The loss of a friendship can feel like death, especially when it ends in a hurtful way. But all of us change, and some friendships last for only a season.
We were supposed to grow old together. Raise our children together. Experience joy and laughter together. But it didn’t happen the way I had envisioned. My heart was broken. It was like death.
It was death – it was the death of a friendship.
The back story, from my perspective…
She had always been concerned with her health for things that I did not see as a big deal. I felt like she made problems that all people experience into things that she alone suffered. She was constantly going to the doctor and trying remedies that, in my mind, were not necessary.
When my mother was in a drug-induced coma fighting for her life my friend came to visit. As she and I were sitting in the waiting room, she started to complain about her health problems. I was beyond upset. But I never said anything. Well, for almost 10 years I didn’t.
After that, there was a season of time we only spoke sporadically. Our friendship did, however, survive. And after the birth of my son, it thrived. We lived in separate cities, but it didn’t matter. We talked several times a week. I vented about how much I disliked where we were living. She vented about her health.
Eventually, all her doctor’s visits and medications did lead to serious health problems. Like, to the point she could hardly walk. Her doctor prescribed a drug that was way too strong, and it came with serious consequences.
It consumed her. It had become part of her identity. And I missed my friend.
Over time our friendship became mostly conversations about her and her health. She never asked about me. So, I simply stopped sharing. Then one day she asked why I was not expressing excitement with her about a new remedy she was going to try. The floodgates opened – I said it all. All the disappointment, all the hurt, all the judgment; and I said it with great emotion.
We talked twice after that day. That was about six years ago. I still think about her almost daily.
My own faults…
Our friendship couldn’t handle the honesty. There are few relationships that can. In order to be brutally honest with someone there needs to be a level of trust. Trust that there is unconditional love. With unconditional love, there is acceptance and forgiveness. Acceptance if the person doesn’t change, and forgiveness if they do.
I would like to sit here and tell you that the loss of our friendship was all her fault. But I can’t. We both played a role, of course. Victim is not a label I put on myself. Since I am learning that I cannot change others, and am only responsible for my own actions, I must be responsible for what I did wrong.
I was prideful and selfish. I couldn’t understand. I wasn’t patient. I didn’t allow her to change. I wasn’t honest. I buried hurts that had not healed. I thought she needed to listen to me and take my advice. I was unkind and unloving in my delivery. I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to feel justified.
I am sorry.
My peace in this death has been the question: What if it wasn’t meant to last? What if we weren’t meant to grow old together?
Each of us has our own journey in life. People are placed on our journey of life for seasons of time. During this time we help encourage, challenge, and shape each other. Sometimes our journeys are aligned. Sometimes they align for a long time. But our journeys change us and relationships must change as well. If they don’t, they will hold us back from where we need to go.
We were both changing and were not able to support each other as our lives took different paths. We had helped each other become who we were, but we were starting to hold each other back on who we needed to be.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Proverbs 27:9, NLT
I don’t regret the loss of the friendship, but I do regret the way it ended.
Whenever I think about her, I pray for her, her health, and her family. A few times I have facebook stalked her because I need to know how she is doing, and this is somehow acceptable in our society now. But my journey has led me to walk with different friends now, with a new level of trust and honesty.
For these friends I am thankful, and I pray I will love them well.