As they mature, infants and toddlers begin to understand two things: just because something cannot be seen or experienced does not mean it has ceased to exist, and key people in their lives will eventually return.
I, on the other hand, have not come to this understanding, especially regarding friendships. For me, friendships are like games in the Colosseum. If I cannot feel a tangible connection, I must fight to reestablish it.
And ultimately, I am disposable. A throw-away when the next big sensation comes.
Few people in this life have told me they will always be there, and even fewer actually have.
Because I’ve often been left for a better option, I’ve begun performing a series of gymnastics, mentally and emotionally distancing myself from friends, bracing for the inevitable letdown. Somehow, I always allow myself to be put into these situations, recklessly diving into friendships.
The promise of a “forever friend” is too seductive, and so I go for it. I dare to believe that they won’t leave me. Soon, I discover my foolishness and begin to question whether those months of bliss were worth it.
Like radar detecting changes in the atmosphere, I pick up on small changes in friendships. Messages that relay to me that I am in trouble, yet again.
Conversations change, scheduled hangouts change, mutual interests change.
So, I try to reestablish or reassess my standing in the friendship. What can I do to show my importance, my value? Who can I become to liven up the friendship? What can I do when my friendship begins to disappear?
Ultimately, I can do nothing. When something I love becomes less tangible, I weep, for I know what is coming.
To minimize the pain to come, I pull away. I put myself in the background so that when I am put there relationally, I feel nothing. It is difficult to be present with people you know will — sooner or later — grow uninterested in you.
It is difficult to develop friendships knowing your value is temporary.
But like a fool who returns to his folly, I still want it. I want friendship, community. A best friend.
Is it too much to ask to be someone’s numero uno, a right-hand man? Is it cliché to ask for a David and Jonathan relationship? How do you feel about the temporality/longevity of friendship?
* Photo courtesy infomastern, Creative Commons.
Relationships can be quite relative. To be someone’s “numero uno” may happen, but it may not. For me, I am complacent to simply be someone’s friend. I tend to find it works out better for everyone as it mitigates potential emotional dependency. I spread myself out so I can enjoy the company of a variety of people, not just a single person. I don’t think it is cliché to ask for a David & Jonathan relationship as I’m sure it is possible. I just think that is a “tall order.” Again possible, but a tall order. What I mean by this is a lot of factors have to synchronize to make it happen. Some of which is being a part of a team or army that have to face a common or series of adversaries over time. This kind of male bonding takes time and effort. I only experienced a hint of it when I was playing junior high football. I bonded with my teammates as we suffered exercises, practices and games together, good and bad. Sadly it was all temporary and longed for long-term brotherhood. I came relationships change and I have to vigilant is looking for new relationships with people. Something might take root or might not. Gotta keep looking.
Change is not something that I handle well,especially in an emotional environment such as friendships
Excellent article, Bradley, and an astute point on the way in which we approach friendships: guarded, bracing for the impact of the inevitable fall. Is it possible that we ultimately doom these relationships by not allowing ourselves to be more open and accessible in relation to each other? We think we are too much for the other. We diminish ourselves, dole out what we are in small, bite-sized, digestible pieces. We conceal our flaws; we mask our vulnerabilities. We build a wall to protect ourselves, but end up trapped behind it. Your statement regarding importance/value resonates in particular: do we cheapen relationships by viewing them as transactions?
Good questions! I think it is the act of being vulnerable,that opens me up to pain. A heart can only do so much before it collapses.
“What can I do to show my importance, my value? Who can I become to liven up the friendship? What can I do when my friendship begins to disappear?”
It was refreshing and heartbreaking to see that I am not alone in the wrestle of these questions. I walk through the constant back and forth of trying to be “worthy” of the friendships in my life. I’ll admit, I have great friends. But, the ebb and flow of relationship is a daunting pain and I am continuously bracing myself for impact either consciously or subconsciously. The changing seasons of life can take what was once a tight nit union and stretch it to a mere exchange of pleasantries. That lingering question of “why am I so easy to leave?” dangles in the back of my mind through each disappointment.
But, I’ve had to resolved myself to the notion that even though it doesn’t make sense to me, that sometimes winter comes and the leaves die and fall to the ground to make room for new life. And, sometimes, that happens in our relationships. The hardest part is that new life doesn’t always spring up when or how we’d like it. But, I hold out hope that where certain things have passed, other, richer things are coming.
