Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Lost Friendship

Trix and I have been ruminating and chatting about loss of friendship a lot because it's been happening a lot recently.

I don't mean the slow, gradual burnout that happens to some friendships -- because those are, in my experience, totally reparable. You lose contact with someone, you reconnect with them a year, two years, five years down the line and it's like no time at all has passed. My childhood best friend Adam Lee and I do that all the time. We lose contact with each other for, like, a year or two or ten at a time, but when we finally do reconnect, we're still those dorky kids on the playground with our Star Wars toys. Really, our friendship never died, it just gets put into suspended animation occasionally due to circumstance, but it's still totally real and fierce, y'know? I'd still take a bullet for that mothafucka even thirty years later.

No, I'm talking about the abrupt, sudden stabbing death caused by actually having to shove a friend out of your life for whatever reason, or alternately, being shoved out of someone's life. Sometimes, it's really just a case of "who's the first person to call it quits" -- the friendship was probably over already, otherwise no shoving would have to be done, right? Other times, one person still wants the friendship to continue but for whatever reason the other one doesn't. Either way -- it hurts. People tell you "oh, it's for the better" or "oh, really, you're better off without those people in your life," or come up with all kinds of excuses WHY it happened or HOW it happened, but it still hurts. It's no less real than actually losing those people entirely, like if they actually died. That's what it feels like. That's the only thing I can compare it to.

And it isn't just an "ouch, it hurts," either, like a jab from a needle at the doctor's office; it's more a multiphased pain that lasts a long damn time.

You go through the questioning phase, like -- did I ever matter to that person in the first place? What the fuck did I do so wrong that's causing this? Am I a bad person, or am I a callous person, or was I not enough of a friend in the first place? Was our friendship ever even real to begin with? This phase probably hurts the worst, because you feel like you're to blame for the friendship ending. You start going over and over and over in your head what you could have done differently and keep coming up with no answers, or answers that don't fit the bill, or answers that only solve PART of the problem. I mean, nobody's a saint, right? It's always two-sided, but sometimes you don't come up with enough that accounts for something as harsh as the end of a friendship, and that just leads you to question yourself more. You're sure it had to be your fault.

And then you go through the demonizing phase. And that's like -- fuck that person. I mean, how could they not see that I'm good enough for them? How could they be such a horrible person that they could do this to me? I suppose your typical "five stages" model would see this as the "anger" phase, but it's more than that. It's a kind of ritual hardening-of-the-heart, a protection against further pain, an assurance that your feelings for that person become less than they were before because if they were as strong as they were before, you just know they're gonna hurt you again, right?

I suppose the final phase is something like "acceptance," but you never really accept it. Not really. It's like -- it's over. Sure. That person isn't my friend anymore. But it still hurts. There's still that last lingering shred of pain that might fade to a dull throb but never really leaves your heart. There are triggers -- they're everywhere, right? And everytime you run across one, you get that reminder again. Oh yeah. There was this person in my life, and they're not there anymore, and they will never be again. And even if the pain is just a dull throb, it still hurts.

Losing a friend is no less painful than losing a relationship, frankly. I mean, who do you have in your life except your friends and your family? And for lots of us -- especially someone like me who didn't have siblings growing up -- your friends are just as important as your family, and your loyalty is fierce and unswerveable except in the face of what I'd call X-Treme Circumstance. But I think people don't realize how painful it is, because some people haven't gone through it. It's like how some people don't understand how much divorces hurt, right? 'Cause they've never had one? "Get over it," they tell you. "Divorces happen."

That's something I don't ever wanna hear again. I guess all things "just happen," right? That's kinda self-explanatory. But it doesn't make the pain any less real, or palpable.

Anyway, losing friends sucks.


Anonymous said...

yes. it does suck, and it hurts every day.

ashley said...

Awww, thanks for writing about this Jonny. I've been going through this for a while now, it's getting easier, but still it's hard and frustrating. I love my friends like I love my family, and anytime one is lost, it's like losing a little piece of me.

belsum said...

