I recently ended a ‘passionate friendship’ and the following words, by Jeanne Safer, really resonated with my process and experience. See if it resonates with you….!
Lost Friends Are As Haunting As Lost Lovers,
(and just as hard to replace).
From Broken Bridge, by Jeanne Safer
….”There is no term to describe the breakup of a passionate friendship, no ritual or legal proceeding to mark its end, the way divorce does for marriage, even though it often leaves just as large a hole in the psyche.
Lost friends are as haunting as lost lovers, and just as hard to replace. The more abrupt and inexplicable their behavior, the more troubling and insidious the toll. The fallout from betrayal by friends can resonate for decades.
One of the most devastating aspects of being spurned by a beloved friend is the sense of unreality it induces. You think, Can this actually be happening to US?
To lose someone who is still physically present yet suddenly psychically absent or altered seems unbelievable. Knowing you will never laugh together again or share confidences with reckless ease causes its own brand of helpless longing. The explanation, if any is offered, can never fully explain.
What underlies the death of serious friendships?……The causes may never be known, but they shake one’s emotional foundation and undermine a cherished and tenacious assumption–that there are at least a few people you can always count on, no matter what, that their love transcends any conflict, that you can always talk it over, that you are as indispensable to them as they are to you. The details of the end game burn into memory–the last conversation that cannot be unsaid, the coldness that replaced the warmth you counted on. It can be easier to accept death itself than that such a friend can turn away forever and no longer wish you well…..
Because this friendship had been so precious to me, I went about a deliberate process of reconsidering and working through its meaning, of not just filing it bitterly away but letting it live again, if only in my own mind.
I believe that one of the most important things in life is not to lose anything of value that you have ever gotten from someone, living or dead—including those who forsook you, betrayed you, or bitterly disappointed you. Love, joy and meaning can be resurrected from the most unlikely sources……
When there is something meaningful to retrieve from a past relationship, celebrating it is a genuine compensation for loss. If anything in your love was real–imperfect, ambivalent, obsessive, or selfish in part, but tender and true at the core–it is yours forever, even though the one you loved loves you no longer, or never fully returned your devotion. The authentic core of love is eternal, even if the person who inspired it will never return to you.
But you have to hold fast to it and fight through your despair and disappointment to find it, ressurect it, and claim it…..the memory of having been loved and understood in a unique way by a person the likes of whom I would never find again.
I wasn’t cutting off hope for other intimate friendships, but I knew that no once could ever replace
her; because relationships are not interchangeable. Even if I could never forgive her, that love was real, precious, and indestructible…..She changed, but I retained what she had given me the good she had done me–and her later unloving actions could not wrest it away.
I had no illusions about rekindling our relationship, but I began to recall it with pleasure and gratitude, despite it’s denouement. My lost friend is woven into the fabric of myself, where damage and delight intermingle. Now my memories of her are real, three dimensional–bright as well as dark.”
If you wish to read the full article, you can find it in Psychology Today, March/April 2016, “Broken Bridge”