The Art of Losing People
I still remember the first time I entered an ‘official’ relationship.
The day another 6-year-old handed me the other half to her BFFs 4EVA necklace, I knew I had a friend for life. To me, that half of the necklace was a commitment more important than a wedding ring and I was proud to show off the colourful heart on my chest.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. A simple playground squabble the next day meant that I was demoted from Head BFF to just F. This sparked a chain reaction where our necklaces would switch necks with other girls every time we became the slightest bit annoyed at each other.
By the time I entered High School, those necklaces were long gone but the struggle to cultivate genuine friendships still lingered over my life. I became close to people who looked sparkly on the outside but whose values clashed painfully with mine, and I was forever nursing the wounds of a broken heart.
In college, I became fast friends with groups of people who I felt were ‘it,’ only to be left with the pieces of a fractured relationship after a misunderstanding. This repeated cycle of making friends and being abandoned caused me to endlessly doubt myself and my worth. I would stay up all night wondering what about me was so unlovable? What was it about me that made it easy for people to leave and not care? It felt like loss was more prevalent in my life than love ever was.
No matter how many people told me to move on and make new friends, I couldn’t help but believe the lie that I wasn’t worth staying for. Left unchecked and unrefuted, these thoughts and perceived abandonment was enough to drive me over the edge.
Whether it’s a friendship, a romantic partner, or a family member, you’re going to feel the sting when they leave. Losing people hurts so much because it’s a loss of the love and trust that you’ve poured into someone else. Suddenly, someone who once knew every inch of you is gone and you’re left with an agonisingly vacant space in your heart.
I want to pause and say that it’s a good thing that you let other people in. Someone, somewhere, is beating themselves up and calling themselves weak because they opened up their heart. But, it’s the vulnerable ones who are the strongest. It’s the people who dare to care, that open themselves up to a greater love. Letting people take up space in your heart will forever be the most courageous and graceful thing you can do.
The danger is when you rely too much on people to validate your worth. I used to entwine my self-worth around the hands of my friends and use them as a measuring stick for whether I was good enough. The number and type of friends I had by my side was my safety blanket and a confirmation that I was worth loving.
But the problem with putting your worth in other people’s hands is that they inevitably take it with them when they leave. All you’re left with is a damaged perception of how you see yourself and a belief that you’re worthless. In the aftermath of these broken friendships, I used to carry all the blame. Like boulders in a backpack, I would lug the shame around wherever I went and let it reduce me to a wisp.
Now I know that we were never meant to give away our power to other people to hold. We can love them, and we can open ourselves up to them, but we must never believe that our worth is found in the hands of others. Losing my friends gave me the strength to take back my worth and look to the God that loved me unconditionally. It taught me my value and that no matter how many friends I had, I’m so worth loving just as I am.
People will come and go from your life for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. All relationships involve the coming together of two flawed human beings with different interests, values and life journeys. New jobs carry loved ones to different cities. Others may be going through a season where they have to re-evaluate their values and their choices. As hard as it is, some people just aren’t good at prioritising certain relationships.
I’m now learning that every friend I have is a blessing, not an entitlement.
People aren’t possessions that we can hoard and keep in our treasure chest forever. They aren’t a measure of our worth or made to carry the burden of our expectations.
Now, when people leave, I let them go knowing that while they’ve been a blessing to my life, it’s now time for them to impact somebody else’s.
I heard someone say that the people in our Pilot episode may not always be there in our Season Finale. And I think that’s the most accurate metaphor for the people that come into our lives. You need only look at tv shows like Grey’s Anatomy to see that no matter how many characters leave, the show always goes on for dear Meredith Grey. Sometimes the loss of certain people opens up the space for others to come in and speak love and truth over your life. Not everyone will have the privilege of accompanying you on your journey, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of your story. Sometimes it signifies a new beginning.
So how do you master the art of losing people?
You let them go with a blessing that they were yours for a season, and not it’s their turn to bless somebody else.
You accept that people aren’t possessions for you to hoard, but beautiful souls with their own journey to embark on.
You see the loss as the creation of space for kinder, bolder people to come into your life.
You acknowledge that irrespective of who comes and who goes, you are good enough just as you are and you are worth staying for.
That’s how you create something beautiful.
That’s how you create a masterpiece.
- Why I’m ditching the life planDon’t get me wrong, if you have a carefully curated life plan that is working completely for you, then you’re kinda my hero. But for now, I think I’m going to try letting spontaneity take the wheel and see where it takes me.
- Mind Your BusinessWhat other people are doing should be of no concern to you. What he is doing with her is not a story-line you need to care about unless you’re invited to play a part in their drama.
- Mind Your Business Pt IIAs Girlboss Rachel Hollis says: “It’s none of your business what other people think about you.”
Wow. I’m nearly crying oh my goodness. Being a very social and extroverted person, I’ve never had much trouble meeting loads of new people which has always resulted in me ‘having a lot of friends’, but never really on any deep kind of level because, like you said, their values always clashed with mine and I never felt connected to them in the way I now know that true friendship requires. Being home educated, I always used to look at people at school who were supposedly surrounded by good friends with envy, like they had something I didn’t and it was easy for them to form those connections. After various conversations, I realised that that wasn’t the truth and that many of those friendships were no more genuine than what I was experiencing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been incredibly lucky to find people who care about the same things I do, we’re different but we have something that connects us. I still know a lot of people, but I now have a relatively small group of close friends who I love and trust entirely. I’ve also found that getting out there and standing up for what you believe in, showing the world who you, really helps you meet like minded people. I’ve definitely learnt along the way that sometimes people stay in your life and sometimes they don’t and that’s okay.
Recently someone I cared about, someone who promised me they’d never leave me, did just that….left me, without a word and I was left wondering what had happened. I still don’t know.
I’m having to learn that sometimes people leave and sometimes it’s for the best, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. If things mean a lot to you then fight and hold on, but sometimes we equally have to let go.
Thank you for this post and sorry for rambling <3
Hi Gracie, thanks for sharing your heart and your words with me. I’m so honoured. I only know you through the screen, but I can tell you’re an incredibly strong person who feels so much and cares really deeply. The people in your life are lucky to have you in their world, and I hope you always remember that no matter how many people choose to ‘leave.’ A x
Thank you so much, Ash, and same to you ❤❤
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