I still, even 15 years later, have dreams of reconnecting with my best friend from high school and having it be one of those suspended animation friendships instead of the stabbing death that I know it really was. And I still question what it was that I did wrong and wish he would have just told me instead of cutting off all contact entirely.

MissTrixi said...

"Friendship is a personal relationship shared between each friend for the welfare of other, in other words, it is the relationship of trust, faith and concern for each other feelings. It is a relationship of mutual caring and intimacy among one another. A friend is one who knows you as a person and regards you for what you are and not what he or she is looking in a good friend. Best friend is one who accepts the good as well bad qualities of his friend and also takes an initiative in correcting and mending them. Friendship is a distinctive kind of concern for your friend, it is a relationship of immense faith and love for each other."

They say that the pain one suffers in a divorce is very much the same as one suffers from the death of a loved one. I think this can also be said regarding the loss of a friendship too. In fact, the 'loss of one still living' can be worse because you suffer a deliberate loss of trust, love and affection. There are choices made in this kind of circumstance, and the choices are not usually for all parties involved. In most cases, it's ONE person that holds the fate of the relationship in their hands, and that one person will drop or even throw away that fate.

The greatest key to this kind of loss is honesty. So often greater hurt can be avoided and relationships can be saved if people are just honest with one another. Lack of honesty is utter lack of respect, and that is where the friendship/relationship suffers most. Sometimes with honesty comes pain, but that first little sting heals far easier than the deep wound that dishonesty and lies create. And honest dialog can do nothing but strenghen ones standing, because you cant' work to fix things without honesty.

There ARE those that find friendships to be disposable and don't care who they hurt. Those people are SOCIOPATHS and they lack to capacity to handle a real friendship. If you get involved with one of those, then just thank your lucky stars when THAT relationship ends...... then RRRRUUUUUUNNNNNN!

*gets off soapbox and kicks it to the corner*

MissTrixi said...

(sorry kids...I should have started my own blog with that one :-p )

LAP said...

I love the part of the definition Trixi posted "it is a relationship of immense faith and love for each other" and unfortunately when a friendship has ended or is somehow severed that's the points that I find myself mulling over- because losing a friend seems so unfathomable that I go over how it could be fixed, or what failure of perception I might have had that could be altered and the like. It's the loss of faith that makes it hurt I think.

Becky said...

Yep and yep. You completely nailed the whole issue. I went through a major loss of a close friend before I moved out to the States. It still kind of bothers me,even though I know it was for the best. You are right when you say it can be as painful as the end of a relationship. It's a very interesting area and very complex too. That was one of your best posts, in my opinion.

Beques said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marne said...

well anyone who would let you or Trix go is insane, so whatever to them, they're just plain dumb! I'm never letting you both go whether you like it or not.

Yes, that's a little Fatal Attraction there, but it was meant to be sweet, love you guys!

Jon Hunt said...

Good words, Beques, but the post isn't really about the person you think it is, though they undoubtedly think it is (isn't everything?) -- it's really about a buncha other people, kind of a culmination of a YEAR of that kinda thing. But good words nonetheless. You KNOW I'm a classic misanthropist in general.

Jon Hunt said...

And yay, Marne, I'd be happy to have you cook our pet rabbit in our pot anytime.

That sounds dirty but it ain't meant to!!!

MissTrixi said...

Well, MY input is about ALL those that have left my life of late. The 'Your So Vain' Person (that thinks this post is about them), and then some. There has been a lot of this kind of malarky going on in my life for a couple of years now. A whole lotta no fun!

And we love your fatal attraction love Marne! Bring it!!!!

(yes...I have referenced Ms. Simon's work twice in one sue me. It's a good song!!!)


Marne said...

Oh I'll cook your rabbit, and I'll cook it good!

I'm bringin' it, just you two wait...

Anonymous said...

Lost friendship is like someone dying, in the way that you never "get over it", at best, "you just learn to live with it."