Most of this week I was planning on writing about finding balance as the paradigm continues to shift in the never ending and constantly changing relationships of men and women, but then life hit me with an emotional body slam that was much more personal.
If you read last week’s blog then you saw that I created a very specific drawing “The Power Of Together,” which aptly expressed my feelings behind the creation. My inspiration for the piece came from the many people, mostly friends, who inspire me. Thanks to iPhone technology, I was able to text a picture of it to many of my friends with a short note expressing my gratitude.
One of these texts went to someone I’ve known for over ten years. Throughout the years we’ve had intimate, meaningful conversations about art, family, beliefs and the challenges we’ve each walked through. She and her husband, and my husband and I, along with one or two other couples have enjoyed dinner and walks and short trips all punctuated by talking, laughing and sharing our histories.
We both have busy lives, but would make time to catch up over the occasional walk or lunch. Several months had passed and when I texted her the picture of my art piece I asked about getting together. The next morning her text back informed me that she could no longer find common ground between us and the friendship was over. To say I was stunned would be like saying the sinking of the Titanic was a slight boating mishap.
When I stopped reeling from the impact of her words punching my brain, I did a reality check: had I said or done anything over the last few months that could destroy a friendship that I thought was mutual? Ok, I thought, I need an objective look at the situation. I quickly called a person who knew us both and explained what had taken place. She was more stunned than I and suggested I text her to see if there was something we could work on to keep the friendship. That seemed reasonable, so I did. I got the same generic reply.
I know I’m not the first person who’s been “dumped” by someone (Although usually it’s two people who are dating). It hurts, especially when you don’t see it coming. My equilibrium was off kilter: my emotions were bouncing from shock to anger to fear to mystification. If I wanted to regain serenity, I needed to process this and fast! I got into action by considering a few things:
- As honestly as I could, I looked at my behavior toward her over the past few months. Had it changed? My work life is very busy: web comic Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick – A Survivor’s Guide to Relationships, voice acting, getting my website MonaMarshall.net (coming in February) on line, my blog, Voices For Fun and the upcoming workshop Communication With Care. Even so, it is paramount that I remember that my relationships with people bring me (and hopefully them) joy. The joy and insight I gain fuels these various ventures. I value my relationships. I make a concerted effort not to “over share” about what I’m doing, but maybe I was and was unaware. So I checked in with the two people who always tell me the truth, even when it’s unpleasant to hear. But they had observed no change.
- Friendships change and shift. There have been times when I’ve been close with someone and then distance or work or children contribute to keeping us from seeing one another. We’re still friends. Those times we had are still valuable. Our feelings of care for one another are still there which is why the occasional text, email or phone call (yes, the cell phone is actually good for talking to someone) is a good idea.
- There is no longer enough common ground for the relationship. Maybe she’s right. Usually these friendships just fade. Even so, if we’re focusing in different directions and don’t spend much time together, does that mean a friendship must end, and all the feelings we had for one another simply cease to exist?
- 4. My personality is no longer in harmony with hers. Certainly I want to keep growing and learning, but my basic “beingness” is the same. I work diligently not to get so caught up in ego that I lose track of what is truly valuable in life: love. There are many aspects of my personality that others may not like. But those are not people who have ever been friends.
Conclusion: This “break up” may be more about her. People need different things in their lives at different times. She may no longer want what I have to offer. Not seeing much of one another, I can understand. Stopping a friendship altogether is more difficult to comprehend.
So, what do I do about all the feelings? After going through the roller coaster of emotions (thank goodness I didn’t have to stay in anger too long), I’ve A) accepted the fact that this is the way it is. B) I mostly likely will never know the actual reason she decided to end the friendship. C) Processing it is where I get to learn more about myself and (groan) grow.
When I think about my friend today, I try to picture her having everything I want in life: peace, support, care, love and courage. This will probably never make any difference in the status of our relationship, but amazingly, it makes me feel balanced.
If you’ve had a similar experience, please leave a comment. We learn from each other.