Photo: cc by Jane Rahman
She illuminates for us the contours of our own heart, our own ability to love
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
Just about every woman I know has a similar story: a friend vanished from their lives with no warning or explanation. She simply stopped returning calls, emails, texts, and when finally tracked down in a supermarket frozen food aisle, she just said, “Oh, nothing’s wrong. I’m just really busy.”
I even saw an advice column once that recommended, when wanting to break off a friendship, to simply get out of touch in a hurry and plead life overwhelm.
I’ve had a few such vanishing acts in my heart over the last decade, reminding me how much the loss of any old or new friendship hurts, and how the lack of knowing why it ended is just as stinging.
The details are remarkably generic
The friendship stopped, and there was nothing I could do to jump start it. Reaching out to ask why only brought esoteric responses indicating that she would once day be back in touch but not now for reasons that couldn’t be shared.
While I know many of you have had similar stories unfold in your heart, breaking it just a little or a lot, I want to focus here on what the friend who got away leaves us with, besides and actually through the pain, confusion and excessive self-questioning.
Control freaks, prepare to let go
There’s nothing like this kind of situation to show us how little control we have over the world. The friend – let’s call her Houdina – proves to us that not everyone, even and maybe especially not the people we love most – plays by our rules. She acted in a way we never would have (or else we might be able to understand how she slipped the surly bounds of our lives, right?), and there’s nothing we can do about it.
She also illuminates for us the contours of our own heart, our own ability to love. In losing Houdina, we can come to understand how we love our friends, and how we might even love them a little or a lot both conditionally and unconditionally.
Coming home to ourselves
In the inevitable beating ourselves against the rock of being dumped, we’ll surely ask ourselves what we did wrong, questioning whether our motives were as pure as we thought or not, and what we might have done differently. This is not to say another kind of questioning and inner-ranting isn’t also afoot, the one involving name-calling and diagnosing her with some psychological malady after thoroughly inventorying all her faults.
But even in looking at her real or supposed craziness and meanness, we can come home to ourselves, asking why we were drawn to such a person, and hopefully, what we needed to learn in this relationship.
A slow-burning heart and smoked karma
That’s where the biggest gift from extensive dwelling in not-knowing takes wing: what we’re learning from the loss. It may be, “I don’t need to throw my energy into a friendship with someone who’s so bad for me,” “I want to ensure that future friendships are more balanced,” or even, “It just hurts to lose Houdina, but I’ll hand over that loss to time.”
Here’s where time is our constant friend, and one we can’t shake off: After four years of wondering about and feeling just a twinge of pain over the loss of one friend, I find I truly don’t care anymore about her or the friendship… and I mean that in a good way.
Okay, so it took four years, but maybe I have a slow-burning heart or a whole lot of smoked karma to work through. Yet I did arrive at this peace about her, sending the stranger she is to me now best wishes and moving on.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.