I've been putting this off for a few months now. I keep writing this and then deleting it and then writing it again and then saving it and then coming up with lines in that dim haze just before falling asleep so that I can forget them when I wake up the next day. This is one of those posts that will not make things better when I write it all out. On the contrary, it'll probably make things worse by concretizing something very painful. Probably why I have broken my own "writing is therapeutic purging" rule in this particular regard.
Now that the explanation is done, let me get straight to Part 1.
Long distance relationships are very difficult.
Now the thing is, whenever anyone hears the words "long distance relationship," the mind immediately jumps to the romantic relationship. And images of late-night conversations, phone bills and constant angst. More often than not, all of those associations are true and justified. But what people seem to forget is that friendships between people in different places are also long distance relationships. So if you live in one city and your best friend lives in another, that is also a long distance relationship. The reason I bring this up and explain it is because long distance friendships, LDFs, are sometimes much more difficult than the long distance romances, LDRs.
When people are not in physical proximity to each other, the principle of "out of sight, out of mind" immediately comes into play. Now with LDRs, people make more of an effort to reduce that by making it a point to talk regardless of work and fatigue because there is love, lust and desire at play. There is a certain selfishness that makes it difficult to take the LDR for granted because the factors at play differ from those of the LDF.
Things change when it comes to friends. Since you were so close or since you believe you know each other so well that the friend will understand, it becomes that much easier to take the LDF for granted. It becomes easy to take the person himself/herself for granted because "hey, you know what I'm like na. I suck at keeping in touch and I've been so busy and so much has been happening and I know you understand." And the ironic truth is that the friendship itself hinges on that very understanding of each other.
The essential difference is that because it's easier to take each other for granted, the parties in an LDF have to make that much more effort to stay in each other's lives. Like with LDRs where people do cheesy things they otherwise would laugh at and arrange date nights every week or call as often as possible and constantly text, LDFs also need friend chat nights, long rambling mails, more WhatsApp and more SMSes if WhatsApp isn't an option.
Now for Part 2 of this letter/ramble/post.
It is much more difficult to get over a friendship than a romance.
In a romance, when the two people decide they can't be together, they have "the talk". They talk about breaking up and the reasons why. Even if the breakup isn't mutual, the dreaded talk still happens. Where one person says "I can't do this anymore." There is a modicum of closure. You KNOW that the relationship is over and can begin the process of moving on.
But with a friendship, there is no talk. Because more often than not, you don't even realize that the relationship is over. There is no closure because the next time you two meet, you'll probably have an okay time but when you leave, it goes back to no calls, no conversations. One day you wake up and realize that the only updates you are getting are from Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. You see a 'Last seen at XX' on WhatsApp and realize that you have not had a conversation in a while. You think of the last time you spoke and you can't remember when it was and you see a huge black chasm of empty where your supposedly forever friendship was. And another thing, it's very possible that the second person realizes none of these things. Which is another reason why it's more difficult for one person to get over the failed relationship.
With the end of a romance, you turn to your friends for support.
With the end of a friendship, where do you go?
Now Part 3.
Why I have rambled so much.
Because I'm grieving. I woke up one day and realized that the "family" I chose for myself doesn't exist anymore. After growing up with barely any friends, when I found a set of people who understood and loved me, I decided I would never let go. And the thing is, I did try. But then, I realized that if people want you in their lives, they'll make just as much of an effort as you do to have you in their lives. That when I take a step forward, the other person must too. And to fall back on the age-old cliche, "You can't clap with one hand." That while you might want to hold on to someone, they have to want to be held on to.
It's because I realized that while I was expected to understand busy schedules and new boyfriends/girlfriends, new office friends, workplace shenanigans and gruelling college timetables, my one-time friends forgot that I have the same issues too. I work and have weird shifts. I also have office friends to maintain relationships with. I have my mom to make time for. I have a non-college group boyfriend. While I was expected to drop everything to maintain a friendship I believed important, the second party didn't care enough to do the same.
While I was expected to understand that X or Y or Z sucks at keeping in touch, X and Y and Z forgot that sometimes I prefer texting to talking on the phone. That I on principle will reply to any message I get, no matter how busy I am, to the extent that it borders on a compulsion.
Friendships survive when there are one-on-one conversations. While group conversations have their own unique charm, they are also safe because you don't have to make that much of an effort to understand one person. You can disappear in the five other chattering voices and speak up once in a while without it being a problem.
So the reason I have been putting this post off for so long and have ranted for so long, is because I am trying to heal. And the fact that writing this down is a symbolic gesture that means a lot.
I am trying to move on from the broken friendships that I can never get closure from. I am trying not to feel jealous when I see an update or picture on Facebook/Instagram, wondering how if there was time to post that update, there was no time to say hello. I am trying to be indifferent to those 'Last seen at XX' moments, wondering if that conversation could have been with me. I am trying to live without the pieces of myself I gave away in vain to people who I thought deserved them.
Which is why any breakup in this social media obsessed age is impossible. But then that's a topic for another day.
I am trying to work harder at saving the few LDFs that did survive and are surviving the distance. Because the fact that they lasted this long, means that maybe I wasn't completely idiotic with my choice of family.
This is an attempt at saying goodbye.
I know I will never completely move on. It's almost impossible to, as I just illustrated. But at least I can try letting go of the pain, hurt, bitterness and anger.
I suck at letting go. Because anyone who has followed this blog knows that I am hoarder who is terrified of forgetting.
But well, it's high time that I make self-preservation my overarching impulse.