To All the Friends I’ve Loved Before…

by Anne Mason

Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

…I still love you.

Even if we no longer relate to each other. Even if you’ve “unfriended” me (or threatened to). Even if we no longer chat or text or see each other. Even if we’ve completely lost touch.

We don’t get each other

We no longer understand each other enough to maintain a friendship. Some of you have put conditions on the friendship, in what might be considered a valiant attempt to maintain it. Some of you requested that we introduce new rules to the relationship. Some explicitly requested some topics be deemed verboten. Others have been more subtle and implicit in said request.

And there are some of you who haven’t made any conscious request like that, at least that I am aware of. But we no longer seem able to relate to each other. I’m not interested in the things you choose to talk about, and you don’t seem interested in the things I choose to talk about. We don’t seem to share the same concerns or priorities or motivations that govern our life choices.

Why fake it?

I suspect neither of us is really very different than we’ve always been, but that we were relating on a different frequency when we first became close. We were in different stages of our lives, and our similarities were more prominent than our differences at the time. As we’ve each moved through subsequent stages of life, our responses to those stages have revealed more of our differences. And who knows? Perhaps future stages will reveal more of the similarities again.

But for now, we don’t seem to be existing in the same reality as each other. So why force it? Why fake it? I know many folks whose familial relationships are constrained by off-limits topics. And perhaps because they’re accustomed to this parameter within their families, they’re more able to apply the same constraints to their friendships.

I’m not.

What are we supposed to talk about?

It is through relationships that we learn, that we grow, that we gain insight, understanding, perspective. I can somewhat understand the etiquette that advises “never talk politics or religion in polite company” in the context of, say, business associates or drinking buddies. It’s not that material to the basis of the relationship. But with good friends? Family? If we can’t speak about meaningful, core value issues with our close friends, then with whom?

By the same token, if one friend’s perspective is too far out there for the other to even entertain or consider as a possibility, then how are they to relate? My own perspective on a number of issues has been labeled “conspiracy theory” by mainstream media. If a friend of mine dismisses my perspective or belief as a “conspiracy theory,” how are they to relate to me, or I to them? Do they compartmentalize that part of me to reject, then accept the rest? How do I resolve that they compartmentalize and dismiss one or many aspects of me?

Such arrangements and navigations seem contrived at best, shallow and dishonest at worst.

Love never dies

Let’s cherish the friendship we had, because we both derived so much from it. Let’s honor the friendship by letting it go as it was, and not bastardize it by contriving rules and regulations to make it fit. And let’s go forward with the new friends we’ve made, friends we can each talk to about the things that are important to us, friends who can understand us, friends we can relate to.

As Dolly wrote, “I will always love you.” Even if we’re not friends anymore.

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