#TBT: The Village Voice – Part One: Breaking Up is Hard To Do…..

26 Feb

In honor of #tbt (that’s Throw-Back Thursday) we are bringing back some of our (and your!) favorite pieces, many of them updated with new pics! Enjoy!

A couple of previous posts of mine The Value of Mom Friends and The Friendship Village, kind of explored who we surround ourselves with. Watching Ben and his buddies negotiate the art of friendships and interacting with my own friends lately has really had this village business on my mind. I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve been thinking…..

While winter seems to rage on and people cannot yet do their early spring cleaning, something in the dust must be making many of us want to do an internal clean up instead….

On separate occasions over the past three weeks, five different people – two former staff members (now into their late thirties and early forties), a newer mom friend and two teens I know through my son – have all engaged me in conversations about the mostly painful process of cleaning out the ‘friend closet’.

Through our conversations, I realized that I have evaluated and weighed the importance and the relevance of many relationships through the years. And as painful as some of those experiences were – and truthfully in some cases – continue to be, somewhere along the way, I decided I had to be true to myself and carry on surrounded by friends and family who care about me and those I love, in the same proportions as I care about them.

My conversations with the adults were not totally unlike the ones I had with my younger friends. And as a side note, I have always taken issue with adults characterizing a conflict between friends as acting like they are in middle school. I think people are just people and chronological age does not automatically shield us from hurt feelings (or hurting others), negative thoughts or over-reactive/protective responses.

So, in one of my conversations, a special young girl I adore realized that she was pouring her energy into people at school who didn’t seem to want to be her friends. She has tried desperately (her 13 year old words) to fit into ‘that group’ for all of middle school and she just didn’t know what else to do to be part of the perceived ‘in crowd’.

One of the adults told me that although she thought she could trust a friend she had had for several years, she found out that everything she shared with that woman was being shared with a whole lot of others – so much so that when her particular group of friends were together, she was afraid to walk out of the room first because she was so sure she would be talked about!

Yet another of my friends who is new to her son’s school this year has felt judged and left out by the group that sees themselves as ‘the mom’s’.  She doesn’t even necessarily like what she sees from these moms, but she doesn’t want to feel left out, either.

The other woman I spoke with felt friends moving in and out of her life, unable to be part of a bigger group of friends and unable to get truly close with other mom’s from her kids’ school or her co-workers.  As she told me about the people she once felt close to, I realized there was a real pattern there and that she was probably contributing largely to her situation by being a little self-consumed, a lot unreliable and even a little possessive with her friends.  It started in high school, continued through college and her first two jobs and she was experiencing it again now that she has school age kids and her third job.

And finally, the boy in the group – a teen – told me that he felt like somewhat of an outcast because sometimes he just wanted to hang low (his 14 year old words) and most of the boys in his school circle of friends made fun of his lack of desire to go out and do….well, when it came down to it in his mind, nothing, actually!

From all of this, and from my own ‘break-ups’ through my 50+ years – an early business partnership that didn’t work out, a divorce and a couple of painful break-ups with women I once held dear, I have learned the following, which I hope I’m passing onto Ben and anyone who has come seeking some clarity:

  • We will all be disappointed by people we let into our inner circle and inner self – it’s part of being human.  Most of the time and most of the people will do this unintentionally and mostly be unaware of their impact. It’s essential (and really, really hard) to learn to know the difference between a friend who has a moment’s lapse of judgment and unintentionally hurts us with their words or actions and one who continually lets us down, is offensive, harsh or unaware of his/her impact on others . And it’s hard not to take those things personally!! But the truth is, I usually find that someone I might be struggling with is puzzlement to others, as well.
  • One thing I hope I pass onto Ben (and to remember myself!) is to see that getting along with others and developing relationships is a lesson we will tackle all of our lives. Mostly, we need to recognize that sometimes, we will be the one to hurt another or disappoint someone. We may be the one someone needs to pull away from. We just might be responsible for creating the friction in our village or with an individual. So self-evaluation and learning to take responsibility for our actions and behaviors is every bit as important as evaluating the people around us. It’s like the Art Garfunkel song that you may know (and hopefully love!!), All I Know …”I bruise you, you bruise me, we both bruise too easily. Too easily to let it show. I love you and that’s all I know.”  If you haven’t heard it, take a listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaBjY-zm0sI  (When Ben reads this, you know he’s going to roll his eyes right here!)
  • The old adage ‘people come into your life for a reason or a season’ quote is so true. I think our job, then, is to appreciate acquaintances for the brief appearance they make in our lives, maybe learn a lesson or two or share a laugh or two and hold it close to our hearts as a fun but fleeting memory. Others we get to know are lifers – people who will stay around forever!
  • When it comes to letting go…this is really tricky! There are painful times when we have to make a clean, deliberate break with a friend or loved one to protect ourselves from becoming too negative, hurt, being dragged into drama or we might simply need to push forward into a new phase of our life.  There are other situations where it is easier to let a friendship fade a little at a time, especially when we know the person(s) we need distance from are people who are and will continue to be intertwined in our lives – colleagues, circles of friends, neighbors or family.

Wow…I feel like I could go on with this stuff for a very long time. There’s a lot to say about our villages, don’t you think? What our roles are in each of our circles, handling shifts in the village, how we can help our kids cultivate their villages… How are things in your village?

Stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “#TBT: The Village Voice – Part One: Breaking Up is Hard To Do…..”

  1. Julie March 21, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    Ummm Hmmm…you are a lifer TC whether we like it or not, we’re both in it for the long haul~

  2. Terri Cassels Cooper March 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Jules – I’m pretty happy about being a lifer with you!!

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