The numbness I began to feel towards the other person, the times I knew I should reach out but didn’t, the times I left messages unread and unanswered, and the times I let trivial arguments become big deals that could no longer be hidden under carpets without bulging out. I only know of my wrongs, my contribution to the lifelessness that is now the bulk of my friendships.
Mulling over the many friendships I have had the opportunity to experience often leaves me in a state of gratitude. Because I’m aware that in many ways, I did not make these friendships. They happened to me in times I really needed them to.
Friendships, to me, have been one of the ways God reaches out, reassuring me that he cares about the season I’m in. I have had times of deadness, flourishing, and even self-inflicted regression. But through it all, there’s been a friend or a semblance of one; something I’m extremely grateful for.
With the amount of gratitude I nurse over friendships, one would think I have been equally good at sustaining and maintaining them. But I have not. I’ve allowed one too many people slip from my hands, and even my heart. I have allowed the transient seasons of my life become the transience of my friendships too. Only few have moved on with me. And whether this is a blame that should be shared between both parties is not quite the point.
Because I only know of the numbness I began to feel towards the other person, the times I knew I should reach out but didn’t, the times I left messages unread and unanswered, and the times I let trivial arguments become big deals that could no longer be hidden under carpets without bulging out. I only know of my wrongs, my contribution to the lifelessness that is now the bulk of my friendships.
You know, I used to think friendships and life are a lot like each other. The mere fact that birth and death could be possible of the two made me hold firmly to my thoughts. And while I might have been right, I have now learnt the dissimilarity in them: Life dies inevitably, but friendship dies in a process that can be stopped. And so in the story of every dead friendship are two parties who stopped pumping in life, who stopped trying. Maybe gradually, maybe suddenly, but still stopped.
This realization leaves me scared for the friendships I’m still privileged to be a part of. What if it happens again? The predictable cycle of walking away—most times so subtly you don’t even realize—from what once kept you sane, what once helped you cope, what once filled at least a few of the many voids in your heart. And then on to another and another, in a bid to satiate what is your thirst for a shared happiness, a seeming belonging, an exclusiveness to one person or a group of people. Because there must be someone to crack the inside jokes with, and send the funny memes to, and generally talk about both the mundane and intense matters of life with. And when that person is absent, life feels half-lived.
I wish I had an answer to the conundrum that is maintaining healthy friendships. But I don’t. These days, many things elude me: life, faith, the cruelty of humanity—and relationships. I wish all the friends from ten years back could still be called friends. I wish relationships never end. But wishes are not horses and if the lessons learnt from those friendships are all I still have, then I’ll hold on to them, clasp them tightly within my fingers, engrave them in my heart and be grateful for the privilege of once having them, of once having such life-changing people walk the paths of my heart. People I barely deserved.
What manner of friends have you lost? What would you do—or have done—to have them back?