Sometimes, the hardest thing we will do as adults is letting go of friendships that we have outgrown.
I think it’s hard because making those connections is not as easy as it was when we were younger.
When we’re kids, we find our friends based on school, sporting activities, church, and where we live.
Then, we make friends in college.
But when we grow up, life pulls us apart so holding on to those friends is challenged, and making new ones is tough.
Those friendships we had in college can shift with marriage and children, then new friendships are forged, followed by another shift if a divorce occurs. Mutual friends often find themselves having to pick sides even if they don’t want to.
So finding friends as we get older can be tough, which makes it even more painful when those relationships end.
We usually find our adult friends where we work, where we are able to commiserate about things in the break room.
Granny always said a mutual hate for a person or thing was a great way to bond. But, that’s not enough to make some friendships stick.
There are just times people grow apart. It’s not a great big fight.
Usually, it is a hundred little things that have needled at you over a while and you realize the person you thought was your friend wasn’t.
A lack of respect, a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy.
It’s the unbalance of feeling like you’re a nuisance any time you reach out, or a burden, yet you are always there for their problems and issues.
It sucks and it hurts.
I was telling Mama about it one day -— how a few people I thought were my friends had not seemed happy for me when I had accomplished a few things.
Not that I needed a cheerleader, but I think it is human nature to want those we care about to be proud of us.
They never acknowledged any of my successes or anything I had done, even though they knew darn good and well how hard I had worked towards those goals.
I had always rooted for them and cheered when they did something, but when the time came for me to have a moment of celebration there was nothing but silence.
Or just an, “Oh, really?”
As if what I had done was trivial.
On the other hand, there are countless times of me being there to hold space and encourage them through whatever crisis or drama they faced — you know, like a good friend should do — only to have it not returned when I needed the same regard.
After a while, I started to get the message.
I was their friend when they needed me, when they wanted to be applauded, when they had a new project they wanted me to support, when I could do something for them.
But when I wanted a smidge in return, I was dismissed.
“I raised you to be a lady,” Mama said. “And a lady always knows when to gracefully leave.”
So that’s what I did.
I bowed out of their lives. I stepped away from their drama, their problems that needed fixing. I learned to create a boundary to protect myself.
“This isn’t the first time you’ve been through this,” Mama noted.
However, I have tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, and when I called them out on the behavior, I always fell for their excuse.
But excuses and apologies without changed behavior is just manipulation.
Even going through a pandemic, where our first instinct is to reach out to others and cling to those we hold dear, when we realize that we are not valued, we know it is time to let go.
Like I mentioned, there wasn’t a big blow up, just an awareness that it was not a situation where I needed to be. Just something I had outgrown for numerous reasons.
I’m sure there’s others who have been in similar situations and felt bad about just backing away from a friendship, but there comes a time when we realize staying friends with someone who only cares about us when we fit their agenda is not healthy for us.
“Making friends when you’re older sure is tough,” I commented to Mama.
She understood. She had only a small group of really close friends and they had all passed away.
“But the ones you do have are solid ones,” she said. “And sometimes, Kitten, that’s all you need.”
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.