“Surrender is an active decision, an act of strength and courage, with serenity as its reward.” – Richard Schaub
One of the most painful things we can go through is separating from someone we love – not just from a romantic partner but also with a close friend.
Forming a relationship with someone creates an intricate link between us and another person. As time passes, our bond intensifies making the idea of losing the person almost unimaginable and unbearable.
If you’re experiencing pain from losing an important person in your life, know that the struggles we’re facing today are building the courage and strength we need for tomorrow.
LETTING GO OF THE FAMILIAR
There is comfort in knowing what to expect when you’re with someone. This is especially true in long-term relationships. However, we should be able to tell the difference in being content in a stable relationship versus choosing to stay in a relationship out of convenience.
A happy and healthy relationship exists when two individuals can grow WITH and ALONGSIDE each other – meaning, both can feel fulfilled as an individual and as a couple.
A relationship founded on convenience, on the other hand, is kept alive to avoid isolation and face uncertainty. Most of us can feel powerless and fearful about being alone which is why some of us can’t see when we’re stuck in a rut.
When there is no concrete reason to end a relationship such as cheating or abuse, how will we know when it’s time to let go of our partner? Simply saying “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore” seems harsh. Also, what if they did nothing wrong but still don’t know why we’re unhappy?
The reason why most of us stay in such relationships is that:
- We equate the end of the relationship to failure. We sometimes believe that staying together despite feeling unsatisfied and unhappy is a measure of success. Yet, what we have to realize is that there is a golden nugget under the rubble of a broken relationship. When we are brave enough to break away, what we find is an opportunity to look within. We discover the parts of us that we’ve neglected to love and accept. The end of a relationship brings to light the wounds we have yet to heal.
- We take on the responsibility of saving the other person. There’s no one else who can help us but ourselves. While we can be supportive and compassionate for our partners’ struggles, we have to remember that we are limited in this aspect. We also have to ask the question, “Are we fixing them because we can’t fix our limiting patterns that have been brought to the surface in that relationship?” In learning to let go of our ego and the idea that we will be “the one that changed him/her”, we take a step closer to living a life free of unhealthy expectations. In turn, we become free to live an authentic life that is centred on knowing that we are enough.
We need courage to let go to tap into what lies ahead and, ultimately, self-actualization. Familiarity insulates us from the need to take risks because why do so when we are comfortable? Yet, we must reflect… Do we want comfort or growth?
Unlike a romantic relationship, breaking up with a friend doesn’t carry the same criteria for separation. Broken friendships do not involve legal documents that tell us to move on with our lives. There is no concrete process in place to tell us that the relationship has run its course.
So how can we know when to let go of a friend when there is no obvious reason?
For instance, do we end a friendship with someone who struggles with addiction? When a close friend suddenly has a big shift in values, do we continue? And what if we simply grew apart? Do we push to reconnect to stay friends?
The answer to these questions relies on how the person makes you feel. It’s time to let go when:
The relationship feels forced or transactional. A friendship is transactional when most of the interaction feels like we owe them or it seems like they are with us because you have access to something they want. A forced friendship could mean staying friends with a middle school friend whom we have nothing in common. Growing apart is normal. We become who we were meant to become with the pretence that not everyone we meet along the way will stay. Keep in mind that time (and favours) do not determine the authenticity of a friendship.
We get caught in a cycle of negativity and unhealthy habits. There’s a distinction between venting to a friend for comfort and ranting to put others down. More importantly, we have to be aware of our intentions for being friends with someone who promotes unhealthy psychological, emotional, and physical habits. If we’re left feeling drained, then it’s time to move on.
We feel manipulated. Manipulation, fundamentally, is controlling the emotions of others, and not in a good way. It’s sulking to get someone to feel bad or it’s being especially nice so the other can’t refuse a favour. Often, it is only when we get out of a toxic friendship that we realize that we’ve been manipulated. In this process, we have to let go of two things. The first is the friendship and the second is feeling regretful of not having saved ourselves sooner. Again, it is an opportunity to look within and learn.
Find the courage to face the pain that comes with letting go of a dear friend. Telling someone that we no longer want to be in their lives can feel like we’re being hurtful, but in the end, both will grow.
There are also times when goodbyes are unnecessary and what’s left to do is acknowledge and appreciate that the friendship has served its purpose.
FINDING CLOSURE AND SETTING OUR SELF FREE
Closure is an important step to healing the end of any relationship and moving forward. The worst thing we can do is become bitter and closed off from future connections. It’s also normal to want to protect ourselves from any potential pain. However, doing that can only keep our pain front and centre.
The way to move past the hurt is by being brave and continuing to love the people in our lives fiercely and if possible, unconditionally. Know that we are being courageous by being vulnerable to new meaningful relationships that lie ahead.