one word: reconnect
Naturally, thinking of the word “reconnect” will bring memories of past relationships that were dear but somehow faded along the way. I spent much of the past few years pondering a “reconnection” with a friend who was my closest companion for ten years but from whom I grew apart in recent years. We were college roommates, closest friends, carrying each other through challenging years (more difficult for me than her) and staying very close for several years after college despite hundreds of miles separating us. I had a very clear sense when the friendship began to fade: birthdays were no longer important, or if they were remembered, the once-personal and thoughtful handmade treasures became haphazard afterthoughts thrown together months after as “belated gifts” just because we were going to see each other in person. The guilt was always palpable, turning a fine gesture into an empty experience. Sadly, I felt most of this myself, becoming the afterthought in the friendship, feeling such a burden because I disrupted her life by wanting to see her. I wrestled with this for many years, trying to pinpoint exact reasons and gain perspective over the success and then ultimate dissolution of our friendship, and yet still I longed to reconnect. She was, after all, the very best friend I’d ever had in my lifetime, and there had been no other true and intimate friends after her. A couple of years ago I finally became resigned to the fact that I may never see her again and most certainly that our friendship had run its course. And yet, as recent as this January, I found myself googling her name and searching websites of old employers in the hope that I might find an email address for one more attempt at reconnecting. Nothing came of it. Then I read this:
“Every time someone walks away from an opportunity to be your friend, it is good information. As we become more adept at learning when to release shallow, unhealthy or imbalanced connections with love and gratitude in our hearts, we lighten our load and step more confidently into the best future we can create for ourselves. In the big picture, this is all positive, forward movement.” — Christine Mason Miller
I would never characterize my friendship as shallow or unhealthy, but it was certainly imbalanced. But I was the catalyst in creating the disproportion. I was the one suffering from dark depression, and I was the one afraid of being replaced by a more interesting friend. I was the clingy, emotional wreck of a human being during those college years. And it was my friend who remained a stabilizing force for me. God only knows where I’d be today had I not had her as a lifeline to ground me and keep me from circling the drain. It must have been exhausing for her. What is interesting to note, however, is that once I came out of that pit and reclaimed my self-worth and began the journey to healing, our friendship began to take its dive. It was slow at first but steady, and I recognized very quickly that she was no longer on board with the person I was becoming. It confused me for years, although my renewed relationship with God and her lifelong non-spirituality was definitely a chasm between us that I didn’t yet know how to cross. I’m sure that my 180-degree turnaround confused her, as well. And since we didn’t know how to communicate around this new element, we eventually just grew apart.
What I like about Miller’s quote is the last line: “this is all positive, forward movement.” Reclaiming my life and my faith has certainly been just that. Not having to support the basket case that I was must certainly have been positive for my friend. Still, I often wonder just what it was that made her pull so far away. Was it my faith? Was it our different life paths? Was it the distance in miles? Or was it simply that our time together was done and we had nothing left to share? I may never know, and I’ve come to be okay with that. From that long chapter in my life I’ve learned to appreciate the friends I have now. I understand that we may not always have the same relationship as we do today, and I recognize how important it is to stay connected all the time since there may not be a chance to reconnect in the future. I’ve learned to be grateful for the people who love me as I am, with the faith I have and mistakes I make, and I no longer take any of them for granted. If God sees fit to allow a reconnect with my college friend, I’ll praise Him for that day. But even if that day never arrives, I continue to feel connected to her through two simple acts: praying for her continually, and remembering how important she was to me in my darkest hours. That’s a connection that never fades.
This post was derived from the list of inspiration words gathered on Ali Edwards’s blog and from the concept of writing about one word.