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MIssing Absent Friends


lucy1821

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For some reason I am in tears tonight thinking of three friends I lost in 2004-2005. None of them died, but we became estranged through various exigent circumstances that made restoration/reconciliation impossible. Two of these people held very important places in my life and personal development, and I have feelings of guilt related to the loss of the third relationship, even though I really don't think that the relationship could have ended any differently. One of them was my friend for 20 years until she turned on me. Part of this stems from the fact that the older I get, the more frightened I am of the future and the more I wish these people were around. It's hard to let go of the first two losses because I fear losing a part of myself and forgetting what I learned, and it's hard to let go of the third because of the guilt and concern for that individual. Even now, almost eight years later, it still hurts.I often feel very lonely.

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For some reason I am in tears tonight thinking of three friends I lost in 2004-2005. None of them died, but we became estranged through various exigent circumstances that made restoration/reconciliation impossible. Two of these people held very important places in my life and personal development, and I have feelings of guilt related to the loss of the third relationship, even though I really don't think that the relationship could have ended any differently. One of them was my friend for 20 years until she turned on me. Part of this stems from the fact that the older I get, the more frightened I am of the future and the more I wish these people were around. It's hard to let go of the first two losses because I fear losing a part of myself and forgetting what I learned, and it's hard to let go of the third because of the guilt and concern for that individual. Even now, almost eight years later, it still hurts.I often feel very lonely.

Hi Lucy,

Have you thought ever about trying to make amends, like writing a letter stating what you just said to us? Would it help? I know you've said restoration/reconciliation is impossible, but is it really? Is there nothing that can be done? How terribly bad was the circumstances? Did they involved love or death or crime? Even those can be overcome, but it takes some time.

If not, then one thing you can do is to write those friends letters, saying goodbye--even if you never send them--and then close that chapter in your life. Yes, it still hurts, I'm sure. You will never forget what you've learned, and you will not lose a part of yourself if you simply let go. Your memories and your feelings and the lessons you've learned will stay with you.

Do you feel like talking about the guilt? We will be here to listen.

ModKonnie

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Lucy,

Friendships are sometimes what forges us into the people we are today, so losing them can truly be devastating. I agree with ModKonnie, is there a way to make amends? Maybe by taking the first steps you will recuperate that loved relationship. If it doesn't work out that way, you would have the peace of mind that you tried to salvage the situation. A good friendship is built on the foundation of common values, you and your friends sharing your spiritual, moral and ethical convictions. This is what will bring you guys together. Matching traits and similar interests are secondary. Overall, good communication breathes life into a friendship, so maybe taking a few steps might turn things around and/or make you feel better.

Best Wishes,

Ada

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Thank you both for your responses; I really appreciate them. As to guilt and the general story behind the problem:

I feel guilty about the third relationship because of how I handled the situation. I was 20-21 and was friends with a much older guy. (37). I wanted us to be friends, but he wanted more. This man was a very vulnerable person who, like me, grew up being bullied and had a hard time fitting in at the campus where we were both students. In any case, I didn’t heed the warning signs I saw, drank with him, and he wound up groping/sexually assaulting me. I should have stopped the relationship immediately, but I didn’t. It went on for awhile until I broke down in front of friend #2, who reported it to the campus authorities. I feel guilty because I didn’t tell friend #3 that I was going to report what happened and acted like everything was fine in the days leading up to it. The last time I saw him in person, he had no idea what I was going to do and I acted like everything was normal. I also feel that I generally used him for the better aspects of our relationship and that I took advantage of the situation by choosing the particular time I chose to report it. I needed to report it, but one of the reasons I reported it when I did was because I was coming up for review in my major and I felt it was important for it to be on record that the abuse had impacted my work. Ie, I used the situation to gain sympathy. I also feel that I used friend #2 in this regard, even though it was perfectly natural for me to tell him about it, given that he was a close mentor who I often went to with problems. So, I feel confused about what I did. I feel I did the right thing but am disappointed in how I handled it. Also, I’m disappointed in my lack of discretion. Yes, I know that this guy was older than me, but I’ve known since age fourteen that what I was doing was a bad idea, and did it anyway. I also feel gulty for abandoning him, as the end of our relationship caused him a lot of pain and he was a very lonely person. Sometimes I wanted to marry him just to save him from his loneliness. On the other hand, I don’t think the relationship can be fixed because breaking it off was the right thing to do, I’m just unhappy with how I handled it. Sometimes I think that God is punishing me for that relationship by taking my other two friends away.

