Letting A Friendship Go


Recently I had the experience of release from a friendship. I reached out to a woman I hadn’t been in touch with for months, expressing my desire to reconnect and catch up. My request, however, was politely yet firmly declined. Initially, as you might imagine, I was stunned and hurt. But upon taking a few days to reflect on this whole experience, I’ve discovered some real treasures in the uncomfortable experience of rejection.

Treasure #1: I got to watch my ego rear its indignant head

First off, the main thrust of the decline was around said friend feeling neglected. She shared that she had felt like a low priority in my world and had shifted friendships around to ensure that wasn’t the case anymore.

In the initial moments of receiving this message, I was able to experience my ego’s sharp desire to take control. I was bothered and upset. I wanted to tell her that I’m pregnant and have barely seen anyone for months because I’ve been sick (something she has no idea about). I wanted to (in my best tantrum-ey voice) ask why she hadn’t made more of an effort to reach out to me across all this time. I wanted to call Taylor, or even my mom and be comforted by how “right” I felt and “wrong” I though she might be.

But using my best judgement and a few deep breaths, I recognized that these options served no purpose other than stoking the unhelpful righteousness of the ego. And in our exchange, she was clear in her final decision of ending our friendship. As I’ve always admired her strong sense of boundaries, I decided to respect them without protest or explanation, thus quelling the attention-seeking of my own self-importance.

Treasure #2: I saw and felt the fruits of my labors

Though saddened by this release which came up multiple times throughout the next day or two, its sting lessened considerably quickly. And now, I can think of this person and truly (and I really mean truly) wish her well.

This is not because I’m superhuman, or don’t feel the rawness of rejection from someone I admire. It’s because my daily practice consists of cultivating neutrality and grace in the midst of ups and downs. I do this through my meditation, my stubborn gratitude orientation, and certainly through my new consistency with cold showers (something I thanked myself for doing that very day).

That said, it was also somewhat refreshing to feel this conflict in an arena that I hadn’t in a while - friendship. It attuned me to a place of even more empathy for those navigating any and all feelings of being shunned - whether it be by a friend, oneself, a job prospect, or a romantic interest. It is challenging and complicated. And it’s also a part of life.

Treasure #3: I came back to my strengths

It was a great opportunity to remember a sentiment my teacher often expresses in times of issue with another human: “thank God there’s nothing wrong with me.” A certainly humorous but no less helpful commitment to the fact that, no matter what happens, if I continue to focus on my strengths over my weaknesses, I can dust myself off and easily keep going.

Don’t misunderstand me, In our exchange, this woman may be 100% in the right - I hadn’t been showing up as a good friend to her. Yet I know I do a lot of good for my family, my clients, and with the community I engage with through Wandering Wellness. I guided my mind to remember those facts and the goodness that is an ever-present top priority in my mission.

Treasure #4: I appreciated my friends even more

One of the biggest gifts of this whole experience is how it’s made me even more grateful for the strong friendships I do have. The women who will tell me when it’s time to get my butt off the meditation cushion and into a coffee shop for a date with them. (You know who you are and I love you dearly.) The friends with whom time and space do present quite a gap and yet we always somehow pick up where we left off - be it weeks or even months from our last conversation.

I don’t believe everyone is meant to be in our lives forever. I am very grateful for the time I spent in friendship with this particular person. But people come and go and that’s ok.

If we can somehow use these relationship experiences - even the ones without pretty bows of closure - as gifts of growth and opportunities for treasure mining, then we remain on a course of expansion and grace no matter what life throws our way.

I quite like that path, don’t you?

Here’s to hunting the treasures of all difficult situations. You’ve got this.

You can learn ore about my one-on-one consulting work (in person and digital) right here.

Joanna Andreae