When I was younger I had many friends. Maybe there were not many by everyone’s standards, but 8-15 is many by my standards. I am talking about friends I actually hung out with. We went for long drives together, shopped together, kept each other up-to-date on the intimate details of our lives, and were like a chosen family. I cherished these relationships. I needed that kinship. I loved these people. I still love these people even though they are no longer in my life beyond perhaps the occasional facebook interaction. I felt the loss of each one of them as they drifted away. In one case, I have been particularly hurt by that loss. She was my soul sister. We knew each other about as well as we knew ourselves. We have likely even known each other better than we knew ourselves at times. When we were hurting, we came to each other. When we had sins to confess, we confessed them to each other. When we had joy, we shared that joy with each other. I loved her as much as I love myself. The last time we hung out was a normal interaction for us. That was a few years ago. Then, for reasons of her own, she stopped trying to spend time with me. First there were reasons I could understand about why she couldn’t hang out this day or that day. Then I realized she just lost interest in our kinship because a year had passed and she still hadn’t made time for me even though we lived in the same city. As busy as any person is, they can make an hour free for you from time to time if you are a priority in their lives. Even recently, I was not sure if I’d ever get over this loss. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t want to ask her about it. I didn’t want to hear excuses or that I just was not important to her anymore. Surely there was no painless way to hear why one of the most important people in my life for over a decade had essentially abandoned me.
Now I understand that losing friends, especially the one I held most dear, may have been necessary for my personal development. That means it may have been necessary for the personal development of those friends for them to let me go even when I had done no wrong to them. I realize I have drifted from male friends since I entered a highly committed relationship. It is not that they had wronged me. I have not stopped caring about their well-being. It is simply that most of my male friends were flirty and that dynamic did not work me for anymore. Also, although I appreciate their years of supportive friendship, I have a man in my life always ready to provide a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. I don’t feel the need to have deep friendships with other men because I get what I need from my romantic partner.
You may be wondering how losing beloved friends could be essential to my personal development. For starters, it forced me to be more self-sufficient when I need soothing. I can’t just pick up the phone and expect a person to come to my rescue when I want to be distracted with fun. Sometimes my grandmother fills this role, but it is not an assured fix. Another way losing friends has affected my personal development is that it has helped strengthen my romantic relationship. I say this because people often have a tendency to complain to their friends when they are having relationship problems. This does not help to fix a relationship. This actually can turn your friends against the person you love and put stress on you. Remove friends from the equation and your venting goes straight to the source so that issues can be resolved (when discussed respectfully). In relation to being better able to soothe myself, losing friends means I have had more time to focus on my own issues instead of playing the role of a therapist to multiple people.
When I had several friends it was normal for me to feel like a therapist listening and giving advice. I accepted this role fairly happily most of the time. However, for all the time I invested into the problems of my friends, I was not addressing my own problems. I was not taking the time to dive as deep into my issues as needed to resolve them. I am guessing the reason many people let go of friends is so that they can spend their free time working on their own issues. That being said, I believe there is merit to helping others deal with their issues. That is obvious if you follow my blog. However, it is necessary to find a balance between helping others and yourself. If somebody spent years helping you and ignoring their own issues, they might need years to focus on their issues without your distractions. As a bonus to dedicating time to the self, we become better capable of assisting others because we have deepened our understanding of things.
The final benefit to losing friends I will discuss in this post is that we learn more about ourselves when we start letting go of group identity. We tend to think like our friends when we are growing up. Even if we don’t think like our friends, we tend to pretend we think much like them. I will admit for me this was not much of an issue. I was always a bit of a black sheep and chose to get playfully picked on rather than adhere to ideas I didn’t feel comfortable with. Peer pressure is a major issue for many though. Remove those peers and you remove some of that pressure to fit in. Maybe you always listened to heavy metal with your friends when you were growing up. Heavy metal is what they thought was cool and you wanted to be cool. Therefore you didn’t try to branch out with your tastes. Remove those people from your life and you might discover that you absolutely love classical music. Classical music soothes you. If you hadn’t lost those previous friends, you might have continued to only listen to music that gets you amped up.
Realizing these things has helped to remove some heaviness from my heart. It helps me to forgive others and myself for leaving. May you also find forgiveness in these realizations. Blessed be, y’all.