Are you a failure if the person you had your first deep friendship with seems to be ending or just be surface-level now? Many people first experience this during high school or college time, but I’m wrestling with it now. My heart has been struggling with it for a while, but the answer is getting clearer this week: No, I am not a failure in friendship—it is just a transition time.
This is a transition time in this friendship. We’ve both changed a lot since college, and sometimes those changes cause people to part ways. I don’t know what will happen with this relationship; I have sadness mixed with hope.
One stressor that hurt our friendship was my desire to be in charge of the relationship. A few years ago I was just starting to learn about my control issues. (When you are learning about how to deal with control, there will be some relationships that are damaged; I wish it wasn’t the case, but this is how it happened for me.) Part of what hurts me is that I didn’t know I was hurting her at the time; she did not choose to tell me until months later. I wish she could have been more honest with me; that is part of what stings. I forgive her.
My control issues damaged this friendship, but the experience exposed them as well. I do not want to lose more loving friends, so the pain of a hurt friendship has taught me that control is not worth it. I’m learning to trust people deeper, thus freeing them to be themselves. I don’t have to try to control them to protect myself; I may get hurt this way, but the peace of letting people be who they are is so worth it.
The pain kept surfacing when I would reach out to this friend and hardly get a response. In order to heal, this week I’ve had to decide to let just relax and let this friend be where she is at. A friendship grows because two people are watering it, and if this friend is too busy or doesn’t want to be friends anymore, I can let her choose that. I can let her be who she is now, and I will be who I am. I can reach out once in a while, but let her choose if she wants to go deeper again or not.
When I realized that she had been one of my closest friends, but that may have not been the case on her part–that hurt. I can feel the pain, process it, and so it won’t bubble up every time I think of her. I can let go of the pain, forgive myself for damaging the friendship, but also realize we both have a choice here. I would love to be friends with her like we used to be, but she doesn’t seem to want to, so I can let her go! I can enjoy the memories of all the fun we had together.
The healing is sinking deeper. There are many other wonderful people who DO want to be my friends; she was my first deeper friend, but she is far from my last.
By M. H. Campbell
P.S. See Part 2 for a fun encouragement that came after I wrote this yesterday!