Thanks for this raw and honest post. It’s encouraging to know that even in the feelings of isolation and abandonment, I am actually not alone. Grace to you as you continue sharing your journey.
This is all of my friendships. I’m not sure if it’s my expectations, or something about me. What makes me willing to go the distance, and my friends eventually cop out? My current theory is that they get tired of me, that, like too much of a average thing, they eventually get tired of me.
Can I make a small confession…? Sometimes I need a place to communicate in writing, just so I can get something off my chest. It’s like I’m hoping there’s someone else out here who’ll eventually read what I say, and somehow “get” me… somehow validate what my heart is needing to express.
Another small confession… I didn’t even decide to share this message after reading this YOB posting. I’m writing it on my phone well beforehand, hoping to find an appropriate place to post it as a “comment” later on, once it’s written. This method of posting a comment, however, is a “first” for me, and I probably needed to vent my bottled-up feelings.
So, yesterday was Sunday. And my Pastor delivers one of those poignant, on-point messages that I can’t help but to spiritually discern the obvious connection between it, and “my own” familiar situation. I will come back to that connection in a moment.
You may have read before about my close friendship that ended last year, within a previous posting of mine, in the comments section under “He’s Not My Friend Anymore.”
The inward pain and grief I’ve felt in losing Oscar’s brotherhood and friendship was more difficult for me than anything else I can remember having gone through, even after more than a year had passed since he “kicked me to the curb.”
Exacerbating my grief all during that time has been the fact that me and Oscar both attend the same church together. Both he and I were in attendance yesterday, as well. And here’s where I come back to the Sunday message, yesterday, which was about “Restoration” and “Reconciliation.”
That message seemed to me to be specifically tailored toward broken friendships, exactly like mine and Oscar’s is.
It is difficult to get my hopes up all over again after hearing a message like that, especially after all of this time has passed with Oscar also having been present to hear several other messages throughout this past year, which were strikingly similar to the one we both heard delivered in church, yesterday. And yet he continues to choose a path of ignoring and avoiding me.
After the service ended yesterday, I was standing in the back of the main auditorium, waiting on my wife while she spoke with some lady-friends of hers. As I waited, Oscar passed by me twice, and would not so much as look me in eyes as he passed by.
My God, how that kind of intentional avoidance and rejection hurts! And getting that kind of cold-shoulder-treatment from a brother I once loved and cared so deeply toward is just incomprehensible to me between two Christian brothers, if it were not for the fact of it occuring again and again, each and every Sunday.
Oh, believe me, I’ve tried very sincerely to mend things with Oscar in a biblically “Christian” way. But he refuses to give me the time of day, even to the point that I am not even entirely sure what my offense toward him was?
I still allow my hopes to be stirred when I hear a sermon like yesterday’s. Seems I can’t help it. But the pain of doing so is difficult, and I find that it also makes me easily aggitated and angry inside, in the days following.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
– Proverbs 13:12
So, good brothers, has anyone else ever been this deeply affected by a broken friendship? How does one self-evaluate whether a “friendship” has been an unhealthy relationship of emotional dependency, rather than a genuine friendship and brotherhood? And how does genuine love go wrong and become an emotional dependency? How have you guys processed a rejection from a friend you once felt so deeply toward? Or is the grief I’m feeling actually justified?
Anyway, thanks for the read… and thanks for hearing my heart.
As an afterthought in selecting your posting for this, Bradley, I just wanted to add how incredibly suited to my present pain and grief, your posting is. I don’t see how mine is only the 9th comment to be posted back to it? But your own thoughts here seem to quantify the genuine pain of what I’ve attempted to express…
“Few people in this life have told me they will always be there, and even fewer actually have.”
I guess that one is a lesson I’m still very slow and reluctant to learn.
I’ve always wanted a “David and Jonathan friendship” and to have that one best friend who would never leave me. I feel confused and sometimes hurt when I have a temporary friendship because I love having friends, and when I start to loose a friend it gets me down (unless there is a good reason why he/she can’t be my friend). I love the longevity of a friendship because you get to be close with someone and they won’t leave you as easily. But such friendships for me are rare, I guess I’m not that good at having long friendships (I don’t know why)?
However, I would say that having that one best friend, “right hand man” that “numero uno” is not too much to ask because everyone can have one, we just have to look for him/her.