When I was in elementary school I had a best friend – Rita. I remember how amazing it felt to spend time with her, how we understood each other without needing to speak at times, how she shared her food with me at school (something that I cannot do myself), how we saved up money to buy books and enjoyed sharing them with one another. I remember long playdates after school where we made plans for the future. We were looking forward to graduation which at that time was many years away. We made precise plans about our weddings and pregnancies and we vowed to be there no matter what. We were going to be old grandmas together and pretty much be inseparable our entire lives. Rita was my outlet, as I struggled to trust and relate to my parents in my childhood. If I close my eyes I still remember that amazing feeling of joy when we made future plans and spent time together. I still catch myself returning to that part of my childhood at times.
In 2002 my family immigrated to USA and our friendship with Rita took a wild turn as she stayed in Kyrgyzstan. During those times there was no internet, there was no Skype and we had to buy calling cards from European store to call overseas. The call was allowed once a week on Sunday and lasted 30 minutes and was only used to call my grandparents. Rita and I resolved to writing letters and sending them by mail. Letters took months to arrive, but boy was it joyful to receive one! Sometimes we would sneak stickers into the letters and those letters were extra special. As time went on our letters got shorter and I began to struggle with things to share too. One day we stopped writing all together. Our friendship slowly ended and the reality of living on two different continents settled in. Rita was not there for my wedding or the birth of my three children, nor was I there for hers. Instead, there were other girls that walked into our lives and filled that spot of being next to us during significant moments of our lives.
Immigration taught me one important yet shocking lesson in life: Friendships are not forever. Our plans are not set in stone. There is life, there are consequences and we must be prepared for that. See, since a very young age friends were my lifeline. I gave myself 110% into the relationships. I spent good 15 years of my life chasing that same feeling I once had being friends with Rita. This feeling made me a person of many friends and at the same time a person who made many mistakes. Here are some mistakes that I made in the relationships:
- Putting friendships before my family
- Having too many close friends and not having time for all of them, this caused me to hurt people unintentionally but often deeply
- Being “too open”. I considered everyone my best friend so I always was an open book this caused people to be jealous and hurt as the learned I was also as close and as open with others.
- Putting them first – not standing up for myself and people pleasing caused many torn relationships
- I allowed myself to get hurt way too often when others did not put me first
- Expecting others to do/act/perform in the same way I did towards them
- Avoiding hard conversations – caused much miscommunication and brokenness
- Gossip! I regret it so much
- Judging others
- Talking too much about myself caused me to fail to see others often
In the last two years I truly have been tackling this list as I struggled in my friendships. In that journey I have allowed God to mold my heart, my mind and my understanding of relationships. It was a battle for me, it was not easy. I have also lost a few friends during this time. I learned so much! But here is what I learned and here is what is different now:
- I put my family FIRST
- I don’t rush into becoming best friends with someone (yet still friendly and polite)
- I have a small circle of trusted girls who I come to with an open heart
- I am learning to stand up for myself and my wants in the relationship
- I have dropped any expectations or assumptions towards my friends
- I learned how to apologize and openly talk about hard things, issues
- I stand against gossip and judgement
- I treat everyone with respect and I try to look at others with positive perspective
- I have learned how to let people go and forgive fully
- I no longer believe that all friendships last a lifetime and thats OK. I learned how to live and enjoy the moment and the beauty of today in a relationship and how to be thankful for the good memories I have.
- I have also learned that when you least expect it some lost people can return and God is truly in the business of restoration.
So why do I write this today? Mostly because I feel so free! I feel victorious over an issue that has been bothering me for years. I feel that I have grown and matured through this journey. Today I have all kinds of friendships close and distant, lost and recovered. Today I know that it takes a village and then some to give me that good feeling I once had with Rita 🙂 I cannot say that my friendships and relationships are flawless – oh, far from it! But thats the beauty of our life – it needs to be continuously figured out and we must live it with an open heart.
Today was a good day. I am thankful for the girl who called to cry with me because she is struggling. Today I had a friend who took her time and visited me with her family while being on a short trip to our state. The girl who confronted me this week in regards to a conflict that we had two years ago and our friendship was reconciled. I am thankful to the girl who messaged me to say that she missed us at the New Years party last night. I am thankful to the one who said she does not want to see me until I recover from my cold because she is afraid to catch it (; I am thankful for my mentor-friends who will continue to teach me throughout this next year. I am thankful for all my social media friends who inspire me with their posts. I am thankful for the girls I will get to spend my Friday night with, laughing away over dinner. I am thankful to those coworker friends who get to listen to my crazy “i got stuck in the elevator” stories. I am even thankful to those with whom I lost contact over this last year, as the good times we had still exist in my memory and are not lost. Today I am so blessed and excited for what is yet to come in my relationships and life in the new 2020 year! Today, I am once again enjoying that warm feeling that only friends can bring into your life.
Thanks to social media I am now “instagram friends” with Rita and we enjoy looking into each other’s lives and sharing occasional comments. We both are married and we both are moms now. Friendships are not forever, they constantly change and evolve, they end and they begin – and in all that they are wonderful!