It’s Friday night here and if you’re anything like me you like to just tune out and do nothing to cap off a busy week. Here’s the thing though, this lovely little brain of mine takes Friday evenings (and a glass of wine) as a sign that it’s time to reminisce. Much like anyone else, my past is filled with equal parts joy, embarrassment, questionable choices and smart decisions. Of course, every so often there’s one or two memories that stop you dead in your tracks and rekindle just the slightest twinge of hurt all over again.
I can count on one hand (just) the number of people that I have had a less than amicable parting with. Three out of those five I have reconciled with to varying degrees, one of those isn’t for lack of trying and the last I recently learned is engaged and appears to be living a happy life, so best let sleeping dogs lie as it were. Here’s the thing about difficult partings though, they stick with you in the worst possible way. On this chilly Friday evening, I have come to the rather illuminating epiphany that I found these partings so painful not because I lost touch with important people in my life, but because the situations surrounding those moments were let’s say, less than desirable.
The first two people were two of my dearest friends at University. We were practically inseparable when we were studying together; spending every waking second doing everything from not studying to jumping off small cliff faces into the river below. It was around this time that it hit me, the career path I’d chosen wasn’t actually what I wanted for my life. With twelve months left on my degree, I had enough time to transfer out of what I was studying, take a few extra units and still graduate at the same time. It was around this time that I drifted from my two friends. Lives took us in separate directions, whilst they were out doing their final practical experiences I was battling with arguments about changing my studies amidst getting engaged and wondering what I could actually do with my new credentials.
For a really long time I wouldn’t let myself think back on those uni days because so much of it had those two in them. It took years for me to realise that whilst the three of us may have parted ways (read: I stopped talking to them pretty much entirely) it didn’t actually change the fact that we were friends. I spent so many of my days with them, they made me laugh, they made the midnight essay writing sessions bearable. They were two of my very closest and dearest companions. After a while I understood that it wasn’t them that needed to ‘move on’ and it wasn’t me that needed to ‘let go’, it was everyone just accepting that things change, we make mistakes and we move forward. I contacted the two of them some time ago, we buried the hatchet and that was the end of it. I don’t entirely know where they are these days but I do see the occasional Instagram post from one of them, we share a like, a comment and we go about our lives. I can’t say how my contacting them impacted on their lives, but I know for a fact that it made me realise that just because something didn’t end well, doesn’t mean it didn’t start well.
A few years later I was in a similar situation again. Not university related this time but I had two very close girlfriends. Much the same as with the other two, we did a lot together. We exercised together, we had girls days, girls nights, girls weekends. Not long after we met I ended up going through what I can only explain as one of the most challenging experiences of my married life. At the time I needed to put my focus on my husband and I and it meant that there was a number of other things that had to take a backseat. My work life changed, my relationships with family and friends changed. Everything changed. Then one day I found myself arguing more and more with these two friends and having less and less in common with them. Before I knew it I was blocking out entire chunks of my life from my memory purely because they were prominent aspects of those times.
Again, the beauty of hindsight came tearing into my field of vision and made me understand that I wasn’t blocking out those memories because those girls were in them, but because those girls reminded me of something I wanted so desperately to put behind me. As with the other two friends, I reached out and sent a message, an apology and a simple ‘how are you?’. This time only one of them chose to reconnect; the other, sadly, hasn’t even acknowledged that I exist anymore. That’s the other side of the story, just because one person decides that the good moments we shared far outweigh the painful ones, doesn’t mean the other person will be at the same point.
Life is a constantly moving target. Some days we wake up and feel like we can do anything and everything. We live in the now and we only focus on the good things. Other days we want to lay in bed and dwell on all the terrible, horrible things that lurk behind closed doors in our mind. There’s got to be a balance though. For every good memory, there is a negative one and vice versa. These four people have taught me that we can blend the good with the bad and come out the other end stronger, wiser and hopefully a little more humble. I’ve learned my lessons and I will be forever grateful to each and every single one of those people; regardless of whether or not they have spoken to me, acknowledged my existence, or ignored me completely, the reality is they have changed me. Their lives impacted mine in a way that I can’t put into words. They were prevalent parts of my history, my timeline, and like with any good historical account; accuracy is absolutely paramount.
I promised I would be honest in this blog so here’s the honesty. Those four people were special to me and they will forever hold a place in my heart regardless of what the outcomes were. It’s not to say they are any more or any less important to me than the people currently in my life, but they will always be there. That’s the thing, the human condition sometimes means we end up hurting each other, whether that be intentionally or unintentionally, what matters isn’t the pain that was caused, but the lessons that were learned. We all make mistakes, we all act out of turn, driven (like I was) by strong emotions or situations. At the end of the day though, no one is immune, no one is perfect and most importantly, no one is to blame. The second we start blaming people for our downfalls that’s when we start down a dark path that can be very, very hard to come back from.
And so I’ll leave you with this little vibe for your Friday night:
I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go. – Neil Gaiman
Now… go make good choices.