As a child I would call someone a friend without hesitation. If you were nice to me, you were my friend. If you shared something with me and I with you, you were my friend. If we shared a commonality, you were my friend. I used to think friendships were meant to last forever. As a child I envied my parents when they would run into old friends from their childhood. They would greet each other and quickly catch up on the things going on in each other’s lives. After they wished each other well and departed, my mom or dad would tell me memorable stories about the individual or a memorable, mostly funny, experience they had with the individual when they were kids or young adults.
Seeing their eyes light up and hearing their tone of excitement when telling the stories is one of the things that encouraged me to value friendship. With age, I’ve come to understand that the circumstances of life could change friendships. I used to talk on the phone with my friends everyday in high school and college, but once we all started working and valuing sleep and rest, the calls diminished; but our friendship has remained strong. We do not talk everyday but when we do talk or see one another, it’s as though we last communicated the previous day. I used to hang out with my friends every Friday and Saturday night, but once LIFE got in the way those times faded, yet we remain friends and we attend each other’s special events to catch up, reminisce and of course “rib” and clown each other
One thing I was never prepared for was losing a friend; not due to death, but due to circumstance. The bible says “ One who has friends must show themselves friendly…”. I am a good friend and I always thought the friends I had throughout my twenties and early thirties would be my friends throughout the rest of my life. About 4 or 5 years ago, I did an evaluation of people I was connected to and I realized that there were a few who were literally draining me! I was depositing so much into the friendship and it was never reciprocated. They became comfortable tying me to their whipping post (metaphorically speaking) and I accepted it and tried fixing “it, but I could never fix “it” because I didn’t see myself as they saw me. Once I realized that the issue wasn’t me, I had to figure out how to let the friendship go. It was extremely hard. EXTREMELY! There are songs on how to break up with a lover. There are books on how to deal with the death of a loved one. But there was no guide on how to end a friendship; so surely friendship should last forever no matter the circumstance, right? I thought “maybe I should just accept that that’s how they are”. NOPE! WRONG!
I felt ending the friendships was more difficult than breaking up with someone I thought I was in love with and as hard as not getting into a class I wait-listed for. How would I look ending a friendship that has lasted so long? What if they are in dire need and they need my advice and they get bad advice from someone else because I’m not around? What if something bad happens to them after our friendship has ended? Will I feel guilty? These were all the questions I continuously asked myself and stressed about. I finally got to a point where I realized that a true friend would not allow me to feel this way. A real friend will add and multiply to my life; not subtract and divide from it. A real friendship would not drain me at the sight of seeing a texting message from them chastising me with their “you should’ve, you could’ve, you would’ve” nonsense. So, you know what I did? I asked God to show me, ME and God showed me that I am a good person and that everyone is not worth my time nor energy AND that friendships are not required to last forever. The 5 minutes that I waste listening to them gripe about me not meeting up to their expectations is time that I could have spent on the phone with a family member or friend that appreciates me just as I am. I was reminded of how reciprocity exists with my other friends, both tangible and intangible. Not long after this “awakening”, I received a call from one of the individuals that I knew I had to break away from. She had no idea that when she called me “poppin’ off” that I would cut her off mid convo and end the friendship at that moment…and I did. I explained to her that our lives going in different directions and it was best we end our relationship as friends because I was not happy knowing that I was not the friend that she needed. She was speechless and hung up in my face. She sent a very nasty text message a few minutes later and I politely blocked her from calling or texting me again. Immediately, a weight was lifted. The feeling felt so freeing that it confirmed that letting certain friends go may be necessary for my own mental health.
PEOPLE COME AND THEY GO…EVEN FRIENDS and I am okay with that. My friend Denise’s late mother Mary used to say, “You can’t choose your family, so you better do a DAMN good job choosing your friends!”. I have learned to value the friends that are currently in my life. I am grateful for each of them. We all pour into each other’s life and uplift each other. I have different circles of friends from different stages of my life and it feels great seeing them all get along when I invite them to my events. I am grateful that the friends that I have are the friends that I have chosen. We are not friends out of obligation. We value one another. Are you holding on to friendship out of obligation, instead of desire? Don’t be afraid to let go!