Image by Kordi Vahl

The last few years have been hard on everyone. I don’t need to tell you that, you already know. This blog post isn’t about what you’re probably expecting it to be about though… Today I want to write about a different kind of loss: the loss of friendship and connections you otherwise thought you’d have forever.

I’m one of those people who makes friends/aquaintances and assumes they are all going to last. I’ve been spoiled rotten by having the same Best Friend Forever for my entire life (30+ years). We have grown up together, grown together, and continue to evolve together. We are both aware of how fortunate we are for our relationship, and just how much work goes into maintaining a lifelong (borderline co-dependant) best friendship.

But the downside to having such a stable constant in my life, is that I forget not everyone else will be like her. I have made a lot of friends since childhood, and quite a few of them I’m still friends with. People I met online in the halcyon days of internet message boards. People I met in ninth grade who I got into punk rock music with. People I met in my second high school when we would smoke pot in the nearby forest during lunch. My lab partner from tenth grade who was initially afraid of me because I had green hair and a resting bitch face. Fellow ravers I made candy bracelets with and dressed up with and had wild nights with. As an adult it was often people I worked with, or for, who I developed a strong bond with, keeping in touch even when I moved nine hours away. Another treasured friend I met because our eyes met through a crowded dance floor and we realized we were the only people in the club with paper hand fans we were flapping near our faces.

Sometimes the worst losses are subjectively little things when compared to the loss of life, which is inarguably a Big Thing.

Big Things (losing a loved one/the end of a romantic relationship) are universally accepted to be a Big Deal. We are given space and permission to grieve the losses. You’re expected to feel those absences on a deep, visceral level. Some people never get over a loss, and it becomes what defines them in their lives.

There’s an entire title for people who’ve lost their spouses (widow/widower) and for children who have lost their parents (orphans). When someone close to you dies, you are allowed, nay expected, to treat it like a Big Deal, and all the parts of grieving that entails.

There’s also titles for people who have experienced the devastating fracture of a significant romantic relationship (divorcee), as this is recognized as a really Big Deal too. Some people never get over a divorce, and it can have a ripple-effect on the others in their lives (especially children).

But when you lose someone (or something) which still exists in the world, you’re often not given the same grace. It is deemed a Small Thing. Unimportant, especially compared to other Big Things.

Big Things and Small Things don’t need to be compared. Often this just leads to a diminishment of the loss because it’s incomparable to death, or divorce.

Image by Sasint

Small Things matter too.

So many people have lost loved ones, stability, health, income and countless other parts of life that we can sometimes take for granted. People and animals we loved and treasured could be gone in an instant, and we are left grieving in the wake of those losses.

But I find lately that I feel more acutely the loss of friends…of habits…of little things I used to enjoy that I’ll never get to enjoy again. I miss the joy of seeing my kids playing with friends I thought they’d made for life. I miss the look a loved one gave me when they cherished my presence. I miss easy laughter between people I spent my time with, the cheer of a group who welcomed me at parties or events. I miss the excitement of planning and crafting with someone I’d known for years, making costumes and projects together well into the night. I miss coordinated Halloween costumes. I miss my spot on the couch (that big, comfy, messy couch where we watched TV shows for days, and laughed at each other for hours). I miss my place in the world, however fleeting it was.

Now my heart aches when I think about those things that used to bring me such joy. I am left soul-searching, trying to figure out if those things were ever really real, or if I just thought they were. If those friendships ever existed in the real world, because they were based on mutual love and appreciation, or if they only existed at all because I spent so long investing into them by myself–making plans, driving to see them, checking on them, writing to them, loving them unconditionally to the point it blinded me from the truth.

They say that if you love something you should let it go, and if it comes back to you then it was meant to be. But I’ve loved so many people who I thought were meant to stay forever, only to discover they let themselves go from my life as soon as I wasn’t convenient to them. Ours was a friendship (or a relationship) of convenience, not of love. And my heart breaks, every day, just a bit.

Image by RealWorkHard

Death by a thousand cuts…

I used to think I was difficult to love. That’s what people told me. That’s what I was taught, from a young age. I, Em Van Moore, am a lot. I’m too much.

And now, as an adult I have had to reevaluate everything about myself and everything about my past, to recognize painful patterns and cycles I became trapped in. Truth be told, I willingly trapped myself in some of them. I thought that my connections with people were real, and I was truly seen for who I was. I thought I was loved. So I overlooked things. I tried really, really hard. I made myself easy to be friends with, or to be in a relationship with. I’d go to them, I’d check on them, I’d be so agreeable that I sacrificed things I liked or wanted to do, just because I didn’t want to be ‘too much’ anymore.

But I couldn’t ever really change who I was. I was silly, and impulsive, and I said things in ways that people took wrong, but I meant them sincerely, or worse: I meant them in jest. I thought my humor was universal, and others understood I was teasing them.

And I thought that if I was just agreeable enough, if I just put in the work to be easy to love, that it would make up for who I really was. That silly, impulsive person who said things that were meant to be funny, or cute, or clever, and came out wrong; all wrong.

Recently I’ve had to rectify who I thought I was, who I was being perceived as, and who I really am. When I look back on it I have to accept those losses in my life, accept the missing parts of my soul where a friendship used to be, or accept the lonely Saturday nights where my social life used to be, because I’m not sure if they were ever really based in reality. They were certainly based in MY reality. I have the unfortunate ability to love people whole-heartedly and unconditionally, and that means each loss (real or otherwise) feels deep and painful. But the reality is that those people and times in my life were lost before I ever thought they’d been found. They were never really mine, they were just illusions, or worse: manipulations.

Image by Kanenori

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying I am grieving.

I’m grieving the person I could have been; the friendships I should have had; the lovers we aren’t any more; the life I once lived; the hope I used to have.

Through everything in my life I maintained that hope that things would be okay. That despite everything I was loved and cherished and special in my own, small, unimportant way. And now I have to learn to be myself, but with the knowledge that it’s possible only one or two people in the whole wide world might really understand me, really know me, really love me.

The loss of the other people feels like a crushing weight on my heart, and it struggles to keep beating every day. But at least it’s still beating, and I guess I’m thankful for that.

Image by Dimitri Vetsikas


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