When History Isn’t Enough

The hard truths have been revealing themselves to me in what feels like rapid succession lately. The past few years have played havoc with my wounded heart and my battered soul and my aching spirit. I have been lifted to highs I hadn’t dared dream about and crashed into depths from which I never thought I could emerge. We all experience ups and downs at various times in our lives. This has been a ride like none I’d experienced before though. There is so much growth coming from these struggles and variances, but it has been painful – physically, emotionally, and mentally. New realizations – BIG realizations – come to me in waves that feel like a tsunami crashing down on me. They come in the middle of my workday, on my commute to work, during dinner with my son, in the middle of the night. There is no down-time. No time when I can simply relax. I know that I am becoming a better person – a more authentic person – as I transition through these moments. But the person I am leaving behind was my identity for half a century. It’s hard to let that go. There is a fear that tags along on this journey that often feels so much bigger than my brave.

The fear that stays close to me through these realizations can sometimes cause tunnel vision and obscure my ability to see the bigger picture. I become so focused on one piece of my growth that I am then caught off guard when I start connecting the dots to a broader aspect of my life. During a recent internal struggle, I came to one of these epiphanies. I found myself feeling very resentful toward a situation – and a person. Then guilt would overtake me due to the resentment. I would cycle around and around through resentment, guilt, resolve, and so many more feelings. As my internal arguments pushed on, I found myself feeling deep sorrow for this other person that was quickly blocked by anger – which was, in turn, disbursed by a return of the sadness. I struggled not only with the situation, but my seemingly conflicted feelings which were completely tangential to the situation. I began to question my ability to be of any help to this person in their situation if I couldn’t get my own feelings – as a disinterested party – under control.

Then I realized how very interested I was in this situation – or, rather, the person. What was happening in their life had nothing to do with me. This was someone with whom I had deep and impactful history, however. What they were going through was important to me because they were important to me. We have shared years of struggles and sorrows and smiles and laughs. I have kept this person close to me because that’s where they had always been in the past. We went our separate ways at times but always drew back toward each other. We have shared 40 years of history and that holds weight in my heart. Time will always matter to me. Even when it shouldn’t.

Now I find myself realizing how much I have let history dictate our relationship and I am questioning the validity of that. Words echo in the back of my mind…..if I’d met them today, would we become friends? In all our ups and downs, eye rolls and sighs, I never questioned our friendship. Yet here I was ready to answer……”no.”

In that moment, my heart broke and history finally fell completely to the past. This isn’t a friendship; it is a continuation of an historical narrative. Nothing more.

I think I am choosing to end my friendship, and this is a difficult and painful thing for me. I don’t leave people. I don’t walk away from the hard parts. As someone who often clings to people I care about long after they have moved past me, making the first move toward separation feels like I have turned to evil. I am putting myself first and that feels horrible to me (there’s a whole lot of work to be done on just this thought alone). Of course, I know that I have come to this realization after a great deal of time in deep reflection and that this is necessary for my own healing and journey to a more authentic self. Part of my authenticity, though, is an aching desire not to hurt others. This puts me in direct conflict with myself. The work to a better self is never without struggle.

Now I need to start with new work – this time, learning how to hold those who make up my history in honesty. This is not the time for rose-colored glasses. This is not the time to sugar-coat the moments we shared. Our history is important – the moments of love and the ones of struggle. But history alone is not a reason to keep moving forward in hurt or resentment. I will keep our happy memories, cradled in my heart. But today our story changes.

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