I grew up in a country town, population about 25k. Like most places, friendships were usually formed by the people you went to school with. As the town I lived in was small, I went through most of my schooling with the same people. There was an influx of new faces in high school and a place new friendships would form but your social circle, especially mine, always had people you’d been through both kindergarten and primary school with. To put it into perspective, I had about 35 students I did year 12 with. Not just in my class; that was the entire year level.
As school ended, I packed up and moved to the city. Some friends stayed behind but eventually most moved on to new places. I set up camp in Melbourne, the same place as some of my closest friends. Even sharing the same house at different times. Was that not the ultimate of moving out of home, so you could live with your friends? It was the party that never ended. When I think back, I don’t even know how I survived those days. Sometimes living together worked well, other times, not so much. But it was all part and parcel with growing up. Friendships were tested, some strengthened, others dissolved but my favourite part, it gave you the space to make new friends off your own back. Friendships that were not forced on you or formed simply because you ended up at the same high school together, instead it was because you bonded over mutual things as young adults, you saw things in each other you liked.
Most of the people I grew up with all came from the same background. Working class families, no parents were divorced, catholic upbringing. It’s all I was used to. Then I made a new best friend in Melbourne who not only introduced me to a group of friends I would spend most of my time with in those coming years, but her family welcomed me too. I think when that happens you know the friendship is solid. Her family acted as mine and made living away from most of my family much easier. She had a completely different upbringing to me. Her parents were divorced and had been since she was young, she was a devout atheist, was allowed to smoke, her parents were quite liberal. It was something so new to me. She opened my eyes a lot to new things and the big wide world that was out there. I would even say she helped me lose some of my naivety. When I moved from the country to the city, it was so different to what I was used to but I treated it like a big country town. I spoke to anyone, said hello to people when out exercising, the reactions ranging from surprised hello’s in return to looks like I was an axe wielding psycho. She would always say to me, you speak to anyone. Don’t do that. You can’t trust everyone here. Her advice was sound.
We were tied at the hip for nearly seven years. Through boyfriends, jobs, house moves. We were there for each other. She even introduced me to my husband. Over time, I began to feel like we were moving in different directions. At the time I felt like I outgrew her but I think she outgrew me too. The paths we were seeking were somewhat going in different directions. We were different people and instead of it being an opposites attract thing, it just became something that came between us. Finally one day, after thinking about it for a few months, I ended our friendship. I don’t think I intended to end it completely, more so just take some time away to make some other friends. As we spent all of our time together, I didn’t have time to put energy into other friendships and I wanted to give myself that space. Instead of it just being a break, it was an abrupt death of our relationship. I think we were young and being young, you don’t always know how to handle things right. Hell, even as a forty year old I’m sure there are no guarantees for having the ability to handle all delicate situations well. I knew that I did the right thing at the time, choosing to go separate ways, but what I would do differently next time is be more honest about how I really felt, accept that it was going to be uncomfortable and that I would expose myself to a negative reaction but I owed her that much. I also would also do it in person. So much can be misinterpreted over email or phone. I‘ve at least learnt that much since I was 25!
In the seven years since that relationship ended, I’ve come to think of her occasionally. A lot of water has passed under that bridge. I don’t hold any negative emotions or feelings about it. I’m thankful to the universe that I met her. Without her I may never have met my husband and my life could be vastly different to how it is now. I’m thankful for all she taught me, the unconditional friendship and love she gave me, for all her family did for me and even though I know she won’t be reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t end things very well. I’ve often thought about getting in contact to say that personally, I guess I’m still trying to summon the courage to do it. Maybe, one day, I will. Maybe.
I’ve ended a few big friendships in my life for different reasons but I am a firm believer in it being a necessary part of our evolution. I don’t think I would have grown anywhere near as much as a person if I surrounded myself with the same friends from early childhood right through until today. I have two best friends whom I’ve known since kindergarten and prep and another from high school. Two of the three are men. Nothing changes between us. We always pick up exactly where we left off. I know I can call them any time of the day or night and they will be there to help me with anything I need. I’m thankful for those friendships as much as I am thankful for the new ones I have made that I know will last me into old age. People do pass in and out of our lives as we need them and the older I’ve got, the better my radar has become about who I shouldn’t let in to begin with or the toxic ones I need to get rid of. I’ve witnessed friendships between other people that have gone stale over time but neither person decides to move on and I always ask myself, why? Why do you feel you have to remain friends with them? We are adults and we have the freedom to choose whom we surround ourselves with. If you ever find yourself bitching about your “friends”, they probably shouldn’t be in your life and you shouldn’t be in theirs. That or you need to build a better relationship to discuss the issues you have with them to their face. For me, that is the only relationship I am willing to partake in. One that is honest and open. Anything else is just a waste of my time.