Was great to read this because just recently I myself let another friend go and it was pretty painful. He’d been a great close friend for many years but something had changed and I was drifting away. He asked me why (Katie Simpson’s piece is interesting from the other side - I’ve been there too) and out of respect I felt like I owed him an answer. So I thought carefully. Even though some of the things I was going to say were probably going to hurt him I tried to do it in a caring way. We’d always said we valued honesty and straightforwardness above all.
Well, he argued back on all four of my reasons and I had to admit that he was right and I was wrong. All of my “reasons” were indefensible, petty in light of the depth of our relationship, or just plain wrong. I struggled. Even if all of my reasons for no longer being close with him were incorrect, it didn’t change the fact that I felt differently. What was going on? It was as if he’d asked me why the seasons changed and I said it was because of the economy. Of course that’s ridiculous and he called me on it. But it didn’t change the fact that the season had changed. I didn’t know how to explain it any more than that, and I felt terrible about it. Your piece helps me feel a little less alone and, in that, a little less terrible I suppose.
In facing the truth about my “seasons” I wondered where the change came from. As I pondered, I began to see the patterns in my life and realize that I, like you, have been doing this for ages - partly because of family history and partly due to complex emotional reasons. But I also think it is something else. I have had many interests in life and have developed many skills, but personal growth is probably my biggest hobby. I spend a lot of time exploring, searching, and willing to face difficult things in life head on (especially myself and my foibles) and grow from them. As a result, I am constantly evolving. People who are constantly evolving (both me and many of the people I have considered my closest friends over the years) are unlikely to consistently evolve in the same directions as the people in their lives. Considered from this perspective it seems unrealistic that the things that made us close will continue to keep us close. That helped me explain it a bit better to myself, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still end up hurting people that I really don’t want to hurt. I just keep trying to find ways to be less hurtful.
The funniest thing to me about this particular friend, is that a while back we were joking with a third friend who sent us both a Liz Hackett tweet for amusement: “Facebook makes me miss when a certain person’s boat would just drift away from yours in the natural current of life and that was how it was.” My response to my pals: “Just remember this when you all get outboard motors from me for Christmas…” Little did I know then that barely more than a year later I would, in fact, be dropping my own motor, on both of them.