A few years ago, I let go of one of my oldest friendships.
We had known each other since kindergarten. I wasn’t her best friend. That was someone else. They exchanged handwritten letters daily and were always glued together. I admit I was a bit jealous of that. I was friends with both of them but always felt kind of like the 5th wheel. We became close friends in our teenage years however, when we started going out and partying. This was mainly due to her brother who was older and had a car. But it was as good a reason as any to be friends.
As we got older, we moved in and out of each others lives and became close again when I moved back to Luxembourg after several years in Paris. We would meet for dinners and afternoons of shopping. She got married and divorced, then had a baby and I became a godmother.
I am not sure when our lives shifted. Maybe the shift was always there. But at one point things didn’t feel aligned anymore. We were no longer interested in the same things, didn’t seem to value the same things. But we continued to meet. As friends do. Sometimes months would go by. Sometimes I had the feeling it was always me keeping this friendship going. I am sure she felt the same way.
But I continued. Because she was my childhood friend. Because she was one of the only people in the world who knew all these tiny little things about me when I was a kid. Because I was the godmother of her child. Because my mom always asked how she was. Because…
As time went one we saw each other less. And less. And at some point I asked myself why that was.
And the answer was: because this friendship was no longer feeding me.
Each meeting felt like a duty. I would get upset about something she did or didn’t do because it was so far away from my life values. Instead of lifting me up, our meetings drained me.
So I let go.
And I felt bad. Guilty. Sad. Because it meant letting go part of my childhood. And because, for whatever stupid reason, I had thought that some friendships were forever. Especially the ones you form when you’re a kid.
I haven’t met or heard from her in years.
Yet she is still in my life because she is part of my past and I sometimes think of her.
I no longer feel guilty. I now know that friendships come and go. And since then I have made new friends. They didn’t know me back then but I have to say that in the few years they have been my friends they have come to know me so much better than my childhood friend ever did.
Friendships can only last if they grow over time. If they evolve with how you evolve. If you are willing to continue to be vulnerable, open and authentic. But it’s okay if they don’t.
Some friendships come and go. I have lost touch with friends I met in my teens and twenties and re-connected with them again 20 years later and we picked up like we never parted.
Some friendships serve a certain period or phase in your life. When you start your business and you need a mentor. Or when you are going through tough times and need people around you who are in a similar situation. And when you move on and out, you realise that that was all you had.
Some friendships are long distance and only get a few visits or phone calls a year. But when you connect it seems to catch up in no time.
Some friendships are only virtual and although you’ve never met it feels like you have.
Some friendships are only in one specific area in your life (like that person you go to the movies with but don’t share anything else with, or that friend who loves art/horses/wine/crochet as much as you do,…)
Some friendships only exist at work. And if you leave, they end.
Some friendships cross generations and offer so much learning on both ends.
Some friendships only serve to learn a lesson.
Some friendships are totally inexplicable to the outside world.
Some friendships are between humans and animals, or people who don’t even speak the same language.
Some friendships are slow and quiet, some are loud and crazy.
But all friendships are about a connection. They are about about love. But they are about so much more than that.
They are about being seen and heard and valued for who we really are.
And when that huge bit of being seen, heard and valued isn’t happening anymore, it is okay to let it go.