At the lunch table with my buddies from class last week, someone asked me about a friend that has recently slipped out of my circle in just the last few months. It was a fall-out that was difficult and confrontational, yet very essential for me, because it demanded a level of strength and honesty out of me that I had hitherto not extended to very many relationships. It made me confront some “not so nice” parts of myself that otherwise remain hidden, presenting a “good” but continuously inauthentic self to the world out there. It made me sit with being the “bad guy” in that conversation and situation, and yet be the one that could be honest, take a stand and stick by it.
In many ways it was one of those pivotal events of the last six months that pushed me to embrace parts of my shadow, without which there’s no beginning to step into my full power.
It has taken me many months to accept that the cost of that degree of honesty — the cost of owning my full power — is sometimes the friendship itself. One would like to think that with enough time and healing, repair is possible. But it is not always the case. A great degree of honesty can only pay off if and when the other is strong enough to hold that honesty too. And even though I wasn’t holding out for it, the confirmation that this wasn’t going to happen, was a bitter pill to swallow. Because it meant temporarily facing the empty space that the friend has left behind. Staring at the vacuum where that friendship used to be, and wondering when it will be filled with something else, something hopefully more meaningful, authentic and fulfilling.
Even though I ponder about the coming and going of friends, how dynamics with pretty much all my friends have been altered so much as I figure myself out, every time that there is a development, it is just as bittersweet as it was the very first time. One doesn’t get to acceptance and peace without first going through the initial throes of anger. It’s difficult to reach a place of compassion and forgiveness towards oneself without first submitting to beating myself up a bit. And so I have time and again felt caught up in a loop, wanting freedom, wanting to let people from my past go fully.
And so, in the months since, every time I’ve been triggered by a memory, or a glimmer of something form the past that I have shared with said friend, I have been filled with rage for allowing myself to feel so used and dispensable, self-loathing for not seeing the signs sooner, anger for sometimes sensing them and brushing them aside anyway, regret for allowing fear to take over and for being a pushover, and for “wasting” so many years putting up with inauthenticity.
But somehow that day, for the first time, I found myself very easily, reflexively saying, We’re not friends anymore, without feeling compelled to explain those words. That truth.
Of late, I have seen that I find myself in conversations about the the difficulties of navigating friendship as an adult, a lot more than before. Every time that it comes up, a little something in me is triggered, and finds a new settlement again. That’s what happened at the lunch table the other day. Then on Sunday, N and I talked about how growing spiritually, continually and deliberately, means letting go of people more frequently than one otherwise would and how it means facing the empty spaces more often. This morning in a reading for D, about friendship, I found myself answering a question I had myself been simmering over for a while — when do you know it’s time to let go?
Coincidentally (but really, these aren’t coincidences anymore) I saw this on The Artidote’s Instagram page, that I visited after literally six months.
Forgive yourself for all of the relationships and friendships you settled for when you weren’t in your power.
I had realised earlier this morning that all of this has everything to do with feeling and owning one’s own power. The ability to face the truth, to know what you’re holding on to even in a failing friendship, to see the truth about allowing yourself to be “used”, to know when to let go — none of this is truly possible unless I am fully, feet-firmly-in-place feeling my power. Because when the ground beneath my feet shifts from asking some of these questions and facing the answers that emerge, I need to know I can hold myself through it. And not in a delusional way, but in an authentic, compassionate way that allows me to free myself from bitterness, regret and the very notion that I had made a mistake.
One year ago: I need to free my mind and see what I’m feeling