Have you ever had a really close friend who seemed to get you? I mean really get you unlike anyone else you had ever met?
At the time you met them you were possibly nursing a broken heart, mourning a loved one, despising a job, struggling with weight or trying to cast off singleness as if it were a malady. When we transition through some of our greatest life challenges, our friends are who we lean on, who we seek counsel from and who makes us feel human and seen.
Sometimes the pain is general like low self-esteem, attention seeking, being broke or feeling insecure.
Anytime an issue arises related to the pain we are enduring, we find a moment to give them a ring. We share every detail of our experience as if we are writing a script for a hit television drama. They feed off our stories and we theirs. Our commonalities become a life line, a survival raft in the ocean of emotions we are experiencing on a daily basis.
When we bond through pain, relationships are often forged in a fog; a fog of loneliness and despair.
What happens when our pain no longer defines us?
When and if we ever move on from our pain, what are we left with? When one friend finally gets over that emotionally abusive relationship, or one is promoted to a job she loves, or one sheds the unhealthy pounds or one is united with the love of her life and decides she is done with singled.
How do we cope with these total relationship shifts? How do we avoid being in new situations but being counseled by our friends with old information?
If you are anything like me you may have struggled with trying to hold together the remnants of the past while attempting to create something new. It takes maturity and honesty in a friendship to see each other as the people we are aiming to become and not as the “mess” we met each other in.
Whether you are the one who has grown or someone else has, no one should be penalized for moving on from pain. And no one should be belittled for not.
At any given time, we are all struggling with something. We all have that something that is a hard lesson for us or a recurring theme, a place where we might be stuck. The important thing to remember is that getting unstuck is not an easy task. While it’s common to see the friend who hasn’t changed as a thorn in your backside, it is emotionally honest to see them as an essential chapter in your journey of personal growth.
When we are no longer fighting the vicissitudes of life but instead flowing with them, an internal peace is realized. Any fighters in our lives become noisy and their energy, overbearing. Drama attracts drama and peace attracts peace. Many friendships don’t survive total shifts or they become different types friendships, ones we don’t recognize and may sometimes sabotage because the newness is uncomfortable. The roles have shifted. We might echo the phrase, “So and so is acting funny since _____________________”.
When we make a decision not to live inside of our pain but to instead observe it, bonding over pain is no longer a healthy option. We understand that these relationships do not provide us with enough substance to endure or enough positivity to feel good about ourselves. No one owes anyone a connection that no longer works for us and nor do we owe each other dissertations on why the connection no longer works.
We have to allow others to grow, flourish and be okay; to experience their pain, get through it and arrive on the other side of it. And if we are patient enough, we just might see that there is still a friendship on a deeper level we have yet to explore. Without masks, hierarchies and competition; we realize the pain was not our only resource but instead a stepping stone on the way to a true connection worth lasting a lifetime.