The True Meaning Of Forever
Years ago, as I sat next to my newest 'best friend', we started the inevitable conversation about the past. At that point I only had lost one friend — one that left me forever on Halloween evening, sobbing, devastated and broken. Later that year all those I considered my best friends would no longer be so. “I can't believe it,” I said, tears forming as I clung closer to that new friend, naively convinced that her warmth and sympathy would heal the damage done by the last. As if by survival instinct, we tend to categorise past friendships and relationships as mistakes, passionate flaws, and delusions. And when an ex-friend or lover comes into conversation, supportive friends are wired to respond with: “Screw them. They weren't worth it.” As if negativity erases the pain. I know I'm not alone in this.
Memories are not stagnant. They ebb and morph depending on what you choose to focus on. And if your someone's flaws are your focus, then that will become your memory of them. After all, it’s the stories that we tell ourselves that shape our past. But the truth is, at one point in time I was in love with these people. The ones I called my best friends. You know, the type of euphoric, naïve bliss that was weekend shopping outings or sleepovers, giggling to High School Musical recordings while gossiping wildly. The type where you can spend all day doing absolutely nothing but feel so incredibly present and alive. When something as simple as a picnic in your backyard becomes the most vivid memory of your life. You remember everything — from the exact hue of the sky that day down to the taste and texture of the food and the people you were surrounded by when you felt so incredibly happy.
You see, I loved these people for their soul, their kindness, their quirks, their heart. And I know that they, at one point, loved me for the same. When things fell apart, my journal was taken over with violent, angry scribbles. Because nothing hurts your pride more than a broken relationship that you worked hard on, and a broken heart is an agony that throws you into an unusual, almost spiritual, hysteria. Extreme conclusions were formed in a desperate attempt to regain control of my life. I started hating them, wishing them the worst, hoping that they would realise their lesson in some cruel karma-driven way. I shielded myself in a bitter angry sheet of resentment. Focusing on the negatives was a coping mechanism because it’s easier to deal with than the truth. And the truth is this: things just didn’t work out. It is what it is.
But these days, long after the dust has settled, I find myself still enjoying the bands that old friends introduced me too. I’ve noticed I’ve picked up some of the habits and interests and tendencies of them too, little remnants of people I once thought the world of — habits that have been etched into my own identity. These people are a part of who I am, even though I no longer have a desire to reconnect with them, even though I no longer share with them any part of my life. And I love them. That emotional attachment though, which is necessary for any healthy relationship, is no longer there. I no longer would want to spend all evening talking with them, or care to hear about their day-to-day life. I would never drive hours to see them and when I think about it, I don’t have anything to say to them anymore. Time did that trick. And for those who are still in the throes of a painful breakup, rest assured that time’s medicinal effects will eventually kick in. It always does. Humans, after all, are hardwired to overcome heartbreak.
I love them for who they were, in the time that they were in my life. I love them in the sense that I’m extremely thankful for all the beauty that I experienced between us. And all the things I loved about them? Their heart, their soul? That all still holds true. These are brilliant people with vibrant souls. But of course, as life teaches us, sometimes love is just not enough. Situations, timing, place, and priorities are all important factors. Sometimes love isn’t strong enough, sometimes it’s unequal. Sometimes it creates resentments that are permanent and sometimes trust and passion is eroded so slowly by simple neglect that you don’t notice until it’s too late, until you both come to the acute conclusion that you cannot coexist in the same world without devastating each other and so you part permanently and painfully. And all the negatives? The hurtful things that were said and done by both parties? Well, I forgive them, and more importantly, I forgive myself. They say love is an action and my action is this: respecting the past. I’m making a conscious effort not to bash these old friends, and I’m altering our stories to one that isn’t steeped in resentment. They weren't horrible, they weren't insane. They weren't severely selfish, They weren't always cold. They were human, as am I, and we realised that we just don’t work well together.
So to my past friends, I wish you the best. Cheers to happiness and joy and for both of us, to one day finding a great, fiery friendship that works, although I'm writing this because I know I've already found that, and only now can I realise that I would never have met the beautiful people in my life right now, probably, if we were still friends. Thanks, I guess. You are the true meaning of forever for me. Yes, we don't speak anymore. Yes, I hear anything I know about you from people who are closer to you now than I am. Yes, we're not friends anymore. But once upon a time, when we would link pinkies and whisper 'best friends forever' we linked our lives in an unspoken way. Forever is when you cross my mind because every so often something still reminds me of you. Forever is your birthday still being the first thing I think of that day. Forever is all the places we went and the things we said. Forever is everything we ever were together, to each other.