Taking the time to say Goodbye

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Ann & ChrisI just watched the Parks and Recreation episode where Ann & Chris move to Michigan (click on link for episode).   I was unprepared that these two characters were leaving the show for good!  For some reason, I thought that they were going to change their minds and their proposed departures were just a temporary plot twist.

Anyway, I found myself sad that they were leaving, and I realized that I hadn’t really conducted proper goodbyes when I moved to Kansas from Oregon.  I started thinking about closure and ending friendships, and I think now there were several factors adversely affecting my transition:

1) Most friends defriended me first.

I had recently gotten married and some of my “close” friends were upset that I had gotten married at all. They wanted me to remain their wingman. So they ended the friendship on those grounds.  There might have been time for reconciliation if I’d stayed in Oregon but moving away killed those options.

2) Our move was sudden.

On a cognitive level I had plenty of time to understand that we were planning to move, but the logistics of moving 1500 miles took only three weeks.  Looking back, this was not enough time to adequately say goodbye to my parents and friends, sort through belongings, and mentally prepare for a major life change.  I don’t think three weeks is adequate time for closure.

3)  I didn’t want my employer to know I was leaving.

In retrospect, I am sure there could have been a better way to handle this, but at the time, I was angry with my boss for laying off my husband (we worked for the same office) and I was retaliating by not giving ample leeway of my imminent departure.  Since I didn’t want my boss to know I was moving away, I didn’t tell any coworkers either, so I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my friends at work.  This proved to be a devastating mistake since I ruined chances to stay in touch with them as well as creating a sudden hole in my social network.  I went from having lots of buddies to having no one overnight. Very lonely, for sure.

I encourage you to read this post by the Modern Nomad.  It was helpful for me to sort through feelings since I’ve moved a lot too, so this probably contributes to my bad behavior of not properly saying goodbye to lots of people over the years, for many reasons.  Saying Goodbye | The Modern Nomad.

One thing I have learned and have already improved upon is conducting a proper goodbye at work.  I need to make sure to say goodbye adequately to non-work friends also.

The Anatomy of Friendship | Aly Walansky

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From The Huffington Post:

The Anatomy of Friendship | Aly Walansky.

When you are young, making friends feels effortless.

You fall into deeply intimate friendships with the girl who sits next to you in math class, your shift mate at the Dairy Queen. You don’t really have to work at it, because there seems to always be people with common interests right there, eager to hang out and become your new confidant.

But when was the last time you made a new friend? A real, true friend who withstood the test of time and life complications? Someone who you really, truly love — not just someone to bitch and moan with at the office Keurig, but who will be there for you in a snap, who you can call at anytime, and who can call you at 3 a.m.? That person who, no matter what, will always be there for you?

I’m touching upon a pretty difficult birthday in a few weeks, and it’s heading up a year that has been the hardest one of my life. (And that’s saying a lot, because I spent the birthday prior in the ICU.) This has been a year that’s seen a lot of changing relationships, and lost ones. And I discovered, as I pick up the pieces and try to move on, that as you reach your thirties, it gets increasingly difficult to make true and lasting friends. Why is that? And what can we do about it?

We just don’t have the time anymore

Sure, we thought we had it rough in high school and college — but in retrospect, that was all youthful naiveté. Many of us now work ceaseless hours and while we may have many people we love spending time with, we all too often just don’t have the time to spend. It’s hard enough to maintain ties with our dearest friends. Do we have time to add new ones to the mix?

We’ve solidified our identities

If you think about it, as we grow up, the friends we have are a crucial part of the person we develop into. Our friendships determine who we are in a lot of ways we don’t even realize. But as we get older, we sort of already know who are and it gets harder. We now need to cultivate relationships that compatible with our own inherent self. They don’t need to be just like us, but they do need to be someone that doesn’t leave us wanting to rip our hair out, either. Because, as said above, who has time for that? We didn’t have this criteria as kids because we simply didn’t know what our criteria was. It hadn’t been created yet.

Friendships are a lot like dating

A friend of mine recently moved across the country on a whim. She’s happier than she’s ever been, and I noted when I saw her recently that it’s amazing she made friends so quickly. She shared a mutual friend had been setting her up on “friendship blind dates” — lady dates where she’d meet a new potential friend for drinks or a show. For her, it’d been working really well.

For me, I was unsure how I’d personally fare at something like that. If dating itself so often feels like a job interview, imagine having to interview for an entirely new social circle?

People show you who they really are (and you may not like it)

When we were kids, the worst thing that ever happened in friendships would be that my fifth grade BFF would start sitting with someone else at lunch. It felt tragic at the time, but by the next day, I had a new BFF. It was easy then. Now, when we make and lose friends, the parameters feel a lot larger — it’s very much like a breakup, possibly even a death. There are so many different types of friendship breakups. The people who say they will be there for you, and then ultimately aren’t. The people who put you on an impossibly high pedestal — and then one day tear the chair out from under you. The people who get married or have babies and suddenly just aren’t as available as they once were. And, there’s the most common type of friendship end in your 30s — the ones that drift apart. You simply have different interests now, and nothing left to talk about. As I said, it’s kind of like a divorce, and just as hard to come back from.

Even with tons of friends, life can be lonely. Especially if these friends are long distance, or people you predominantly chat with on the Internet. No tweet can hug you when you are sad. No email can give you someone to meet for an impromptu happy hour when you’ve had a bad day.

This has been an incredibly hard year for me, one where a lot of friendships have simply disappeared. And I’ve discovered that maybe, as you get older, it’s not the same anymore. You don’t need to have loads of friends. You need to have a few really good ones. And when you manage to have that — and, praise the lord, I do — treat them like the gold they are. You’ll never have a more precious asset. And, as you may have noticed, they aren’t so easy to replace.