A second chance
Last week, I wrote about the dissolution of a close friendship, something Iím sure many of you have experienced. In that instance, I was the person to pull the plug. But Iíve had plenty of failed friendships with a different trajectory: me hanging on tightly as the other person pulled away, all the while feeling like I was proving something by not giving up.
As Iíve learned over the years, thereís real strength to giving up. Some things arenít meant to last. Sometimes, we act in ways to ensure the end of a relationship, then play victim when the inevitable happens. Iím no stranger to that dance. In fact, I became an expert my first few years of college.
Those were the dark years. Weíve all got some moment in our lives thatís hard to look back on. These years were so hard to look back on that I blocked most of it from my brain upon graduation. Only recently did I revisit those years, and itís become pretty apparent why it took so long.
I didnít want to admit I did anything wrong. I didnít want to admit I did a lot of things wrong. My friendship with my college roommate is a testament to all the ways I messed up, starting from the very beginning.
My first mistake? Well, I didnít choose the worldís best boyfriend. My then-boyfriend loved to gaslight and criticize. He worked hard to alienate me from my group of friends, and I was blind enough to let him do it. One time, he told a mutual friend that they were not allowed to speak with me ever again. He said he was protecting me when I found out.
My freshman year of college, I went through two or three close friends. Once a friendship ended, I found someone else to fill that void. It didnít matter who they were. They fit a mold, and thatís all I needed at the time.
This particular friend seemed different from the others, and thatís because they were. They hung on for more than a year before realizing how all-consuming and dramatic my life was. We went on trips together and had certain spots in our college town that were just ours. I knew their favorite candy, color and movie ó you know, best friend stuff.
Then they developed close friendships with other people. I felt so betrayed, as if we are only given one friendship at a time. I thought they were ditching me, so I overreacted to everything they did until we werenít friends anymore. I wish I could say I knew it was my fault, but I was really into blaming other people at the time.
It took a lot of introspection to understand that I sunk that ship, singlehandedly and efficiently. Nobody wants to take such an honest look in the mirror. Itís overwhelming to see your own ugliness. But knowledge is power, and when you know where youíve come up short, you can start working to improve.
While Iím not even close to the same person I was then, I know thereís still room to grow. Itís not a scary thing to grow from hard truths. I am most scared of never facing the truth and living in ignorance, constantly upsetting people and wondering why nobody sticks around for very long.
This past weekend, nine years since our falling out, I reconnected with that friend. We caught up over burgers and bacon-wrapped asparagus, sharing what weíve been up to over the past decade. We didnít become instant best friends, but I didnít expect to. Before leaving, I thanked them for being so open to reconnecting.
ďEverybody deserves that,Ē they said. ďEverybody deserves a second chance.Ē