Living in the Space Between Missing a Person and Missing the Memories

If you have ever had friends in your life, then you are surely no stranger to the eventual breakdown of some of those relationships. It’s a sad time. A person you may once have told everything to and knew everything about slowly dissolved into a faded memory in the back of your mind. It’s extremely difficult to let go of friendships that once dominated your everyday schedule.

Reminiscing is normal. Everyone does it from time to time. When you’ve gone through a ‘friend breakup’ of sorts, that nostalgia can hit you right in the feels in the same ways that thinking of your ex-partner would. You begin to wonder why things had to end the way they did. Did you do something wrong? Why weren’t you good enough for them? Why weren’t they good enough for you? It’s a vicious cycle that could go on eternally.

During these times, many of us may have the urges to reach out to our former ‘BFF’ for comfort. Perhaps it is to share a memory or to see how they’re doing, but it is always a hard step to take. While for some this is an approach that helps them heal from the deep emotional wounds of losing a friend, for others, it can mean facing the reality of that severed relationship.

Maybe the person you reach out to didn’t react in the way you wanted, or maybe they didn’t respond at all. If the reaching out doesn’t turn out how you might have hoped it can be a nosedive back into the pain of losing that person in the first place. But I’m here to suggest that it isn’t always the person we need to deal with these wounds, but rather the memories themselves.

I think it’s reasonable to lock away any good times you’ve had with someone who you have had a falling out with. It’s hard to look back on a time you used to discuss during late night car rides, or on a moment that solidified your closeness as friends. We tend to focus on the negatives of this ex-friend. The time they borrowed something but didn’t return it, or when they didn’t pay you back, or maybe when you heard them gossip about you. Those thoughts cloud the reality of what the friendship was and cause the good memories to get shoved further back in your memory bank.

It’s okay to accept that this person isn’t in your life anymore. It’s also okay if they don’t want to bring you back into their life, or you don’t want to go back into theirs given the invitation. Use these good memories as a healing process for moving forward in becoming an insightful friend to new ones. Think about that time you went to the movies together and ran into one of your former teachers. Laugh when you go to the coffee shop you used to frequent and smile when you order the same cookie you used to split.

The person you knew still exists in your memories. The person you were still exists there too. They don’t have to be forgotten because they’ve shaped who you are now. Reminiscing on your best times will help you work through the rough times ahead regardless of who is in the memories. Treat these friends as a task completed in your lifelong to-do list, and contain the memories in your heart to heal in times when you need it the most. You never know what the future will bring, but your memories can certainly help inform your inevitable actions.