These are strange times indeed. The coronavirus is bringing up a lot of fear for people, hopefully to process and come out the other side of. In amongst all these mixed up emotions then other things are comign up for air that have been hidden, perhaps for years or decades. This is a time for great unravelling. Perhaps it is compounded for me because I am in that age, the midlife crisis, where the universe seeks to guide you to pull apart all that you have known to be true and examine and test it to see if it holds water or not.

I have been fortunate enough to be in a situation where I am working through this pandemic, keeping occupied and busy, not getting too bogged down by the fear of contagion as it has been a day-to-day existence in my line of work for longer than the government appeared concerned about it. I had been merrily compartmentalising any issues I had come up, putting them to one side to ‘deal with later’ as I kept ‘feeling useful’ and ‘keeping busy’ with work. And… then I got a cold so bad that it forced me to rest for over a week. Slow down, my body was crying out. Just stop doing. Rest. Recuperate. Process.

And in doing so, unable to take the medication that usually keeps my brain from overthinking too heavily, I stumbled across a blog post from a friend who moved away, and it unearthed a whole bunch of emotional gunk to examine.

I met this friend shortly before I moved to a village, by sheer chance for some reason I had to take my daughter to a different play session and she and her daughter were there. It turned out, she lived in the same village, and our daughters were of a similar age. When I moved there I reflected her hermitlike state and we didn’t connect readily at first, but gradually our friendship blossomed and as the girls got older they inspired one another. We would hang out and it would not be unheard of that my husband would get home from work, find out I was still over there, and cycle over with some beers and we’d pootle home much later of an evening.

I can’t remember at what point she mentioned that they were thinking of moving, but I remember it hitting me like a brick. I felt this urge to cease contact immediately; I experienced this before when neighbours mentioned they were moving then the shutters instantly came down and I stopped talking to them months before they finally moved out. But, our friendship was so great and there was huge uncertainty about when the house would get sold, it felt like it might never happen, so I persevered and it felt ok. We helped them pack, spent their last days with us. We stayed in touch on social media, the interactions felt like they were keeping the friendship alive. We saw each other a couple of times when she visited, and 3 years ago the whole family came down and getting the girls back together again it was as if no time had passed, they got on wonderfully. And then she decided to stop using facebook, and as is the way with my brain, she then drifted out of my life.

And to read her words again it felt like time hadn’t passed, that if we saw each other again it would be just as it always had been, but yet there was sadness that she wasn’t a part of things any more. Yet also, I walked out of so many friendships when I moved here because I did not have the capacity to maintain them, what is it about this one that saddened me so much? Is it simply because I was not the one in control of it changing, that I was not ready for it to end the way it did? One could argue that I was and still am fully in control of rekindling that friendship, if I put the energy into it. And perhaps I will.

However, the pain that came up surrounding reading her words on that blog post a few weeks ago was showing me something more. It was showing me the reasons for me having this object impermanence issue surrounding people. The pain of continuing to care for those no longer in my life is too great for me to handle, and my closest friends kept moving away when I was a child. I developed this coping mechanism to protect myself. If I pushed them away before they left, the final memories of the friendship weren’t a deep one, and I wouldn’t hurt so much.

And on relationships as an adult. People only leave my life abruptly if we’ve had a blazing row. Mostly, people gradually fade as their need for me or my need for them dissipates. It is a kind and gentle way to make way for new friendships to emerge.

But, what happens if I am asked to end a friendship to protect my partner’s emotions? Same pain, it seems. I don’t know how long it will take for the pain to go away. All this emotional stuff coming up. I think it’s linked to this recent friendship ending, when neither of us were ready for it to fade. I don’t know how to handle this next bit.

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