Episode 45: When a Friendship Ends
Episode 45: When a friendship Ends
Richard G Scott once said, “True friendship is like the asphalt of life. It fills in the potholes and makes the journey smooth.”
Friends are amazing. I heard some say once that they aren’t the icing on the cake, but rather, they ARE the cake. We long for connection, belonging, and someone to love and to be loved. So when that friendship ends it can leave us a bit of a mess.
There are countless songs, movies, books, and stories that talk about romantic relationships and breakups. These give us a heads up that sometimes romantic relationships end and while it’s not fun, you’re going to be okay. Good thing, you’ve got your bestie’s shoulder to cry on. But there’s another kind of break up that we’re not prepared for and can be devastating, confusing, and painful.
Friendships have the allure that they can and should last forever. The term BFF even declares the expected longevity of that relationship which is why we find ourselves mentally unprepared when a friendship ends.
So I want to talk about friendships today. More specifically about finding closure, and how to show up confident amidst endings and looking forward with certainty.
It’s a difficult and challenging time when a friendship ends. You’re left feeling confused like, “what did I do? What happened? Did I say something? Did I offend her? I just don’t understand” and we try and rack our brains to find any possible solution, any possible example where maybe that could be why they’re acting the way they are.
It can be a time of great insecurity and self-doubt. We question ourselves and wonder what’s wrong with me that she didn’t want to be my friend anymore? What did I do? Then while spinning in this line of thought you unknowingly gave your brain a directive to look for and answer that question. Which your brain is amazing and it will answer that in ways that aren’t helpful and aren’t true.
It can also be a time of shame and self-criticism. In all your spinning and spiraling in your thoughts, you might even think, “this is ridiculous. It’s a friendship, not a marriage!” So you feel even worse that this is bothering you more than you think it “should”. But really inside, it hurts, a lot.
There are some light and help I’m going to offer to you today as friendships are amazing but the belief that friendships can and should last forever isn’t one that’s super helpful. It sounds like it is, BFF’s besties forever right? But I’m going to offer you something new to adopt that will provide peace, light, and security to these relationships.
I want to tell you about one of my personal experiences. I had this amazing friend. She was just so fun and I loved being around her. We moved into a new area and she was one of the first people I met and we just had a conversation that lasted hours and felt like 5 mins. It was one of those times that you look down at your phone and you’re genuinely shocked how much time you’ve been chatting. It was an instant connection and a friendship was born.
We spent so much time together, daily even.
We shared secrets, our hopes and dreams, we talked about deep and important things. She was a shoulder to cry on and one I knew always had my back and I loved her.
I found ways to serve her and her family. Any time we’d go to the farmers market to buy strawberries we’d always pick up an extra for her too.
I was there for her in her dark times and so excited for her in her happy times. So imagine my confusion when things just stopped.
We moved again and up until the day we left things seemed good. But when we left there were no phone calls, no texts, no Marco’s. Just silence.
In most romantic relationships there’s an ending. A definitive ending. There’s a break-up, a conversation, something that says, “I’m done, I’m leaving, I don’t want this anymore” so when it comes to friendships because we think it’s not like we were dating or anything. We’re not sure how to end it so often times what you get is just silence.
And this can seem so much worse than a breakup because this one there’s no closure. It doesn’t make sense, your brain can’t put it in a neat box and mourn for it, it’s just left unanswered. So naturally, it’s going to spin and spin in your mind and more often than not we try and answer it with hurtful things.
We assume the worst, we think they’ve seen our worst and now we’re unlovable, we’ll never have another friend like that again or if we do it’ll end up just like this one because we’re the problem, right? It’s us…they left us. They didn’t want to be around us anymore.
So we need to be aware of what our brain is doing and why it’s doing it. You’re looking for some kind of closure, some answer to why what happened?
