I don’t let other people in very easily. It takes a long time or extraordinary circumstances for me to open my self to others. I have never been the kind of person who has many friends at any given time, but the ones I do have I hold fiercely to my heart. I have been so blessed to have so many good people come into my life over the years.
I had a difficult mother. She chose to dictate who could and couldn’t be my friend all throughout my growing up years. She arbitrarily decided to end my connection to others based on some unwritten and unexplained code that had, occasionally, devastating effect on me.
She forbid a friend who lived across the street from me from ever setting foot in our house again after a supposed accident in the house (a typewriter and a small wheeled table it was on fell over). Coincidentally, this was also the day our family dog nipped my friend from behind when we were outside swinging on my swing set.
I was with my friend all that fateful day and we never even went in the room where the typewriter was. I suspected even then it was probably my friend’s mother’s response to the dog bite that pissed my mother off. The consequence for me, however, was that two other families on the street refused to speak to me and I was no longer welcome among the tribe of children who had been my companions.
“You can’t just come over here and play if we’re not welcome at your house anymore,” my friend’s sibling announced when I rang her doorbell shortly after my mother’s edict. She shut the door in my face.
It was only after I got older that I tried to defy these edicts and remain friends with whomever my mother was on the warpath against, (and there was always someone), especially boyfriends. I think her iron will to break a bond actually bound me that much more strongly to my friends…a couple of whom I look back now and think it really might have been to my benefit to let go.
I tell you this to paint a background of possibility as to why friendship is sometimes a difficult and risky business for me. I have to remind myself that there is no one standing over me waiting to slash the bonds I have with another, now that my mother is dead and my ex-husband lives his own life, except me. Not every friendship is meant to last forever. We evolve over time, and sometimes the ties that bind simply unravel or become less important, so we move on. Still, it is never easy to watch that happen, especially when the bond is strong.
Now I am facing a giant change. A friend and a mentor is moving away. She came into my life as a spiritual guide when my life felt chaotic and desperate, shortly after my divorce. She was reliable and supportive and kind. She was trustworthy and had good boundaries. Gradually we became friends. The wary inner child allowed the adult to bond.
And now, as happens so often in our transient society, my friend and her husband are returning home. She knew when they moved here they wouldn’t stay forever. Colorado, a land of cold and snow and mountains, is nothing like sunny California. They went back to find where they might want to live earlier this summer. They found a city. Their home here sold almost immediately. Their realtor found something there instantly, too. Their moving date looms only a couple of weeks away.
I am so happy for her. I know it is a great step into another life. I thought it really was okay until I got an email inviting me to a “say goodbye” party. Goodbye is a word I hate. I haven’t wanted to face that part at all.
“You know you need to find another mentor, Chris,” she’s said a few times now. “Have you asked someone yet?”
No, I haven’t. I’ve thought of a couple of people I might ask, but they aren’t my friend. There is no one to fill her shoes. It’s not like I can’t call or write or keep in contact with her, but the relationship will be different. It might even end. It’s that part I don’t want to think about.
There is both blessing and irony in my work with her. She helped me develop a closer relationship with a Higher Power, whom I choose to call God. My life has been immeasurably enriched through prayer and meditation. I have learned I can turn to my Higher Power with any problem. In order to do that, however, I have to let go. I can tell God my troubles, but then I have to leave it in His hands. It’s not that I don’t eventually get answers, I do. I just don’t always like the answers.
“Whenever there is change in your life, Chris, you are being prepared for something new to come in,” my friend said a few days ago. Yes, I know. I’ve lived long enough to realize that sometimes the “something new” that comes in is quite wonderful.
In the meantime, though, there is that gap. I must say “Goodbye.” Sometimes all I see is the loss.
I would not have been a very good student or a friend for that matter, if that was all I focus on now. She helped me let go of the walls I had pulled tight around me after the pain of divorce. She helped me open my heart again and to “clean out the pipe” that is my connection to my Higher Power. “That’s our job, you know,” she’s said a hundred times. And I have cleaned out that pipe. Just sometimes I’m tempted to stuff it back up.
So my prayer for her is that her dreams for her new life all come true. That she find meaning and friendship in her new hometown, and her transition be filled with ease and Grace. I especially hope she knows what a gift she has been in my life. This is the part I have to leave to my Higher Power. I have to trust that all will be well for both of us.
I have to “Let Go and Let God.”