There’s such an intense focus in our culture to find something great, something that makes us whole, and hold onto it for the rest of our lives. You have to find the perfect man, get married and have that last perfectly for a lifetime. Or find the perfect group of friends and then grow old with them. But none of that mentality is healthy for us.
I fixated so much on that mentality growing up. I had this core group of friends and I was obsessed with the notion of us being friends forever and being everything for one another. I remember my closest friend once saying “I don’t even know how to define myself without you,” and at the time I thought that that was an amazing, beautiful concept. Eventually we all grew up. Some of us got boyfriends, some left for university, etc. etc. and I just couldn’t handle it. I could not handle the change of losing them to their new lives. I did a lot of irreparable damage to one friendship in particular. I felt so hurt that she would abandon me – that she would suddenly make her boyfriend more important than her friends. I thought she was selfish.
I realize now how ludicrous that all sounds. It took me a long time and the help of a good counselor to understand that the problem wasn’t everyone moving on with their lives, it was my mindset. Eventually I was able to internalize the fact that putting so much weight in relationships isn’t healthy. Nobody should “be your other half” or “make you feel complete.” I know that sounds lovely and romantic and that some people may not agree with me saying that it’s not the way to go about things, but truthfully, you have to be complete in yourself.
What’s more, you have to let yourself grow and evolve – to let friendships come and go. If you can do that, then it allows life to happen around you. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy it all, rather than trying to control it. In all honesty, everything around you will change. It’s the nature of the beast. If you can find a way to accept that and to roll with the punches, then life is going to be a lot less of a struggle. Letting the current take you is a heck of a lot nicer than trying to swim upstream.
I still have to continually remind myself to stop thinking that a relationship is about completing one another. It’s not like I’m fixed now. It’s a constant battle both because I grew up thinking it and because, like I said, it’s such a pervasive part of our culture (it’s pretty much written into every Rom Com you’ll ever read or watch). Getting out of that head space isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s something that you work towards for a lifetime. I don’t think anyone is born with the confidence to feel like they are complete in themselves, but it should certainly be something that every person strives for.
A few years ago a friend sent me this article – Letting Go of Attachment, From A to Zen – and I remember feeling so much clarity when I read it. For anyone that feels like they struggle with change, attachments or relationships, I really recommend giving it a read.