This need to know can lead to you showing up in awkward and needy ways. Sometimes you find yourself texting, calling, and chasing them to understand. We feel entitled to it after years of building that friendship, investing our time, emotions, and love into it. But what happens when something is being chased? It runs away, right?
We do need closure but it doesn’t have to come from them or in the way you think it does and that’s what I’m going to give you today. Some things to remember when a friendship ends.
The first thing is just to accept and allow what is. This is also the most difficult part. We don’t want to accept what’s happening because we believe it shouldn’t be happening. So we’re in resistance to what is.
Why isn’t she calling? She “should” be calling! Then we spin in confusion and start making up stories about why she’s not and it just creates drama and a mess.
We want to let go of our manual and what we think they should be doing and just accept what’s currently happening. It might not, it probably won’t feel good and that’s where the allowing comes in.
It’s okay to feel disappointment, hurt, and sadness.
It’s worse when we try and resist these. We think we shouldn’t feel this way so we act out of hope that we can fix it. If I call her, or if she calls me then I won’t have to feel a negative feeling so we act out of resistance and we lose every single time.
Accept and allow.
I’m sad and it’s okay. Sadness is just a vibration in your body. You can do sadness. Allow yourself to feel it.
Then after you can move into the next step which is focusing on the FACTS.
A is for accept and allow and F is for focus on the facts. This sounds easy enough but we’re terrible at this part. We’d much rather dive into a story about what we think is happening. Why we think they’re acting this way and this story hurts.
It’s important to remember that they or their actions don’t create how you feel. You’re not sad that she’s distancing herself from you or not calling. You’re sad because you think she should and she’s not and when she’s not you’re sad and hurt because of what you’re making that mean about you.
That’s all optional.
Focus on the facts and write them down. I’m not kidding. Grab a paper, open your notes in your phone and write out the facts.
I did not see her today
I did not receive a phone call today
Sometimes we’re tempted to judge and compare. I KNOW she’s on her phone and saw my messages because she’s posting on Instagram! And then we dive into a story again that hurts.
Instead, you’ll want to focus on the facts.
She posted on Instagram today
Do you see how bland and almost boring these are? They’re also not emotionally charged. These facts don’t create hurt, sadness, confusion. They just are. It’s just information. This is excellent because it’s a blank canvas. You get to decide what and if you want to make that information mean and before you dive into a negative spin on what that information means I want to offer you the next step, Which is to fill that blank space with something useful and helpful. Something that makes sense to you and helps you move forward. For me, these three thoughts help so much:
1.) People come into your life for reasons
2.) People leave for reasons and they’re usually pretty good ones
3.) Just because things look differently now it doesn’t mean it was all wasted or that it didn’t mean anything to her.
The truth is that people come and go in your life and that’s okay. We as human beings are constantly changing. They are changing and evolving and growing and so are you. Think of things you loved and cherished and treasured as a child. I loved the books Frog and Toad. Do you remember those? They’re really simple but I remember reading them as a little girl, probably first learning to read and I just loved the illustrations. I loved those stories. As I grew and evolved my preferences changed. I no longer needed that. It’s not that I stopped loving it, I just grew out of it.
It’s like this with friendships. We are constantly changing and growing. The things in our lives are changing too, what we spend our time on, where our focus is and it’s okay. Remember, the only reason you’re hurting is because of what you’re making it mean. So instead of choosing a hurtful track choose instead to think:
People come into my life for a reason and they leave for a reason and that reason is usually a pretty good one.
With my friendship I did need her. She came into my life at a time that I needed it.
It was me learning how to be an amazing friend because that was a huge benefit for ME. Instead of thinking about all that time that I invested, how much and deeply I loved her, how much I served her and was there for her a part of me believed that it should account for something. And when she no longer needed our friendship I made it mean negative things, like wasn’t that enough?
But when I realize that people come into our lives for a reason I could be open to seeing that it’s not so much that she needed me or how much I gave or what that accounted to but rather that I NEEDED to serve, to share, to give, and to love this person and she provided me with that opportunity. She came into my life so that I could have that experience. She was the perfect person for me at the perfect time. I can thank her for that. Thank her for giving me an opportunity to love, to give, to care for, and serve.
