I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic, I’ve been a fallen Catholic, I’m selectively Catholic, I’m a practicing Catholic. As Lent approached this year, the obligation of giving something up or doing something extra for forty days felt particularly necessary. I don’t know why. As a child, I gave up soda, candy, chocolate, pizza. Some years this was easy (we really didn’t eat pizza that much), some years it was plain old not fair (my birthday falls during Lent and what’s a kids’ birthday party without soda? PUHleeeeeze!). In adulthood, when I was in practice, I would always find truly difficult, usually food, items to forgo for the season. The “you’re going to hell” French fry event of 2007 was tough. This year that didn’t seem enough.
I needed to sacrifice something that would spur betterness in my existence. 2017 has brought everyone I know to some sort of negative state: Angst. Terror. Fear. Judgement. Depression. On a daily basis even the most positive among my comrades is struck by overwhelming negativity from outside sources. We can blame politics, we can blame technology. Ultimately, we can only blame ourselves. So…..
Two weeks ago I gave up my emotional hoarding of baggage from broken relationships. (Succinct sacrifice, huh?) I have committed to releasing ALL of those broken relationships: romantic partners, friends, former employers- all of them. You know I love to hoard. You know part of me loves my ghosts. You know I love dissecting and dwelling. I hope that the concerted effort to relinquish this baggage releases moments of envy. I admit it- ENVY. I hope it makes me focus on more gratitude and appreciation for my life and the current, wonderful relationships I have and are mutually cultivated. I hope it brings me to practice greater gratitude on a daily basis and release relationships that have run their course more easily. Joe is really good at this and I know I can be better. When I do it, I feel peaceful. THAT’S a positive goal.
In two weeks, I have failed twice. Last night, most notably. Being regularly indulgent in meanders down romantic relationship Memory Lane, it isn’t surprising that my first failure was Christopher related. I was travelling through the town where we met and- boom. There he was. I had just filled my Jeep with gas and was heading back home, he pulled out right in front of me. It happened super fast and for the next seven and a half miles, I found myself wishing we’d end up in the same place at the same time, sharing a laugh about coincidences. I willed him to call me, sharing a “blast from the past” Dan Fogelberg style. I hoped for a text if he got to his destination before I did mine, a friendly, “Was that you behind me?” inquiry. Lenten observance? EPIC FAIL. The rebound wasn’t terrible, though. I called Joe. We laughed at the small-townie-ness of it all, even several counties away. I sought solace and comfort in my spousal equivalent. The Christopher part of my life is encapsulated and done. This failure was a blip on that proverbial radar. I can repent and refocus.
Last night, however, it wasn’t an ex-boyfriend that plagued me; it was a series of lost friendships, all sparked by the memory of one great friend that I really miss. The gal-pal I started to mourn and try to release was a best-friend seven years ago. We started hanging out when her two kids were close in age to two of my three nibblings and we’d get together in child-friendly scenarios. When my nibblings got older and were with me less, we still got together. Seven years ago, we became a type of “mommy friend”, laughing, gossiping, and trading stories while digging for Goldfish crackers, juice cups, and baby-wipes. [Although she has recently pointed out to several mutual friends on several occasions that I am not a mommy and never was. Thanks for that, friend.] Our friendship seemed deeper than just “moms” on play-dates. [It seemed deeper than to offer such a snarky comment.] She used “BEST FRIEND” first. She talked smack about her other friends to me. She called me in the middle of the night when her husband didn’t come home after work, another time when her son spiked a fever and she needed someone to sit with her daughter. I called her to bring ice when I’d run out for girls’ night, when my nibblings’ mom died, needed chips for a play-date. Then she disappeared. She stopped calling, stopped texting, stopped interacting with me on social media. She’s still out there, in the universe. I see her interacting with others. I see her out places- both in-person and as she checks-in via Facebook. I see her fostering new relationships. I’m just not her friend. And it hurts. It feels like betrayal. I’m confident that now, I am the friend she’s talking smack about in another woman’s kitchen.
Last night I let the loss of her friendship consume me. By the time I got home from a meeting, I was flushed, angry, and on the verge of tears. (Note to self: don’t go to lengthy, boring township meetings where electronics are frowned-upon and you’re left to stew in your own pensiveness.) As I regaled Joe with my day, it became a steady stream of laments about other relationships that wore out. They had run their course, as nearly all do. Joe kept trying to get me to see the silver-lining. The first five attempts were not received well on my part, I admit. I couldn’t keep squelching his unsinkable hope, though, and relented. He’s right. Who needs them (her)? I have other people and places that require and appreciate my energy far more than a shattered faux-friendship of nearly-a-decade ago. To be fair to the “bestie” of days gone by, maybe we were actually best friends. For that moment in time. Maybe we served a specific purpose and quickly moved on, like a mushroom that pops out of a block in Mario Bros.
My self-check was the point of ENVY. Was there anything I envied? Do I envy her? Do I envy her new “friends?” Surprisingly, NO and NO. I’m sad, I’m hurt, but I don’t envy anyone because of this abandonment or betrayal or loss. I’m grateful for the time we had together, grateful for the experiences “our” kids shared, and hopeful that there wasn’t anything larger at play on her end of the feelings. I hope she’s not harboring some hurt, some injustice she’s endured at my hands, or anything like that. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
I also slept really well last night, thanks to the emotional fatigue that settled in around 11pm.
Fingers-crossed I don’t continue to fail in my Lenten observance an average of once a week. Who knew this would be more difficult that passing on the soda at my own 10th birthday party?