RECENTLY I came across some news of an old friend which stung me. Stung me because she hadn’t told me, because she never told me things; it was always me trying to keep up the friendship until, exhausted, I gave up, feeling genuinely not wanted.
I allowed myself to get hung up on this, recycling old hurts until I pulled myself up and realised how unhealthy it all was. In fact, several times I have come to a place of forgiving – but on occasions like these, I am very tempted to ‘go fishing’. Due to these previous reconciliation within myself, there was very little anger or bitterness in my thinking. But there was still hurt. It left me muffled by old pain.
It does hurt. We let friends grow close to us, we revel in their company and their comfort, we treasure their confidences, the moments where we grew closer. But when life makes it tougher to keep up the friendship and we feel like we’re doing all the work, the friendship suffers. It hurts even more when the other person doesn’t seem particularly bothered that you are growing apart.
The nature of friendship, of any close relationship, is that we are allowing the possibility of pain. Those we love the most will always have the power to hurt us the most. We can’t shake off their words and actions, can’t shrug them away as something irrelevant or unimportant. These are the people that should know better. Conversely, when we have an intimate relationship with someone it is inevitable that you will see them in a variety of guises – some of them less pleasant than others. We do not refrain out of politeness.
Whether composed of simple neglect or outright treachery, the wounds made by friends go deep. And if the effort is not made to heal them, to confess them, to talk them over and come to an understanding, they can lie there like old scars – itching if we scratch them too much.
When I had thought over what I was doing – this unhealthy overturning of the past and comparisons with the present, I forced myself to change gear. Because when we focus on the pain caused by some relationships, we often forget to recognise those in our lives who do bother, who do make the effort, who are repentant when they hurt us and without whom we would be less than what we are.
I recognised then how blessed I am – how many there in my life who take such time over me, who care for me so deeply and considerately, often undeservedly. There will always be old aches and pangs of regret. But I cannot let these blanket my vision. I want always to see the kindness, the lovingness, the genuine care I receive so frequently from good – in every sense of the word, good – friends.
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