So, no one told you life was gonna be this way, amirite?
Take, for instance: Friendship.
And what, exactly, constitutes a “friend”? The dictionary tells me:
a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
Okay. I can list a good number of people in this world whom I have shared a bond of mutual affection at one point in time, but… Are we still friends? I know that I still have affection for them, but we don’t talk much anymore, so I honestly do not know if they still have affection for me. And I fear that that fact answers my question…
This week I’ve become acutely aware of just how few friends I have left. And having a small number of friends in and of itself is not a bad thing, by any stretch. Quality over quantity. What saddens me is the wonderful relationships that have been lost for no other reason than I let them.
In my early-to-mid-twenties I managed to keep many* of my friendships intact, despite a lot of them being long distance. I think back and remember that I always had ongoing letter and email conversations happening with people, where we’d keep each other up-to-date on our lives. On top of that we’d actually see each other on a regular basis and we’d even chat on the phone. (Sounds crazy, I know!)
But as the years went by, the emails and letters became less frequent, longer and longer stretches would go by between visits, and eventually the phone calls just stopped.
The brunt of the blame for that falls on me, without a doubt. The escalating severity of my anxiety and depression over the last five years resulted in me isolating myself almost completely. By the time I’d moved from severely depressed to actively suicidal I was practically a recluse.
I’ve already written a bit about my attempted suicide last year and the aftermath of it, so I won’t get into it again, other than to say I think I’ve reached a new milestone in my healing process. In that post I spoke about achieving contentment, a point that 18 months ago seemed beyond impossible. And now as I sit here I can say with confidence that I’m not only content, I’m also happy.
And in being happy, I find myself with the urge to share news of said happiness with those with whom I share a bond of mutual affection (aka my friends). It’s through this urge that I come to contemplate the complexities of friendship and whether or not I have any friends left… And here we are.
There’s people out there that I love dearly and I want so badly to be a part of their lives, but I fear it’s too late to mend what I’ve broken. And to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified of being rejected if I try…
But I can’t end this without saying how grateful I am for the few friends that I know, with absolute certainty, I have. They’ve held me when I cried, come to get me from the side of the road when I fainted during a panic attack ,and spent hours on the phone with me from halfway around the world while I lay in the hospital. They’ve let me into their lives and their families and gave me reasons to live when I thought there were none.
*I say “many” friendships because I went through an unfortunate and very regrettable streak of pettiness and jealousy about a decade ago that saw the lose of a few close friends. It’s yet another thing I wish I could fix, but it’s too late (and even it weren’t, I wouldn’t know how).