WHEN FRIENDSHIP ENDS - HOW TO COPE
About friendship and Coping with the loss
Friendship develops when you allow someone to enter your life and share a common bond. It usually starts with selfish motives: you like something they give you whether it's immaterial or not. Some morphed into deeper level, some remains shallow. What’s hard about friendship is, much as we expect it to last for life, the looming danger happens: it ends. Someone said, “A friend is one who knows you as you are and understands where you’ve been, accepts who you’ve become and still, gently invites you to grow.” When this perception is gone – so does the friendship. It’s not something you agree to participate and forget to fulfill your end of the bargain. “Nobody’s perfect” should never be an excuse for inconsiderate actions and tacky words.
"Behavior is a mirror in which everyone shows his own image." Author unknown.
Others compare friendship with marriage. In some ways there are similarities, but mostly – it’s not. Anyone can walk away with friendship without official notice. Marriage requires legal procedure to dissolve. Friendship is more like a flower garden to me. It has to be nourished, cultivated, and fertilized regularly in order to survive and bloom beautifully. It also requires reciprocity in order to sustain the elements that formed the friendship. The bond is broken when it becomes one sided. Relationships are doomed when one party fails to nurture and contribute to the proportion.
Deciphering the various types of friends can help us determine whether keeping the friendship is worth it or not. The negative types are surefire red flags, like walking on an eggshell. Some are like parasites – they are too dependent. Some need to give unsolicited advice – makes you feel you can’t think for yourself. Some need to control the friendship. Some need to be catered to like a prima donna. Some need to hear their own voice relentlessly –inability to listen. Some are incorrigible liars. Know it all - their opinion is the only one that mattered. Some are two-faced. Some are takers. Some can’t stand it when you’re doing well. Some are users. Some are pointers – it’s always the other’s fault. Some are promise breakers. Some are toxic (worst kind) – they bring you down instead of up.
On the upside, there are friendships that last. They survive the onslaught of negative forces. Because they utilize respect for one another’s feelings, selflessness, restraint, tactfulness, giving, and know the true meaning of care. They don’t throw a fit when they don’t get their way, especially when the friendship is at the early phase. They stand by their friend’s side during good and bad times. They allow each other to grow emotionally and mentally. They both exert efforts to work out their idiosyncrasies. They are what you call – true friends.
Friendship ends for many reasons. In some cultures, friends disappear for no apparent rationale. For the majority, the “ditched” friend has done something to provoke the other’s ire. Hurling insults is a big no-no to most people. We all have our tolerance gauge for personal insults. I happen to have a very short one. I could use the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz when he said, “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if other’s insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to agreements they have in their own minds.”True, I just wish I never meet these people. Sadly, I’ve met plenty of them, and ditching is always inevitable. These people are incapable of optimum friendship if they habitually insult people to make themselves feel better.
Friendship is something I take seriously. Ditching a friend is hard for me because I invest time, skills, talents, emotions, thoughts, and money in the relationship. I try to follow the silent rule to a lasting friendship that I enumerated earlier. I don’t ditch a friend on a whim. I initially rationalize that I should accept that person at face value. But when I keep seeing red flags and start to feel I’m on a one sided amity, I ask this question: What do I get out of this friendship? If the answer is “nothing” and persist to be the same for months – I start the ditching process. It culminates with an incident that goes against my moral values, like putting me down with insulting words. There is no excuse for abusive words. I can’t allow people in my life that don’t know how to respect their so called “friends.” If I value the friendship that much, I make an effort to fix the problem. Otherwise, it becomes a point of no return. The ending is usually unofficial. I just fade away and initiate segue into a life devoid of toxicity.
Coping style is different for everybody when friendship ends. It doesn't matter what level of friendship you have after it ends, you mourn the loss whatsoever, especially when you realize that person wasn’t a real friend to begin with. Some find back biting and/or talking incessantly about the episode therapeutic. Some turn to food. Some start intermingling with other groups. Some find their way back to former friends. As for me, writing is my therapy. I’m grateful for face book, and blogging sites; they serve as vehicle for my literary expression. Everyone needs a channel to discharge pent-up emotions. When I decide to detach myself from something I used to value – I vent by posting messages to release my inner pain. If in the process, others (if you're in a group friendship) followed suit (detaching) – it’s not my intention - at all. We’re all adults and I can’t twist others’ arms to share my conviction. It only proves that my sentiment has merits. If I speak of the incident or "the straw that broke the camel's back" to others, my only goal is for them to hear the story - straight from my mouth. It's my desire to impart accuracy in relating circumstances. It's one way to prevent it from being taken out of context. I may have opened a can of worm in the process, but it's bound to happen when friendship is dysfunctional early on. That's just the dynamics of any relationship.
Finding new friends can be easy for others. But finding authentic friends is a challenge. Sometimes you don't have to look far to find one (or more), because they've been lurking in your life all along. You just need to switch your focus. We also have to remember always that it takes two to make a relationship work. Terri Guillemets said, “If I had to sum up friendship in one word, it would be COMFORT.” Amen to that.