I consciously am avoiding the word relationship in this post. I use friendship here as a blanket term for any good relationship – parents and children, colleagues at work, siblings, cousins, neighbours, granparents and grandchildren, pets and people.
Over a period of time, I have watched and observed a lot of such friendships wither away. Parents and children have nothing to say to each other, friends from school do not feel comfortable with each other, cousins and siblings have grown apart, and grandparents face a generation gap. But the base line is – everyone reminisces about those past times, when things were good, and your heart did not feel so heavy with uncomfortable baggage. So what happened in between?
1. Growing apart – The most common excuse a person will give is – “we have grown apart”. Life is just too busy and with the family and the job – there is just no time to keep in touch. This might be true in many cases (I agree) with people you categorize as acquaintances, colleagues, or those who did not really strike that vibe with you. But it cannot happen, to people you have considered friends, spent time listening to their feelings (happy or sad) and maybe sharing some of yours. Keeping in touch? That’s the next point we will be talking about.
2. Keeping in touch – Well, the truth is ‘keeping in touch’ has become simpler than ever before. With Facebook, Skype, the infinite messenger apps that are compatible on both your laptop and phone, Whatsapp, e-mail, and e-mail alerts on the go – are you kidding me? How can keeping in touch be a problem? You do not have to write letters that showcase your bad handwriting, and reflect your crooked trails of thought – or wait at the mercy of the postal department to bring you some of that human touch?
Ever observed that of your 1097 listed under friends on Facebook – you actually communicate with about 12? Or with the 780 contacts on your mobile memory – you send about 200 messages to about 3 people in a week and about the same number being distributed among the other contacts in a year (at least birthday wishes to some). Well, that’s because that is what they have become – contacts. So when did they shift from being ‘Friends’ to becoming a ‘contact’ – people you rely on for help, to call in a favour?
Well – for a friend to become ‘just a contact’ something has to have happened. Why do we stop becoming comfortable with our own children, cousins? People who shared important phases of our lives. Why do we sub-consciously shut them out?
Because we have silently over looked the fact that something has happened. Did you support your wife over your father on an issue? Did your cousin make a dig at your parenting skills through your daughter? Do you feel your best friend is subtly trying to oust you at whatever you do? Did your son tell you to mind your own business? ‘Small things ‘ like the above, that puncture your ego are the trigger points that change the equation.
The Ego is hurt, and shields the Self from bouncing back to normal. Next time you see your cousin – you do not communicate half as well as you used to – thanks to the dig she made at you last time. Sensing your change, your cousin also builds up her wall of defense taking you to point 1 (Growing apart) and subsequently to point 2 (Not keeping in touch). And the vicious circle continues…
Fear.These petty incidents stem from fear and tend to snowball into friendship-threatening scenarios, which can be avoided with a bit of detachment. Do not take anything or anyone to heart. You are your own best friend – do not give others the power to affect you emotionally. Instead reach out to them. Snide remark from a gal pal, ignore the comment, give it some space and go for a neutral outing. Nagging but adorable grandmother? Repel the aspect in her behaviour that irritates you and change the topic to a neutral zone. It helps to safeguard such friendships, that are actually useful, secure zones. They are wonderful if they do last, rather than give in to a momentary impulse of insanity and rue about it later.
Think about it – it would be good to have a big brother who temporarily could make you feel like a kid sister and protect you. It would be great to lean on your grandmother for some home-remedies for acne scars. And wouldn’t it be great to have a colleague to whom you could actually share your thoughts about your boss’ lack of finesse in handling a problem? Or your friend who steps in to take care of your kid so that you could have some space for yourself? These friendships have to be nurtured.
Nurse your friendship back to health, Death is too strong a penalty to pay. Push aside your fragile ego, put on a smile and reach out a bit. If the other person does not want to take it – then its just too bad. You may have to watch yourselves grow apart – hopefully with less regrets though.
P.S. The above post was meant for friendships that wither away due to petty reasons. Serious cases like infidelity, betrayal, and serious insecurity issues obviously have to be dealt with in a whole other fashion!
This entry was posted in A penny for my thoughts, Poems and Creative writing and tagged back on track, dying away, Friendship, growing apart, insecurity, keep in touch, lack of time, Perceptions, relationship, skype, Thoughts.