I’m back with another prompt from The Isolation Journals and this one brings me to a topic I’ve been avoiding writing about, for a long time. The prompt asks us to reflect on a new beginning that was meaningful. There are so many new beginnings I could write about – starting university, moving to a new city, meeting my current partner, getting a new job, though these are all bookmarks I’ve spoken and thought about enough.
Instead, I feel prompted to write about when I decided to move on from an old friend and just let things be. This ‘beginning’ is meaningful for me because I let go of so much cyclical, negative and unhelpful thinking. I decided to let myself be happy, I accepted it’s okay to move on from people, and realised it’s okay if people move on from you.
It all started nearly two years ago when I noticed old friend of mine was pulling away from me. Taking ages to reply to my messages, flaking when I tried to catch up, not messaging me first. It’s such an old tale, and almost everyone will experience it at some point in their life. This friend and I had known each other since we were pre-teens and became particularly close during our late teenage years and early twenties. About 4 years ago we both moved to different cities, started new jobs and both got into romantic relationships.
As she was pulling away from me, I felt confused and hurt, but mainly torn about whether or not I should confront her about it. Do I want to make a deal out of this? Should I just let sleeping dogs lie? I kept my distance, but still checked in every now and then. She then went through a significant life change, and that’s when the proper drift started to happen. I could see it all unfolding in front of me, and I felt my self-esteem waver. I knew logically that I needed to move on, but I was reluctant to let go of someone I’d known and trusted for so long.
However much I knew I needed to let go, I persisted. I kept reaching out, coming up with excuses for conversation, suggesting we meet up. I got polite, late replies, though not the same energy I experienced in our friendship years before. I felt sad looking at her social media posts, to the point that I deleted Instagram for weeks at at a time so I wouldn’t have to see her photos. As much as I hated to admit it at the time, we had gone down different paths and it’s unlikely they were ever going to cross over again.
Eventually, at the end of last year, I made a decision. I decided this was a 2019 problem and that this anxiety would not follow me into the new year. No longer would I believe that I’d failed at maintaining an old friendship. I realised that one of the few reasons I couldn’t move on was because she was one of my oldest friends, not necessarily because we had anything in common anymore. I realised that long term friendships between women are heavily romanticized, but that didn’t mean I had to hold onto all of mine. I made a promise to myself to move forward, and I was determined to keep it.
And so for the new beginning.
This year I have still thought of this friend on occasion, though it’s all been with a different mindset. I’ve sent her positive energy and given myself permission to move forward. I have looked back on our friendship as incredibly formative for me. I have smiled at the memories we’ve shared, sleepovers, nights out, trips overseas. I’ve focused on the friendships in my life that are present, and am grateful for the ones that have come and gone, but still left an important mark on me.
When I look back on last year, I feel sad that I left myself gather up so much self-doubt, all because one friendship was going through a change. Though, I do believe it’s okay to feel sad when something ends, because it means that it mattered. I also feel relieved that I made the decision to move forward, and had the discipline to repeatedly choose a pattern of thinking that was better for my mental health.
This friendship will always matter to me, and so will the beginning of letting it go. Maybe one day we will cross paths again, but for now I need to forge my own. People in your life will come and go, but the person in the mirror will always be there, and I’m grateful for the day I decided to prioritize that person’s mental wellbeing.