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Leaning In and Letting Go
Teri Brown - Young Adult Author

Leaning In and Letting Go

It’s strange. Now that I’ve reached a certain age, I can see my past friendships more clearly and because of this, I’ve become more resigned that some friendships, no matter how close we were formerly, just never had the steam to make it. There are those that last a long time and those that fade quickly, but perhaps the ones that are the most puzzling are those that last for 20 some odd years and then just sort of implode or fade away.

Remember when you were a child how easy it was to make friends? We both want to play on the swings so let’s be besties. As you grow, friendships became more and more complicated. By high school, friendships are like minefields—fraught with danger and oh, so very important. After school, making friends becomes more difficult. With work and children, friendships sort of happen on the fly. It’s a self-preservation thing—your child has reflux, my child has reflux, please for the love of god, be my friend. Or with work friends, it’s like we’re at the same place at the same time want to grab a drink before heading home? Proximity and convenience friendships are very real and for good reason. Some of these friendships last and some don’t.  This is a pattern that has repeated throughout my life—some  last, others don’t.

Sometimes you really hit it off with someone and after a few months they’re just too busy to meet up anymore. It takes me a while, but I usually get the hint. Others last a few a few months and then suddenly I’m too busy to meet up and they get the hint. (Others never seem to get the hint but that’s a whole nother blog!) Not all friendships are meant to last. There are still other friends that you love but neither one of you seem to make time to get together no matter how close you once were. You’re still friends on social media and you send them a card for Christmas, but that’s it. Some friends, god bless their hearts, you can go a year or so without seeing and when you do get together, it’s as if you just spoke last week.

The twenty-plus-year friendships that implode are the hardest to explain. Sometimes I think that you just outgrow them. I had some very good friends during my evangelical Christian period that I just don’t see anymore. They’re aware of my change of heart and perhaps they can't reconcile themselves to the fact that someone they once thought they were going to hang out with for eternity is now choosing hell. (Better drinks). Or maybe their spouses found out and realized that not only am I no longer in the fold, I’m most decidedly anti-fold, and they put their dominant foot down. (Many religions frown on people hanging out with non-members, and evangelical husbands, especially, can have real hesitations about their wives hanging out with an intelligent, irreverent, contentious woman. And yeah, I’m an intelligent, irreverent, and contentious woman. Which makes me a lot of fun to be around, but again, that’s a whole nother blog.)

It’s also difficult to keep friendships going in the age of social media. Some people who I thought were sane turned out to be bat-shit crazy and there are those, especially during this political year, whom I'm just like, “Oh, dear lord, I didn’t know! You think what? You support whom? How are we supposed to go out for coffee? I can’t even look at you! In fact, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth…” On the other hand, the Internet has brought me some really close friends that I've met in real life and would totally go to bat for. From, you know, afar.

It can be sad to lose friendships, but sometimes it’s liberating. Like peeling off  jeans that don’t fit any more and screaming, “SCREW IT, I’M WEARING YOGA PANTS!” Other times you just nod sadly and think, yeah, it’s for the best. Sometimes there’s just too much history to pretend that either of you have anything in common any more. As I’ve grown older, I realize that is better for me to have a handful of real friends that I can invest in than it is to have a lot of friendships that I don’t have the time for. That’s the leaning in part of this blog.

The point, I think, is to be open to new friendships and relationships while remaining committed to the ones that are mutually satisfying and edifying and letting go of those that aren’t.

3 Responses to Leaning In and Letting Go

  1. Shannon McKelden says:

    I used to get really upset when I’d lose a friendship, but then I read somethimg about people coming into your life only for as long as you need them. And then they move on. It made me a bit more philosophical about it. But great points!

    • TeriBrown says:

      I think that it takes a while to get past that feeling of being rejected when a friendship doesn’t work out. Takes a while but being philosophical about it is just so much smarter than eating ourselves up over something that may actually have very little to do with us.

  2. Ann says:

    I think the hardest part is when a friend decides you’re an idiot. It may not be verbal, but it’s there…hanging in the air. Over the last few years I find my circle of friends shrinking. I’m no longer invited to social events and often learn of invitations as an after thought. All of which is okay. My life is complicated and I cannot honestly think of a single friend, past or present, who gets me. I no longer fit in with the conservative types and the libs won’t have me. Again it’s fine. I have finally come to a point in my life where I truly no longer care what others think. And that is liberating.