When Connections Fray


A friend of mine said something interesting to me back in March. She said, “[It m]akes me wonder what the next big bonding experience will be,” in reference to mutual friendships and how they have progressed. I didn’t notice it at the time, but that sentence came to mind recently right before I fell asleep and I realized that there is something in it that felt remarkably free. It was as if she had unveiled this divine secret to me that I just couldn’t grasp or understand until now. The secret?

Not all connections last.

It feels like she acknowledged it, accepted it (though the idea is hard and clearly does cause her pain), and was preparing herself to move on, happy to remember the good times and work through and file away the bad. It also felt like she was looking forward to new connections and friendships on down the road, the “next big bonding experience”, and she had just shared this secret of freedom with me. But it’s not exactly a secret, is it? It’s a truth.

Not all connections last.

I have had connections break and friendships end before, but that took a pretty deep hurt or traumatic catalyst to happen. One such catalyst was being thrown under the bus of someone else’s lies accusing me sexually harassing him and trying to steal him away from his wife. Not only being accused but those rumors — completely untrue, by the way — being spread around to people I knew and even those I didn’t know. That connection was done. Friendship over. No turning back, no second glances and no regrets. That is not something a connection can come back from, at least not for me.

In general, though, I am a personality type that works to preserve my connections, especially those that have been formative to who I consider myself to be as a woman and a person. So a truth like the one above can be hard for me to swallow at times. Very hard. Letting go can be quite painful and it feels suspiciously like giving up to me, but it doesn’t make the truth any less the truth.

Not all connections last. Not all friendships/relationships remain close-knit or even remain, period.

I still communicate with my friends from high school but have only really remained close with one. I still communicate with very dear friends from college but have also lost touch with more than I care to admit over the past eleven years. I still have some close friends from nine or ten years ago, but some of those connections have ended, others rather abruptly. Others I still hold near and dear to my heart, are still thriving with synapses firing in both directions, and those are lovely and life-giving.

But not all connections last. And sometimes that is incredibly difficult for us as interconnected, interdependent human beings to accept. But we do need to accept it. To refuse to do so will rob us of the joy that we can take in the connections that still remain, as well as rob us of the ability to grow and mature and continue to build ourselves up with new connections and new, deep bonds that resonate with this particular season in our lives.

Now, please, do not mistake me. I am not saying that we should just give up on the old bonds and connections that helped us along this road of life. No, no, no. If there is still life there, nurture it and be intentional about preserving those connections and friendships. Life is busy, yes, but make time. At the same time, though, you know as well as I do that sometimes connections fail, bonds unravel (swiftly or slowly), and friendships can fade for any number of reasons (and most not malicious). If that happens, if you have tried to stem this flow and it continues, it is all right to step back and let it go if you feel that it’s necessary and for the best. Don’t be afraid, however much you might feel so. Believe me, this message is just as much for me as it is for you.

Not all connections last. And that is all right.

Some people find it easy to end connections, move on, and find new ones. For some, it is not so easy and can be incredibly painful. I am one of the latter; I only have a handful of people at a time whom I would call “close friends”, with whom I am comfortable being wholly myself, and from whom I fear nothing. However, none of this makes anyone else’s experience any less valid or the truth of this any less…well, true. Not all connections or friendships last. Life flows and carries us with it, no matter how hard we tend to dig in our heels.

There is a goal in all of this change, however. Lynn Cowell wrote a thought so well that it has stuck with me continuously: “Every day we are becoming something different. The question is, Who are we becoming? During the planting, watering and weeding of change, if we will be diligent and faithful during each season, we’ll see beauty grow in our lives.”

Each season of our life (even those of change) has different needs and those that enter our lives during those seasons can help us grow in specific ways. This article is not a call to be cruel. It is not a rallying cry to take a pruning shears to your life. Rather, it is a permission slip to acknowledge that, sometimes, it is okay to let go, to let things and people go. It might not be easy and we may not like it. Actually, it might be difficult and quite painful. However, we can still “allow the pressure of transition to transform [us] (Cowell)” and grow us into better, more mature, and stronger people. Likewise, connections that remain can still bring us joy and growth as well, as long as we are willing to to work on them to keep them alive.

Not all connections last, not all friendships are immortal. And that is okay. We can remember the good, process and file away the bad, and move on, acknowledging the part those connections played in helping us become who we are.

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