Changes in Friendships Over Forty

Friendship self discovery Wellness

It's a rainy Sunday, a perfect time to talk about an issue that we all face as women, and, let's be real, it's something that spans the ages - sorry you spring chickens who look forward to your more established years. Friendships still change and sometimes they just fall apart. Sometimes they even fall apart and no one ever tells you....those are the ones that really stink.

There are two types of friend break-ups, one of which is the subject of this post today because no matter how old I get or how many accomplishments  I matter how much love I am surrounded with, it still stings.

It's a sad reality for me as I enter my 'later' forties this whole friendship loss thing --I assume some of you will also relate. Maybe by sharing this it will help you feel a little less alone in this experience because it isn't really so much about us, in fact. I'll explain.

I always thought that by this age things like friendships would be more established. Most of them are, don't get me wrong. I have friends that have been a part of my life since first grade and others that are newer, or a reconnection, and I value the ladies in my life without question. Those friend bring incredible joy and a lot of laughter to my every day.

Here's the thing with me, though,  I'm kind of private in many respects. It takes a while for me to take down the walls that friendships require, to move past the parts of myself that even I might be uncomfortable with, like the anxiety I have been plagued with since I was just a little kid, or the fact that I'm probably too sensitive and emotional for most people....for instance. So when I think someone is a fabulous soul that I would love to get to know, and especially when they reach out to make a connection, I do my best to put forth effort and get to know them. I treasure the friendships with those whom I just 'click' and try not to take them for granted. I hope they will always be around.

The problem is sometimes they aren't. And you are left wondering what went wrong. Sometimes people just vanish from your life with no real explanation. This is the type of friendship loss I am addressing today. It has happened to me, to my sister, even to my mom - who everyone loves. It just happens. It doesn't mean we have to like it, but we can learn from it.

Sometimes things change, and I'm not talking about the friendships that gradually fade due to distance or changes in common interests or I'm talking about the friendships that seem to stop rather abruptly and leave you wondering where things went wrong.

These are the experiences that leave a sense of lingering doubt behind coupled with a twinge of sadness. What's worse, as someone who is a 'fixer' of things, you sometimes have to come to the realization that not everything is within your control. Sometimes you simply don't know someone as well as you thought you did. Sometimes they have their own reasons for walking away that don't have a thing to do with you.

I have learned to let go, but with social media, there are reminders, aren't there? Sporting a thick skin has never been my strong suit, but it's becoming one. 

“The only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs.”
― Shannon L. Alder

I was hit with a harsh reality while reading an article about this in search of some inspiration to write today, and that is this: by stewing over lost friendships, I am wasting time that could be spent with the wonderful women who choose to share   time, conversations and experiences with me.

So, in comes the learning part. Friends, we need to be careful who we let into our lives I think. It's okay to be choosy and even a little guarded. It's also okay to dive into a new friendship and mourn it if it dissolves. I'm a little more guarded these days, but I don't let it deprive me of connections and experiences. That wouldn't represent much growth, just a little more wisdom.

I no longer accept that things must always be my fault because that's just silly. People behave in ways that speak about themselves and their own situations. I've learned not to be so self-centered; I just let them go and deal with the little reminders that still sting now and then.

A little truth, though, To me it doesn't really matter if there's not enough time or life is busy because...we make the time for the people and things that are important to us. It's about priorities. And my female friendships are a priority. I've made changes in my life to ensure there is always some amount of time for them, because I've been the 'distant friend' before and I won't be again. My friends deserve better than that.

Life goes on  as they say, and we have to let go. If we don't, there will never be room for new friends to come along and join the ride. I'm lucky that it has only happened once or twice to me, and with each of those experiences I have grown and learned. I do know that I have a choice. I can stew and linger in self doubt --no one likes to be ignored, after all, or.... I can throw a little positive energy their way and wish them well.

“Life is a bus ride, with only so many seats. It took me a long time to comprehend that sometimes people had to leave my life, to make room for the better ones, but once I understood that it became easier to let go, and I was surprised at just how quickly new, interesting people somehow found their way onto my bus.”
― Dodie Clark, Secrets for the Mad


And then I grab my purse and sunglasses and I head out for coffee with one of those ladies who is still here, waiting with a smile and a story, to make more memories, laugh a little, and share in the challenges and triumphs of growing older in this thicker friends do.



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