacity. I grew up an Air Force brat, which is to say that I grew up letting people go. Amy also grew up moving around - eight schools in eight years. But somehow, that just made Amy more fierce about holding on to people that she loves. Thirteen years ago, my tendency to let go turned out to be almost stronger than Amy’s tenacity.
This is a story about love and telling the truth and how there's no place for pride in a relationship.
That year, Amy and I had not been in as close communication as was normal for us. We had a long history of sharing family Christmases together, concocting holiday meals together, many beach weekends, music festivals, we even planned our weddings together. But after my divorce, I was preoccupied with my own issues and I had been unresponsive. To the point that when I showed up out of the blue at her 40th birthday party, I was not welcome. I had imagined that we’d see each other at this party and we’d fall into each other's arms and all would be redeemed. Not. So. Much. Amy had imbibed a few stiff cocktails and shall we say, left nothing to the imagination as to how she was feeling. Why did I even come, she asked? She shed tears and raised her voice. Clearly, I had misjudged the current status of our relationship.
I went home shaken. Was this stalwart grounding friendship really about to end? Someone who really knew me and was committed for the real me coming through - were we really breaking up? I spent some time grieving and licking my wounds. And being defensive. I mean, I didn't just abandon Amy, however it felt on her end. Ultimately, I resolved that I wasn’t willing to let it go.
So I made a stand.
I wrote her a love letter. Hand written, in colored pencils with illustrations and hearts, and full, full, full of love. I told her what was in my heart. She recently sent me a copy of that letter, and I was moved by the sheer authenticity of affection in every line. I didn’t make excuses, but I did write a long list of everything I loved about her. I told her that I didn’t think it was our destiny to live out our lives as bitter, estranged old women. I told the truth. It’s a written expression of one of the best moments of my life. When I sat down to write, I took out all my colored pencils and cleared the table. I made time and space to make something beautiful happen. When I reread that letter today, I am moved by our friendship and my own commitment to it.
You know, there were reasons for my lack of responsiveness thirteen years ago, but there was no place for that in this love letter. There’s no place for pride in a love letter - only surrender and letting it flow. And forgiveness.
Sometimes my poor old heart just feels so done. I see more and more now when I am trying to armor it up by constricting and judging and...letting go. I’m writing today as a reminder to myself that real expressions of love are sometimes softly painful.
And so worth it. You can be right or you can be happy. It’s a choice. Over and over - this is my lesson to learn.
I invite you to look inward to see where you might be feeling defended. Is there someone to whom you want to say something really authentic? And what’s keeping you from that? Where are you falling on the choice to be right or to be happy?