I sometimes wonder why we don’t accord similar level of importance to friendships as we do to romantic relationships. I like the social awareness around the space and respect given to grieving romantic relationships – lost relationships, failed relationships, complicated relationships, long distance relationships or relationships that just drifted apart. I like the lack of awkwardness in asking, ‘What are we’, ‘It feels different’, ‘What changed? We changed. Can we work on some things?’, ‘I need some more love. Can you give it to me?’. While the whole beauty of friendship might lie in the lack of concrete definitions and social norms, I often miss the definitiveness of romantic relationships in my friendships. How close are we? What are we? Are we Friday night drinking friends, are we Sunday morning deep-conversation friends? Are we friends-of-convenience filling our lonely lives with some insincere affection? Are we soulmates of some sort? Are we I’ll-always-have-your-back friends? Are we all of them? Are we some?
I believe in soul families, not soul mates. I hold a lot of people– most of them friends, dear to me. Falling apart from them is painful, often more painful than breaking up with my romantic partners. However, I’ve missed being able to grieve it, being able to talk about it. I miss taking the refuge of music, movies and poetry to grieve about friendships lost – the way I can for romance gone bad. I miss being accorded a shoulder to cry for all the friends that got left behind. I hate my pain being dismissed because drifting apart from friends is such an ‘expected’, ‘natural’ part of life. I wonder why my grief over a break-up of one-year relationship gets more validation versus my multi-year friendship gone sour. I hate my grief not being validated enough.
How to talk about the pain of not being able to hug your friend as often as you’d want to, of missing growing old with them, of not being able to call them up to tell them about your day, of not having the right to call them after a bad day. When friendships end, the reasons are rarely defined – most times they just end mysteriously or sometimes they don’t end at all but just fade away. Sometimes, you just drift away because of distance or evolved priorities. Sometimes, you just grow out and become incompatible – you grow out of the activities, values or commonalities that held you together. Sometimes, you just hurt each other but neither of you want to have the difficult conversation to address the issue, so it let it go till both the problem and the person start hurting less. Sometimes, you just get too busy to make time for all the friends you have made.
It irks me, though, to not be able to get that closure for myself – to go through old pictures, old memory lanes, old cards and wonder, “I miss them. Do they miss me too?” Sometimes, I type out a whole message and then delete it because it seems too corny. I want to reach out to an old friend and say, ‘Hey, can we work on our friendship? Can we pick it from where we left it off?’, but I fear lack of reciprocity and drop the idea. I like how it is socially acceptable to be embarrassing with your ex-romantic partners. I miss being able to send awkwardly corny messages to my drifted friends without it sounding annoyingly cheesy.
As I am writing this, I am wondering why I care about these social constructs at all. I am not sure. Looks like I am not all that non-conformist as I believe I am, and the years of social conditioning has played its part. What is the point of this post? This is probably me validating my pain for all the lost/distanced/forgotten friendships that I am grieving, and extending a virtual hug and shoulder to everyone in similar shoes – "Your emotions are valid, and it is okay to feel deep pain for lost friendships."