The following was posted by Sarah G. Carter on Vibrant Nation. I wanted to share it here because I found it very interesting – I think this has happened to each of us to some degree during our life. I know it has happened to me. – Sheri

I’ve been thinking about the long list of women with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to have been intimately connected over the course of my life. Some are physically gone–my grandmother, both aunts, my oldest friend’s mother–but none forgotten. Their lessons and presence are with me still, a part of the fabric of who I am, and how I understand the world.

There are also many who, with time and circumstances, now exist in different orbits, no longer touching mine as frequently as they once did. Old school mates, women I met through business, through children, through art, through shared interests of many kinds. Invariably, some stood out. We recognized each other and connected immediately through some magic that remains in place still, despite varying degrees of ongoing contact. I can honestly say, with each and every one of these wonderful women, I could pick up the phone today and find the same level of ease and communication in place, still alive and intact.

The history of my love affairs with my female friends is one of energetic polygamy rather than serial monogamy–a network of crossroads and intersections mercifully free of the burnt bridges and abandoned by-ways that mark my romantic history with men. Except in one case. I have lived through one “friend divorce,” and though it’s been almost ten years now, it’s still painful to think about it.

We met at college, and were drawn to each other immediately. Then I left to get married (now there’s a story of misguided youth), and we mostly lost touch. But we reconnected with a vengeance almost twenty years later, and a major league friendship was launched. For about six years, and despite the fact that she lived in Atlanta, and I was in Richmond, we shared the ups and downs of each others lives–children, marriage, careers, ideas about life and how to juggle it all. We talked constantly and saw each other often, as I was traveling to Atlanta a lot to work on a project we did together. It turned out to be a particularly tumultuous period in my life. My second marriage was coming apart at the seams. I was a single mother trying to raise adolescent boys without a viable father figure. My friend, working at the time as a school psychologist, listened faithfully and patiently, offering her best advice on anything and everything as I struggled to find my way.

Then something snapped.

The details and sequence of events and words are blurry and unclear to me now (probably a self-protective mechanism of the psyche) but suffice it to say, she blew. Describing in detail all my shortcomings of character, as well as my many transgressions as a friend, she said she simply “couldn’t do it anymore.”

I still can’t quite piece it all together. There was an initial explosion, and then, a few months later, after I lost my son Finley, it was all over. She wrote me off. To this day, she has never approached the subject or me again, nor responded to overtures from me. During our years together, she told me about others she had been close to–including three sisters–who had disappointed her in some way and were now no longer part of her life. I was surprised at such drastically terminal measures, but never imagined it was possible that it would happen to me, to us. I truly believed that what we had together was too real, too valuable to be vulnerable to the vicissitudes of female drama.

Not so.

As I have looked back on it over all the intervening years, it has been hard to acknowledge, let alone accept, the many ways I must have contributed to the demise of our friendship. There had to have been cues I missed, unintended slights both large and small, and missteps I didn’t catch, lost and absorbed as I was in the depth of my own problems. I feel sincere remorse for my shortcomings as a friend, as well as for the apparently permanent loss of someone who was important to me for so long. I miss her laughter, her energy, her natural generosity, her mischievous spirit, and her ability to stay grounded in the practicalities of real life, while holding on to a childlike sense of magic and possibility. I believed we saw the world in much the same way, and I truly miss her companionship.

But I’ve also had to see that she too has her demons and flaws. It’s no more appropriate for me to take all of the blame for our inability to “go the distance” as friends than it is to lay it all at her feet. Somehow, I inadvertently hit a nerve. I must have touched a wounded, fearful place in her that triggered an “attack and run” response. It must have carried the weight of nothing less than self-preservation. She had her limits, I pushed against them, and there it was. “Done and dusted,” as Russ likes to say.

With the distance and perspective of the intervening years, I’ve finally faced the fact that it’s highly unlikely we will ever find our way back. And I see now that it’s okay. People, events, work, ideas, joys and sorrows come in and out of our lives in unpredictable ways. They may flow through, but we are forever changed by each of them in one way or another. My old friend is with me still. The many times we laughed together, plotted, cried, and commiserated, are as real in me as they ever were, and I am the better for them. More able to draw on the experience in order to find it again, more able to recognize the “light” that drew us to each other in the first place. All of that could be lost by focusing on blame, or holding onto sadness. Refusing to let go of anger or hurt would only mean shortchanging myself.

I see now that the exaggerated hurt and sense of abandonment had mostly to do with my own misplaced stuff–my willingness to play “victim” to something “she did to me,” my propensity for getting lost in my own stories of being judged as wrong, or bad, or unworthy, or abandoned by someone I believed cared. I can get stuck there, but to what end? In truth, all the things I loved about her are still as true as they ever were, and I wish her nothing but the best. She’s doing her life, as we all do, as best she can. No one ever said it was easy.

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