Relationships

When the House Burns Down

The springtime has me feeling some type of way.

Two of my important friendships ended in December, which prompted me to change my relationship to social media. We’d been friends for over a decade at that point and I keenly feel the loss. If you imagine friendship as a lifelong project, a home that you build together, then these people locked the front door and burnt the house down.

I’ve been trying to sort through my role in the end of those things, while still trying to stand up for myself, to myself.

What do we do when people stop loving us? What do we do when we still love ourselves? How can we reconcile those two perspectives, and should we?

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

The two people went about the process in very different ways.

One was explicit, yet still passive aggressive, and engaged in some pretty impressive/sickening gas lighting. The other simply drifted off and stopped responding to messages. These final moments, as they were, occurred within a week of each other. Both people live in the same city, and as a shared friend (unfairly caught in the middle) told me, they had likely coordinated their plans.

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

Why do I want to go back to the moment just before they decided to burn down the house, snatch back the matches and do it myself? Does this feeling come from the idea that it’s easier to leave than to be left? It is hard to be alone in smoothing over the spaces in my heart where they used to live. In my bitter moments, I wish that I had done this to them, and that it would be their burden, not mine.

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

I referenced it in my over-watering post, but I tried so hard to be open and communicative after I became aware of a disconnect in June, 2016. I responded by sharing more about my life, the little things, the big things, the stuff I loved. Even though we were so far away, surely knowing more about my life would help? December came, and it hadn’t helped.

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

If the two people had done to one of our mutual friends what they did to me, I would be outraged. I believe in treating friends better than these two people treated me. Everyone gets to decide their own boundaries and make their own choices, but to me, friendships aren’t disposable even if they aren’t going to last forever.

I wish our mutual friends has stood up for me. I wish someone in the middle would have said, “this is wrong and we should not treat each other this way.”

None of our shared friends are any less involved in my life after the ends of those friendships. If anything, we are closer than before. Is this their way of expressing their thoughts on the matter?

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

I’ve done my best to restrict any information about my life that they may be able to access. I’ve blocked the explicit person on all forms of social media and I’ve put up privacy protections against the passive person that effectively erase any record of me after 2015.

Part of this is to protect myself emotionally; I don’t want to accidentally see what they’re up to. I don’t want a window into a world from which I’ve been soundly ejected. I don’t want to rely on my willpower to never check up on them, so I’m taking that ability away from myself.

A larger motivation for this is simply to protect myself and my activities from them. These two people live in the same city; it’s self-centered, but I imagine them scrolling through my Instagram feed and judging the way I live in Paris. It’d be great if that never happened, but I’ve seen them do it to other people and I’m not interested in being next on the list.

What bothers me about the end of these friendships? Why can’t I set them down?

I’m trying to figure out how to move on. I’m trying to work through some of the cruelty and confusion. I’m trying to be at peace with the idea of never being able to explain to them how their words and actions felt.

I’m trying to love the parts of my life that are blooming, and to keep nurturing the parts that are still growing. It’s just not something I ever envisioned doing without them, and getting used to that is going to take time.

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2 thoughts on “When the House Burns Down”

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