So this post… is personal.

30 Apr

If you’re looking for my usual feminist analysis of pop culture/ society / politics, look for my next post. I was originally going to use this to make my own version of this really awesome countdown of the top 25 female roles in television that my friend Nicole showed me (and I’m not going to tell you what I was going to put on it because I fully intend to write that post at a later date… one spoiler… it will probably include Buffy. Haha. Big spoiler, right?) So! If you do not want to hear about the things I’m working through in my head, if you really feel like there’s enough sadness going on in your own life, if you feel like this is inappropriate use of blog space, or if you’re just really too busy, it’s totally OK by me if you stop reading now.

Just to make sure you’re really in it for the long haul, I’m going to put some of my favorite hats from the royal wedding between here and the rest of this post. Some of them are awesome, some of them are JUST PLAIN CREEPY.

Oh, Posh Spice, that's not a hat...

...THIS is a hat!

These two were almost the most ridiculous hats there...

...but these two take the cake.

(All of the photos above came from an extensive and entertaining gallery on The Daily Beast.

So, now down to biznass. Recently, Aprils have not been so great for me. Of course, two Aprils ago, I was halfway through my semester in Estonia, I believe on a trip that was supposed to be to Norway but ended up being to Berlin, where I got horribly sunburned, a blister on my pinky toe the size of my pinky toe, completely sick of peanut butter, and had a generally fantastic time. I’m talking specifically about the last year of my life, which feels right now to span from April to April.

I have only recently in my life learned about the realties of the friend divorce. Until then, I guess I just got really lucky. Maybe I chanced into having really excellent friends, or maybe since we were just barely growing up into adulthood we hadn’t yet developed the capacity to hurt each other so deeply, or to be involved in such serious situations. Perhaps, also, I wasn’t old enough to recognize the importance of selecting your friends. I think it’s probably true for most people that, for a while, friendships are seen as so important that you just take them everywhere you get them.

When I say “friend divorce,” I don’t mean the kind of natural drifting and settling that happens between people as they grown and change and become different people than they were. I think that our friends ebb and flow in our lives. Some of them stay around forever, some of them don’t, but they all come into our lives when we need each other most and have the most to offer each other in happiness, support, and general having of fun. But, sometimes, for certain reasons, we have to actually make conscious choices to end friendships that aren’t just waning naturally. I don’t think I really understood that to be an option until I met with a counselor a year ago to deal with a kind of traumatic event happening in my life that centered around one of my closest friendships and that whole support structure. It wasn’t until I was in that room with that counselor that I allowed myself to say what I was afraid of: that choosing to end this friendship would be selfish, and that friends aren’t supposed to act out of a place of selfishness. Friends aren’t, I though, supposed to abandon each other just because things get hard. What i had to learn then, and am having to force myself to put into practice again now, is that there is a difference between supporting your friends through a painful time and being in a friendship that causes you pain. I also learned that, in those extreme cases, it is OK to act selfishly and in the interests of self-preservation. The friendship that I’m referring to had been causing me distress for a long time by this point, but we had been so close for so many years that I couldn’t imagine choosing not to be involved with her life anymore.

I had to take responsibility for the friendships I chose to maintain, and I had to value my happiness and emotional well-being over a friendship that had, at times, meant the world to me. I haven’t spoken to her for a year, now, and that seems almost impossible. Every few days, something happens. I watch a TV show that she told me about, because she thought the main character reminded her of me. I say a phrase that I learned from her. I see someone walking around campus who, for a second, looks exactly like her. I realize how integral much of our friendship was to the trajectory that I am now on. It is so hard to learn to at the same time find peace with the distance between us and appreciate the magnitude of the impact that that friendship had on my life. I’ve thought about reaching out to her, multiple times, but I know that it wouldn’t be fair. I also know that in reality, we’re both probably better off this way.

I think I also thought that was my one, big, difficult, friendship rupture. I thought that that would be the time I always looked back on, that one really difficult friendship, that one really heartbreaking time. I have since learned that friends will continue to ebb, to flow, and to need to be consciously left behind throughout our lives. This may sound cynical and pessimistic, and I first need to say that I have so many wonderful friends who I love dearly. I am aware every day of how lucky I am to have known so many amazing people who seem to think I’m pretty cool, too. I do believe in friendship. I believe in its importance and in its ability to sustain itself across space and time, but I also know that not all friendships are meant to do this.

My mom taught me when I was younger that it is always important to “know your dealbreakers.” When she first told me about this, it was specifically in reference to dating. She taught me how important it is to decide, while you’re single and not being swayed by infatuated feelings, what the things are that are dealbreakers to you. Not everyone has the same dealbreakers. Some people can live with cheating, some people can’t. That is just one example. I have adapted this to also apply to friends. I really only have one dealbreaker when it comes to my friends, and that is, that if you really care about someone and respect them, you will act like you do. Similar to my dealbreakers for relationships, I would rather lose a friend and have to spend a couple friday nights alone with a book or some netflix than maintain friends who do not treat me with love and respect. That doesn’t mean we can’t have disagreements or fight, everyone does, but there are ways that you can do that and still maintain your loving friendship, and ways that break the bonds of trust.

And so, I find myself again having to make one of those hard, grown-up decisions about my life. This April, it is someone else, but I’m choosing again to put my well-being first. What makes it so hard is that both of these women are people I’ve known to be loving, compassionate, smart, funny, fun, and fiercely feminist. It wouldn’t be so hard to make this decision if the situation wasn’t full of the nuances that color everything in life different shades of gray. It isn’t black and white, and it never is. The dissolution of friendships never come because of just one person’s actions. I, too, am a part of the trajectory that led us here. Aware of all of that, I eventually just have to go with, to quote Audre Lorde, what feels right to me. Because of this newer friendship’s more recent turns, I have felt deeply hurt, confused, betrayed, misrepresented, and completely devastated. I have to be able to accept that as a part of the same reality as all the fun we’ve had together, and all of the support she’s given me in the past. And then I have to take that knowledge, and do what is best for me, even if it hurts.

Losing my friends is one of the saddest things I’ve experienced in my life so far. That may sound melodramatic, but it’s just the truth. It feels like I just broke up with someone, but far, far worse.

The good thing about this always happening in April is that I’m always about to go home and see the people who can help me get through this. This summer is going to be epically full of some of the coolest and best people I know (minus the friends I’m leaving behind in Jersey, who are equally coolest and best in my book).

Now, I’m going to finish up the first phase of packing up this room in Jersey, watch a little classic Doctor, and go to sleep.

In solidarity and sisterhood,

G

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One Response to “So this post… is personal.”

  1. Kendra May 3, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Its so, so hard to make this decision, and I know that right now it feels like the wrong one. But I know that you don’t do this kind of thing lightly, so it needs to happen.

    Now come home so we can sit on my couch, eat ice cream, and watch a silly movie.

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