Thought two: People leave for good reasons.
I want to believe that when people leave or choose a different path they have good reasons for it. I know I do. We leave because of how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking, what we’re going through.
It’s the same when they choose to leave. I don’t need to know exactly why because even if they told me my brain would want to argue and make something of it. It’d want to find the holes in it or make it out to be excuses.
This way is cleaner and involves no thought drama. Just she’s leaving for good reasons and that’s okay.
I want to believe that if she told me and I knew and understood the whole picture I’d be happy to let her go. And those reasons are irrelevant to me. I just choose to trust that they have really good reasons and because I love them, I’m going to honor them and know that this is what they need right now.
Something really helpful that I encourage my clients to do is to write them a letter. You’re not really going to send it, it’s for you so you can create closure instead of letting confusion spin. So just write them a thank you letter.
Thank them for the time you spent together. Give them permission to go. Let them know that you understand that they have good reasons to change and then just let yourself say and feel all the things you’re already thinking but not really addressing. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to mourn a loss.
But remember, it’s not about you. Hurt and offended feelings come because you’re making it about you and it’s not. That won’t be helpful or productive. So focus on them. Their actions are about them, their choices are about them. And because of who you are, you can let them be them. You can love them in their humanness. You can thank them for the memories which do last forever. Spend some time, grab a paper and pen and just write. It works wonders!
And the third thought, Just because things look differently now it doesn’t mean it was all wasted or that it didn’t mean anything to her.
We have a tendency to drop into self-pity and we want to make it mean that it didn’t matter to them. That all that time we shared wasn’t enough for them. This isn’t helpful or truthful.
The real truth is a friendship doesn’t have to end because a friendship isn’t contingent upon the other person. We think it is. We think that they have to do something and reciprocate for it to be a friendship but the real truth is the only thing necessary for it to be a friendship is for you to have a thought.
For you to think, “she’s my friend” – that’s it.
Things and people are always changing, evolving and it’s okay. Things might look different now but it all served a purpose for you, for them. It doesn’t have to be “over”, you really didn’t “lose” a friend, there aren’t really even “endings”.
You have everything you need to make that friendship last forever if you want to. With my personal experience that I shared I still and will always think of her as my friend.
I will always love this person. When I think about her I smile because I remember so many good times, so many deep conversations, so many genuine precious moments and that makes me smile.
If I knew going into it that someday things would look different like they do now, would I have still cultivated that relationship?
100% I would. It was never wasted. Friendship isn’t a transaction. I gave me someone to love, someone to serve, someone to laugh with, someone to be real with.
This is all worth it to me. I want to focus my energy and attention to creating useful feelings during this time. That means, not indulging in self-pity, confusion, and wondering why. Instead what’s helpful to me is certainty, which looks like,
People come into my life for good reasons and they leave for good reasons.
I can be certain that they had good reasons for this change and those reasons have nothing to do with me. What they think is about them and not about me.
Another useful feeling is gratitude. So grateful for the time we had. So grateful that I got to love her, serve her, and become who I am in part because of that opportunity.
Another useful feeling is abundance. Part of our fear is that we’re never going to have another friend like them again. And while yes, each person is unique and brings different things to the table, we don’t have to fear. There are 8.5 billion people on the planet and we get to meet and make friends with so many of them.
There’s a quote that I love that says, “Every person is a new door to a different world”
You’ve been so blessed to be a part of this particular world for a time but there’s such a lot of world to see. Savor those memories, keep gratitude in your heart, and then cultivate excitement that there are more worlds to explore, more memories to make, more people to love, to serve, to laugh with.
Endings aren’t really endings, they’re just changes, just a nudge in another direction.
You’ve got this friends, that’s what I’ve got for you this week! Talk to you next time!