I have abandonment issues that date back to the age of two when the man who fathered me left for good. I’d much rather leave you than be left, and I’ll admit to that any day. The feeling of being left is the worst thing I’ve ever known, second to none. So it makes this season one of the hardest I’ve faced in a while.
It’s that time of life, I guess. Everyone grows up and leaves, off to explore the world and live varying adventures. That is exciting, don’t get me wrong. There’s a part of me that’s really happy to see my friends happy. But those who are leaving have no idea how hard it is for the ones being left behind to smile and celebrate with hearts that weigh a thousand pounds. They don’t understand the inner battle that, for me, is externally expressed as outbursts of anger. It wouldn’t be this hard if there were only one good friend leaving. But of the four women who know me better than I give them credit for, all of them are leaving/gone. And that’s not even half of the disappearing group.
People say, “Don’t worry, you’ll meet new, wonderful people.” And due to my excellent home training and immense self-control, I refrain from slapping them into oblivion. Making friends is easy for some, this is true. But it is hard, hard work for this girl. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. On the contrary, it is buried in a chest within a locked room in a tall tower. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ll admit to the fact that there are a lot of people who think I’m great – people who read my blog and think I’m brilliant or people I have funny conversations with at dinner or those head-in-the-clouds people who think everyone is just great. But in reality, 98% of those people know nothing about me. Because I make you work for it. And authentic friendships are exhausting – caring for another person, listening to their rambles on hard days, celebrating with them on good days, sharing life with them, all of that is wildly exhausting. And call me a wuss, but I can only do that with so many people at a given time.
So when the ones I’ve poured my heart and soul into over the years or months, up and leave, and I’m expected to just start all over again with new people (who will most likely leave at some point too), I want to scream bloody murder. And in fact, I do. I don’t know how to start over. And if I’m being completely honest, I have no desire to. What’s the use in beginning the most vulnerable, tiring process all over again when I’ll find myself in this place again a few years down the road? Clearly, I haven’t learned to hold on to people with a loose grip, as a gift not an entitlement. But my natural reaction is to shut down, pull away, retract. It makes the goodbye easier when I’ve already begun the process of detaching myself.
Some say that true friends leave footprints in your heart. Well I want your damn foot, not just a footprint.
Go ahead. Call me bitter. Irrational. Selfish. You’d be absolutely correct. But walk a lifetime in the shoes of a girl who’s always struggled with the idea that she isn’t good enough for anyone to stay, and maybe you’ll see that I’m not so irrational.