August is a month of milestones for me. Some good. Some not so good. It was seven years ago, while coming home from my husband’s birthday dinner, I knew it would be the last one we would celebrate together. I had made the decision to come out, ask for a divorce, and live life true to who I was. I had lived in denial for far too long. Several days later, we got a call from my parents telling us my aunt had suffered a stroke and was in a coma. A week later, she died. Everything changed and none of us have been the same since that day.
As you can imagine, I tend to get a little introspective during this month. This year, I’ve found myself dealing with more than usual, thinking more than I like to, reacting to life in ways I thought I had left behind. I’ve watched as many of my friends struggle with life and relationship changes. It seems like the planets have aligned against humanity and the cosmos is having one big laugh at our expense. I’ve had moments where I wanted to scream. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve lost and regained hope on several occasions. But I’ve remained true to myself and I’m still standing.
Relationships, whether they are platonic or romantic, are not easy. I’ve had several friendships slowly fade away, friendships I thought would last for decades. Sometimes we just change. Sometimes we realize that the things we had in common have disappeared. It isn’t the fault of any one person. That’s just life. But it can be a little harder to accept if you have a somewhat fragile ego like mine. I always start to wonder what’s wrong with me that the people just stopped being in my life.
Romantic failure is even more difficult to swallow. Most of my life, I’ve been on the receiving end of “I really like you, but…” and I can tell you that it gets old after the second or third time. Sure, it turned out to be for the best, especially if you consider those were guys saying it to me and I’m, well, not into guys. But back then, when I was in denial, it stung. It’s never easy to hear, no matter what the circumstances are. My reaction often runs from hurt to shocked to angry to sad, sometimes in a span of 20 minutes. After that, I’m too tired to think so I just go to bed. And that’s when the processing starts. My id, ego, and superego get together and have a chat. By the time I wake up, I’m usually thinking a little more clearly and I can respond to life without all the raw emotions.
What’s my point? That relationships take courage and tenacity and hope and a willingness to get back up and try again when things don’t work out. They take communication and hard work and time when you feel they can work. We don’t go into relationships in the same place as the other person. We don’t go in with the same timelines. There is no set timeline for how you should feel when. You may have to redefine a relationship that isn’t working, no matter how long you’ve known the person. When the relationship becomes toxic, the best thing you can do for yourself is get out. It takes a lot of strength and courage to walk away from someone you care about. I’ve had to do it twice, once because it was best for both of us and once because it was best for me.
Sometimes the timing just isn’t right and you have to let that person go. Sometimes you have to give them space to figure out what they want. It doesn’t mean you can’t try again. It doesn’t mean you can’t maintain some sort of relationship. It just means that you have to be open to possibilities and be flexible. And sometimes, it just doesn’t work out and you have to move on with your life. You have to let go of the hurt and anger and the guilt. You have to create new hopes and dreams. You have to redefine your life.
You have to be brave.