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The Limits of Friendship

November 3, 2011

I moved to Montreal after graduating university in 2008. I had arranged to graduate early, because I wanted to move to Toronto to be with the person I loved. That didn’t work out… I didn’t know what to do…

I was so depressed I nearly died from it. I still struggle with those feelings. Less and less, but they’re still there.

I decided to go back to Montreal. A city I loved. A city I love.

I moved into a great apartment in the building next to where my best friend of fifteen years lived. I was immediately accepted into her group of friends. I had great friends. I found a great job. Things were looking up, sort of. I was also heavily depressed. I cried several times a day, every day, all the time.

Things were tense between my best friend and I, and I didn’t know why. Things just felt weird. A feeling I expressed to one of the friends we had in common at the time. She suggested I talk to her about it, but I wasn’t even able to explain it to myself and couldn’t figure out how to even broach the subject.

Ok, so, I took the cowardly route and decided to wait it out until whatever it was would blow over. It didn’t.

My uncle died, the person I loved didn’t even return my call when I called him about my uncle, and about a week later I was fired. I can’t blame them, not really. I was so depressed, I was like a walking zombie. I would take bathroom breaks so I could cry a couple of minutes a day. I had no savings. No credit to rely on. No prospects. Heartbroken. Depressed. A real mess.

Right about this time, my best friend left for a two to three month trip to South America. The only thing that kept me going where the amazing people I had in my life. It felt amazing to be part of this group of incredible people.

It didn’t last.

As soon as my best friend came back from her trip, things started to go south again. The tension I spoke of before, got ten times worse and I had no idea why. Only now, it wasn’t only a feeling, but things started to be said and done that were making the situation worse.

Things got bad, really bad. It’s not just that my friendship with that particular person completely fell apart, but that it poisoned my entire life. I was suddenly the odd man out. I have never felt so alienated in all of my life, except for maybe high school. I didn’t know what to do…

I shut myself off, and eventually when I could take it anymore I moved.

I’m still not quite sure what happened to break that friendship up. The details aren’t important anymore. I just know that I have no desire to be friends with her again, which isn’t to say it’s not hard. I’ve never found it easy to make friends. I always feel a little awkward at first, and it ain’t easy to start over when you’re thirty.

I always thought my friendships, the good ones, the strong ones would last forever, but what happens when love isn’t enough? Maybe I was naive to believe it would be…

When do you stop fighting for something that is slipping away? When do you stop trying to hang on to something that just isn’t working anymore? When do you let go of people that hurt you? What are the limits of friendships?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Cate permalink
    November 3, 2011 8:07 pm

    Good questions! Don’t think I’ll be able to answer them though.

    I recently have gone through some really difficult times myself, and it has even made negative impacts on the relationships I hold dearest—my husband and children. In my case, those external forces ended up being toxic to my healthy environment, in turn, poisoing my safe zone. Currently, I’m depressed by it all. It sucks, but I have to focus on the loves in my life.

    I am a staunch believer in communication. Let it out. Share it. Spill the beans. Even yank your hair if need be. Sometimes, communication ends up being a one way street though because the other person just isn’t there. Maybe it is situational, maybe it’ll always be that way. I’ve been on both ends. Recently, I was the one talking…

    But I do understand your friendship issues; I’ve never had it easy with making strong friendships, and the ones I do have a very dear to me. But I’m always on the look out for expanding my buddy list!

  2. November 5, 2011 12:39 am

    Those are moving and honest words. Cate hit all the right points, I’m not sure what else I can say…

    The relationships we have with our loved ones and our friends very much affect who we are and how happy we are. Somehow through it all you have to not forget who you are, and try to keep rowing toward the people that you actually want around you. It’s really really hard to do sometimes, because of how molded we are to certain people, or because of patterns we learned during childhood, or just because people are complex.

    Maybe it’s a matter of brutal honesty. Honesty with yourself. Honesty with others.

    I’d say that to trace that line between holding on and letting go, you have to trust your decisions. You have to trust that whatever you decide today won’t affect tomorrow in devastating ways. Most of the time it’s true, but we tend to fear that it might. You have to trust that if today’s decision turns out bad, that you also have the ability to figure it out.

    If we do that, maybe 99% of the time we’ll be fine. Maybe it’s when we don’t do that, that we agonize and carry extra weight and end up forgetting what we stand for and what we want out of life.

    I hope you’re in a good place, Olga.

  3. November 5, 2011 3:03 pm

    @Cate: I’m sorry you went through a similar situation, but in the end it’s best to remove toxic people or relationships from your life however hard it is. Trust me, I know how hard that can be. I struggle with waiting it out. Waiting for the situation/the relationship to get better… all the while suffering for it. Sometimes it’s worth it, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

    I believe in communication as well, but find it hard. I find that with some people when things get difficult I retreat. Especially with my father, when things get hard, I retreat, turn into stone, sort of. A way to protect myself I learned when I was younger, but that isn’t effective as an adult.

    @Fruit Taster: I’m beginning to be in a better place. Last winter I hit a very low place, I got very depressed, but lately I catch myself humming in the shower and little things like that that make me believe things are better. I still need to get my life to a better place, but at least my mind is getting there.

    I think I forgot myself for a while, forgot who I was before the heartbreak of it all. Just let myself be taken over by the sadness. In a way, it was good. To be totally indulgent with “my pain”, to let it all out, and go crazy for a while instead of pushing it inside me and trying to denial it.

    Haha, I guess now, it’s time to find the happy middle.

  4. November 6, 2011 8:57 am

    I consider you a friend. I am sorry your life is not the best. The limits of friendship are based on the tolerance level of each person. If you need/want/must have someone to talk to, let me know.

  5. November 7, 2011 11:45 am

    The truth of the matter is everything ends. Nothing lasts for ever we are born live and die. Friendships come and goes, loves found and lost. Our whole existence is transiet. Its our understanding of that reality that causes all the problems. Instead of accepting the changes we try to keep things the same.
    I spent my entire childhood moving, military life does that I have no longtime friends and don’t make close freinds easily. I have suffered the loss of both of my parents my mother when I was 7 and my Dad when I was 26. I think about them daily but I understand that they are gone and accept it. When I think about the people I call freinds its a short list but the people on it accept me as I am and expect nothing from me nor do they try and change me .
    I try not to become to attached to things or people knowing that things change and end. Its not that I avoid things its that I know in advance everything ends. I choose instead to enjoy things as they happen and not attach any ownership or expectations. When sad things happen I remember that it to will pass.

    Enjoy everyday like its you last and treat everyone you meet like a long lost friend.

    Kindest regards Cruel

  6. November 9, 2011 5:06 pm

    @Biran: Thanks, Brian. Tolerance and acceptance goes a long way. It never feels good to be judged for who you are.

  7. November 9, 2011 5:12 pm

    @Cruel: “Enjoy everyday like its you last and treat everyone you meet like a long lost friend.” That’s a nice way to look at it.

    It’s true that it’s hard to accept the transient reality of the world. It’s especially true when it comes to relationship. We tend (I do anyways) believe that love, and especially friendships last forever, but they don’t, which is hard to comprehend… I mean logically it makes sense, but emotionally it’s harder to understand.

    Working on accepting the impermanence of life is a good place to start.

  8. November 11, 2011 5:49 am

    I’m always being judged my love. I can honestly say I care only for the opinions of those who love me. Work on loving yourself in all your glorious messedupness and embrace the attributes which make you a unique soul. Love isn’t only for lovers but for all those you seek harmony.


  9. November 15, 2011 10:10 pm

    I’m working on it, thanks Brian.

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