In honor of the only CD we had in the car this weekend, which we did NOT listen to! One of my favorite Beatles songs.
I like to think of myself as someone who isn’t bound by worldly possessions. I think most people I associate with do.
We often fail to realize that money is only a big deal when you don’t have it, and I tend not to acknowledge that am pretty well set, even if I do drive Lincoln’s ugliest car. It’s pretty telling when I get emotional thinking about the day I will probably send Arnold to the scrap yard, and watch him be smashed into a little metal box. (This movie still haunts me from my childhood of what happens. I just watched it and it still made me cry – Brave Little Toaster.) It’s a realization that I am still bound to the things I own, and I’m not as much of a free spirit as I’d like to think.
These things we have ownership of are tools that we often use to define ourselves as people. I have a house which makes me feel like a responsible adult, a beater car which reminds me that I’m thrifty, old TVs to identify as someone who likes to stay active, a cat because I am a loving and caring person.
I went camping this weekend in the area that is currently being threatened by wildfires. It was hard for us to stray too far from our campsite, because if we were evacuated and not close to our tent, our possessions would probably be lost in the fire. For me, the cost to replace my things would be minimal, but the act of knowing they would never get them back is somewhat distressful. Those are MY things, and I don’t want to get rid of them until I’m ready.
However, it would have to be a very good argument for someone to convince me that the most valuable things people take ownership of are not our relationships with other people.
I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple months about how losing people affects the way someone identifies them self. People can be removed from lives through intentional means, through accident, or just by efforts running thin.
My first instinct is to say that losing the person in which you are romantically committed has to be the toughest type of loss a person can suffer. This is a person that you have sought out and made the choice to include into your personal life. A person you hope to commit to keeping until you die. You blend so much of yourselves, that you do start to change who you are. Not in a bad way, but you take on new interests, expand your movie tastes, get accustomed to family traditions and interactions that are foreign to you.
Society tells us that this person is your other half, therefor, losing them is like losing a part of yourself. Maybe some of the things you learned stay with you, more often than not, you revert back to enjoying only the things you brought to the table in the first place.
Family loss has to be immediately behind romantic relationships, if not in front. Often we grow distant from family and fail to include them in our day-to-day lives, but know they will be there to catch us when there is no one else, and will be in our lives until we die. Sometimes they are taken away sooner than we had hoped. I have never had to experience this type of devastation, but know from others that it is one of the most difficult and life-altering experiences. A friend of mine’s dad recently died. As I was talking it over with my mom, she gave me feedback from what she experienced when she lost her mom in college: She will be sad. You might be out somewhere and she will just start crying. It will always be in the back of her mind, and probably at the front of her mind for years.
People who lose close family to death tend to not talk about it. Another friend lost their brother. Once their sorority knew, she was defined as the girl whose brother died and was noticeably treated differently. My friend previously mentioned shared a similar experience.
This weekend I had an enlightening conversation with a friend, as we spent 12 hours driving through Nebraska together. Friendships are the most overlooked relationships, given the least amount of work, but often regarded as the most defining of a person. I realized that over the last couple years, I had lost her. It’s hard for me to settle on this, as I identify myself as someone who is loyal to the people I care about.
There is never a point where we are forced to examine our friendships and pick out the things that we don’t like. In romantic relationships, there is the obvious point in time where the couple must choose to commit or move on. For families, most holidays and life milestones bring any outstanding issues to the surface.
Friendships don’t have a “come-to-Jesus” moment. Maybe in those life milestones, friends endure or are lost, but are rarely openly evaluated.
Three years ago, this friend and I went on an overseas trip. We were both looking forward to it being a bonding experience. However, for me, it put an incredible strain on our friendship. The timing between things in her life, and my ability to manage everything going on in my life was disastrous. I think I was aware at that we were losing each other, but convinced myself it was a continuation of my sporadic relationship with friends; I can go months without talking to them, but remain close.
We kept in touch the following years, mostly just enjoying large group outings together and a lunch here and there to catch up on life.
Talking through specifics this weekend helped us vocalize the frustrations of our friendship after that trip, the anxiety of talking bringing up those frustrations, and the reality of the condition of our friendship now. Not only this, but we both were exposed to the shortcomings we have in other relationships, and how they are played out in our friendships.
I know I struggle with communicating and even expressing my feelings of anger and frustration. But I’ve never had to realize the impact it has on other people I’m not close to. My past romantic relationships became accustomed to the minimal signs and body language I would exhibit. For someone who doesn’t have that high level of experience with me, she was completely kept in the dark and had no idea what was happening in my mind.
I failed. I failed to communicate with her during, and up until this point. We have a game plan now, not only to maintain our friendship, but to understand that we can help each other improve ourselves.
That’s what friendships should be – an open and honest relationship that helps you improve yourself as a person.