My relationship with friend # 2 was a professional friendship, but ultimately I came to regard him as something like an older brother, because we were very close within the context of our advisor/advisee relationship. He advised me on academics and personal life. I always felt safe in his office and really, really looked up to him. He was very caring and went out of his way to help me in whatever way he could, being an advocate, being an “ear”, etc. I often found myself in his office crying because of how other students and faculty treated me, due to a learning disorder. He was an advocate for me in my department and wrote a recommendation which lead to my being accepted into a prestigious honors program. We prayed together, and he was sometimes moved to tears by my struggles. He was the first friend I had who I felt was stronger/wiser than I was. ( Because I experienced a lot of pain growing up, I spent a lot of time reaching out to people who were in pain, which lead to me having friends who were not always the most stable people). He had to move a year after my relationship with person #3 and ended and my relationship with person #1 was falling apart. I was devastated. At one point I totally lost it and begged him not to leave, etc. This put tension between us as he felt that I had become too dependent on him. Obviously, I regret this and have apologized, but I can’t take it back. We’re still in touch, in fact, he’s editing a book I’m contributing to. However, our original “bond” can never really be re-established. We’re professional contacts, but he lives far away and months go by without hearing from him at all, and I really miss talking to him. What’s more, he knows this, but those are the boundaries he feels are necessary. I don’t really blame him, but it hurts.The hard thing, too, is that he initially had a hard time communicating this to me. Ie, he didn’t come right out and say his lack of communication was a boundary issue, I had to figure it out myself. For years after he left our only contact was an occasional curt email. Our relationship is better now, as I said, but I still grieve the loss of the close, brother-like connection I felt to him. I don’t think that this can be fixed, either, I just have to accept that the person I knew before he left is essentially gone. One would think that the vast hole I felt his leaving created would have lessened a lot more since I graduated from college, but the pain is still there. If I could fix the relationship, I definitely would, and I think that out of the three, this one has the most potential for reconciliation, as, in a sense, we have already had some reconciliation via various mutual efforts. However, I've tried to accept that my future relationship with this person is not going to be the same as it was, and I suppose that this is what I am grieving.

Relationship #1 was with a woman who I was friends with since age two. We grew up together and many of my best memories involve her. I tried to be a really good fried to her. Anyhow, things fell apart when she moved from her college in Florida to mine in MA. She started dating a really manipulative guy who told her I was a bad influence on her. Then, one time he picked me, her and another woman up at the mall and started verbally abusing me when he realized I was along for the ride (I guess he thought it was just my friend and the other woman). The verbal abuse continued until I stuck up for myself and he pulled over and tried to force me to get out of the car. At midnight. In the rain. About a week later he apologized, but then he started coming up to us on campus and listening to our conversations when I was trying to speak to my friend privately. Then I overheard him telling her I was a bad influence/person. She started listening to whatever he said and treating me badly whenever he was around. She then went and told him, and he told all our other friends, ALL my personal secrets. And I do mean ALL of them, since she’d been my friend for twenty years by that point. Then, she would act like she wanted to be my best friend when he wasn’t around. I tried to help repair our relationship. At one point she asked if she could go away with me and my family for the weekend and I agreed, even though I knew I was being used, and it turned out I was-she started treating me badly again right after that. Multiple times I accepted her apologies only to have her turn around and treat me badly whenever he was around. Then at one point she manipulated me into getting into the car again with her boyfriend driving and it ended the same way, with him verbally abusing me and me being dropped at a supermarket. I ran inside, crying, and she and her boyfriend told the concerned manager that I hadn’t taken my anti depressant in two days. (This was true, because I LOST my medication and confided in her about it, but I was crying because of what was going on in the car.) Then, we were alienated for several months, then we made up again. She invited me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding and then changed her mind and said she wasn’t even sure she wanted me there. At that point I broke off the relationship. She married her manipulative, conniving boyfriend. She would periodically make contact, but she never apologized for her behavior or indicated that she took responsibility for it, and I felt that renewing the relationship would only lead to more pain. I don’t think the relationship can ever be salvaged unless I want to be treated like a punching bag, and I don’t. It kills me, because now, whenever I reflect on my childhood, I think of her. It’s heartbreaking to know that one cannot even trust someone one was friends with for 20 years. The problem with reconciliation isn't so much that I don't want to, but that she's still married to the guy who caused all of this and most likely still hates me. If both of them apologized and then made a serious effort to prove that they were not going to mistreat me again, then perhaps reconciliation might be possible, and I would welcome it. Or, I suppose if they got divorced and she was no longer under his influence, reconciliation could happen, but I think it's probably wrong to wish bad things on their marriage. But, if they are going to behave as they have, then I don't see how reconciliation could work unless I decided to put up with a lot of abuse, which I feel is unhealthy. Still, I miss her terribly. :(

All three losses happened in the span of one year, between the spring of 2004 and 2005. I felt like three of my friends had been killed in car accidents, but there were no funerals to attend because they were all alive. It's hard to discuss these losses with anyone because they are complicated. In fact, sometimes I do lie and say I had three friends die in one year, just because that's easier to say then going into everything. Those three people were the ones I would have gone to with a great loss, and although people did reach out to me in my pain, I never become close friends in the way I was with these three. (Well, I guess in the case of person #3, I mean the person he was when he wasn’t being abusive). The year they all left was the last time I felt like I really functional adult. I was just starting to feel like things were going to be ok when the loss of friends 2 and 1 happened. I’m afraid to stop thinking about the losses because I’m afraid I’ll forget the person I was growing up with my friend, or the lessons I learned from my advisor. I guess I don't want to forget the good parts of relationship #3, although those memories are less dear to me, obviously. The next three years after the losses were spent with mthe e wanting time to go as fast as possible so I could at least get away from the college environment in which I had experienced so much pain, and the next few years were spent struggling in grad school (I’m still in grad school now). I feel like my twenties have just been a big mess, which is sad, since that’s supposed to be one of the best times in one’s life. I have significant clinical depression, an eating disorder, no job, etc, so I am also worried about the future. I wish I could talk to one of my friends about my feelings. I wish things had happened differently. It hurts.

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