for anyone mourning the loss of a friendship
Thinking about a broken friendship tonight. I try not to think *too* much about it, but it’s on my mind. There aren’t many words to adequately capture this particular kind of absence — absence of a friend who was once so close. Feelings of anger and betrayal come up, also guilt and tiredness. But also, happy memories and smiles from the beautiful, good times. I listened to an interview with Hayley Williams the other day where she described the feelings of loneliness, displacement and heartbreak from losing a friend, and it resonated with me. Paramore’s song Tell Me How is a good descriptor of a lot of what I’m feeling—the confusion about where everything is at, if I should reach out or just move on. I can’t call you a stranger, but I can’t call you. This is a lot harder than any “breakup” — I don’t even know if it’s a breakup? Or more of just a slow, sad fading. But, I am releasing all anger. No anger, no hatred, no hard feelings. Trying to release with love what I once idolized.
My heart hurts, but maybe it’s time to move on for now. I realize how I view my friendships (how high I hold them on a pedestal, what I think of them) needs to be a little more realistic and fluid. People are people. I will never ever stop loving my friend or stop thinking of her from time to time. And I think that’s the key that’s been hard — loving people for who they are now in the messiness, but also having boundaries for yourself — a difficult task. Both loving, but also letting go (another kind of loving.)
I recently read part of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science and there’s this beautiful little paragraph where he writes about a lost friendship — what he calls a ‘star friendship.’
“Star friendship. — We were friends and have become estranged. But this was right, and we do not want to conceal and obscure it from ourselves as if we had reason to feel ashamed. We are two ships each of which has its goal and course; our paths may cross and we may celebrate a feast together, as we did — and then the good ships rested so quietly in one harbor and one sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the almighty force of our tasks drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we shall never see one another again, — perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us! That we have to become estranged is the law above us: by the same token we should also become more venerable for each other! And thus the memory of our former friendship should become more sacred! There is probably a tremendous but invisible stellar orbit in which our very different ways and goals may be included as small parts of this path, — let us rise up to this thought! But our life is too short and our power of vision too small for us to be more than friends in the sense of this sublime possibility. — Let us then believe in our star friendship even if we should be compelled to be earth enemies.” (Nietzsche The Gay Science, book IV)
Dear star friend, I hope you are well. I miss you, I do. I am hurt by your silence but I want you to know I care about you very much. I do not want to pour salt into old wounds. But I care, and always will. I don’t really know exactly what caused the falling out, but if this is best for you then it is okay with me. I realize I also needed time for myself. Part of moving on is being okay with who I am becoming, but I really did think we could grow together. And that’s what hurts a lot about this—that it all just fell to silence. But I place no blame or grudge on you. I am sorry for pain I caused and hope that you find peace. Maybe one day our paths will cross again and we can be friends. But if not, I am forever thankful for all we shared. I do wish all the best to you. We are both human and that is the reality, and it is okay to grow and change at different paces.
“Stars are distant, like the friendships of yesteryear. They look bright, as you remember the good times. But the great thing about stars is that they don’t cast a shadow over you now. So too might old friendship, once a blessing, now broken. It is not easy to find the place where they don’t cast a shadow of guilt or bitterness or loss. But the star metaphor might keep you headed in a better direction. It holds out the hope that one day you will wake up and realize that you’re over the friendship, it was good, and all will be well.” — Mark Vernon
All will be well.
top artwork: Women and Orange Trees by Baya Mahieddine