Relationships Change, and That’s OK

I was reminded of this last week, and this month’s Carnival Against Child Abuse focus on relationships had me thinking even more about it. I think, as survivors, we have a tendency to want to hold on to the people we consider friends, for fear that we’ll be abandoned yet again, or be alone, etc.

It’s a fear most people have, but it seems particularly acute among the survivors I’ve known in my life. On the other hand, as I’ve gotten older, I also realize that it’s somewhat ridiculous. People change, and not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime. Sure, there are some that do, and if you happen to have a friend that remains close to you for years and years, you should cherish that. But most of them will come and go, swept in by the coincidence of time, place and interest, and swept out as any of those things change.

As I said, I was reminded of this last week, when an old friend of mine was in town and, with the help of his brother who lives here, managed to organize a sort of reunion of folks. Many in the group had graduated High School within a few years of each other, and in most cases, many were people I hadn’t really seen in years. It was great to see them, swap old stories, and get caught up on each others current lives. Then, after a few hours, I also remembered why it is that I don’t see these people more often. It’s not because of anything negative. They don’t annoy me, nor do I find them offensive in some way. I don’t at all, though I imagine there are some old acquaintances where that might be true. ;-)

No, these are perfectly good people, who don’t really have any common interests or day to day shared experiences with me any more. Yes, it was great to see them, and perhaps through the use of Facebook or other online communication tools we’ll do a better job of staying in touch, but we’ve all just sort of moved on with our lives. Some have physically moved away, some have focused their energy on raising their kids, others on being involved with a church, or their career, etc. For everyone in that room, I’m betting there’s a different reason why they’ve drifted away from many of the other folks who were there. It happens, and it’s not a bad thing. We make connections and form relationships with people as we go through our experiences with them. Sometimes, in order to go through life’s experiences, and share them with a new group of people who are going through them with us, we have to leave behind the people who aren’t sharing them with us. For example, couples who are raising their kids, gravitate toward other parents. They need to form relationships and support systems with the people who are sharing this experience with them. I’m not a parent. I’m not living the same lifestyle as someone who is. That doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with anyone who has children, but it’s one area of life where I can’t really relate. Some of the people I know, are going to leave me behind as they seek out relationships with other parents. Similarly, as I continue my work supporting abuse survivors, or building my career, I’m connecting with people who are doing the same things. Naturally, that means that I’m going to drift away from some friends who are not moving in that same direction.

It doesn’t mean I don’t like them, or I am somehow abandoning them. It simply means that my energy is being used elsewhere at this time. All relationships require work, and we don’t have an unlimited supply of energy to put into that work. We have to pick and choose where we will invest our energy, and since life is full of change, the people we will share it with on a regular basis will change right along with it. Some relationships will go on and on, others will come and go. It’s all part of living life.