A Gen X’er Tells It Like It Is: Releasing the Pain of Lost Friendships
Generation X is the moniker applied to those born after the Baby Boomers and preceding the Millennials. This series features the musings of a proud member of this generation.
“The wasted years, the wasted youth. The pretty lies, the ugly truth. And the day has come where I have died. Only to find I’ve come alive. “ -"Teen Idle", Marina Diamandis (Marina and the Diamonds)
Part Two: Releasing the Pain of Lost Friendships
The old adage is that once you reach a certain age, nothing seems to faze you as much as it used to. If anything, your self-awareness is probably at its strongest once you hit those milestone years. I know that I am not the same person I was back when I was 20, 30, or even 35. As a sovereign adult, I’ve lived through moments of triumph and glory, along with plenty of sorrow and pain. Due to everything I have gone through in my life, there are many things I no longer tolerate. There are behaviors and viewpoints that are no longer acceptable to me. All of us have gone through quite a lot emotionally throughout life, and very often we put our hearts on the line, only to have them broken by people who we think love and care about us.
Yes, while emotional pain is a part of life, how much can you take before you decide that enough is enough? Where do you draw that line in the sand and state that you are not going to hurt me anymore? Do you want to surround yourself with people you may have fun with, but everything else is riddled in superficiality? Or do you want someone who will be there for the long haul? For many of us that are sensitive, we feel things very deeply and profoundly. We give ourselves wholeheartedly and when someone takes advantage of that, we wonder what we have done to deserve that type of treatment. Due to my being a victim of bullying as well as other events in my childhood, it’s been difficult for me to trust people, but once someone has it, I fully invest myself in that relationship. Shakespeare’s famous quote about people being “merely players” on the stage that is life, was on point. Friends and extended family members came into my life and left my life. Some stayed for a long time; others disappeared as quickly as they came.
I have always done everything that I could to keep those friendships that were important to me going, but there were some that just were not meant to be. In the past, I had several friends that I was very close to. We would do everything together. We’d tease each other, but there was a strong, almost sisterly, bond. I thought we would be in each other’s lives forever. After a particularly painful series of life-changing events that resulted in my being in a deep depression, I learned that these people I would have done anything for weren’t really around. Once I got out of that depression, I began slowly rebuilding myself and eventually we each had some joyous moments that were acknowledged, then these friends disappeared altogether. Those people I considered family, those that I would have dropped everything to help if they needed me, were gone. As time progressed, it finally became clear that they were not invested in the friendship as much as I was. I thought about it and noticed that I was doing all the reaching out, keeping in touch, and making it a point to keep us connected, with limited reciprocation. Eventually, I stopped all contact, waiting to see if they would take the initiative. They never did, and they never have since. After a few months of silence, I had reached that point where I had to put my foot down and end that cycle. I felt that those one-sided friendships really weren’t any benefit to me, so I let them go. Years passed and the pain of losing them never quite went away. I’ve mourned that loss. I’ve stuffed that grief down, but every now and again, that hurt rears its ugly head. I finally learned that have to make it stop, or else that dark cloud will continue to hover over me. To end it once and for all, and to free myself, I now have to make that apology to those who are gone (in my mind):
I’m sorry that you couldn’t meet my expectations of respect, empathy, or compassion. I’m sorry that my soul and heart were too big and that you could not continue to accept them into your life. I’m sorry that you were unable to handle my pain and the difficult situations that caused it. I’m sorry that you were unable to step in and help me to heal when I needed people the most. I’m sorry that I cared more than I should have. I gave you all that I could. My heart was wide open towards you because I thought you had my back, no matter what. Maybe you had your own difficulties in life that needed your full attention. Maybe you just couldn’t handle anyone else’s issues. I understand and accept that you obviously did not have that capability, whatever it was, but I also accept and know that is not a reflection of me. I don’t want to continue to beat myself up over past sorrows and hurts, but I still have days where I think about it and I do cry. I’ve come to accept that I will never know the reason why you walked away, but I do know why I did. To give myself the serenity and happiness I deserve, I had to walk away. For my part, if I had done anything to hurt you, I deeply apologize.
I realize those years I spent crying for those people I lost could be construed as wasted. They were wasted to me in the sense that I invested so much of myself in those that simply didn’t feel the same, and I continued to waste my thoughts thinking about how that time was wasted. In the end, I realize that it was their loss and defeat, not mine. They may be the ones who will have to live with it, but how do you get past that latent feeling of rejection and abandonment? Most of us harden our hearts and put up walls, never truly letting them down. I was like that for years. That was the true waste.
That heart and gut-wrenching sorrow that I held onto for many years had to metaphorically die, as well. I don’t blame them anymore, and I have closed that chapter on those friendships that are long over. Yes, I may have forgiven those who have hurt me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t stay in my memory. Like the famed Phoenix, that person had to crash and burn in order to gloriously resurrect, even more, powerful than before. No one ever goes through existence emotionally unscathed. Those scars will always be there. You want to pour out your heart and soul to everyone, but once you have been burned many times, it becomes too difficult, too painful to handle. It’s been so ingrained into your psyche that you can’t escape it. It becomes a part of you. The people that are now constants in my life are the ones that matter. The people that I choose to have in my life now bring me joy, laughter, support, and a sounding board when I need it. This is 100% reciprocated and appreciated. Those that are gone are now just people I used to know.
I still have a ton of fight left in me, a lot of love to give, a lot of work to do and a lot of stories to tell. All anyone can do is continue to try to live their best lives and surround themselves with those that are truly deserving of our time and energy. Those that are meant to be in your life want to make sure that light is shining and will want to bask in it but will pull you out of that darkness when it is necessary.
You can find Part One of the A Generation X'er Tells it Like it is HERE