Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sara and Melissa talk about...Last Words

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're exploring a topic we explored in a blog project group we used to be a part of: Having the last word. If you could have the last word with someone, what would you say to them? We'd love to hear about it in the comments section. For reference, here are the posts we wrote a while back: Melissa talked about a toxic friend and Sara talked about a former colleague. This time around, we're going in a new direction. 

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:                                                                                                                                       
For most of my life, I called myself a “people collector.” I would befriend someone, then maintain that friendship, for better or worse, for as long as I could. I told myself that it was something I did because friendships are one of the most important relationships to me, and that still holds true. My close friends are like family to me. But often, I would hold on to a friendship that could be harmful and damaging, or hurtful. Then I’d chalk it up to their personality, that it was who they were, as a person. That it wasn’t right or fair for me to expect more because it isn’t my job to change someone. You love people, as is.                                          

Growing up, I didn’t have a stable childhood. I was never in one place for very long, shifting between my parents, grandparents, friends and their parents. Anyone I could hold onto for longer than a minute had been my way of surviving through a lot of youthful trauma and fear, which is why I never wanted to let go of anyone, and it carried over into my adult years. The thought of someone disliking me, or having any anger towards me, had become the worst imagined scenario.

As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve had my children and settled into my years, I’ve learned how to set boundaries, to pick out the friendships that are genuine and healthy, and to walk away from the ones that are not. It’s not always easy, and I never would have guessed that having adult friendships could be even more complicated and harder to decipher and figure out.

Five years ago, I had one friend completely ghost me. I had an idea as to why, given the people who were in her life and how complicated her relationships were. But we’d been friends for nearly a decade when this happened, and it felt like it had come from out of nowhere. And it started on Facebook, of all places. Since I’m not that big into social media, it only added to the bewilderment I’d felt when she’d blocked me. We had a unique friendship that had been born from similar backgrounds and at times, I felt as though we leaned on one another because we’d both “been there.” It hurt to lose that and to be completely shut out of her life. 

Last year, she reached out to me, on Facebook. She sent a message and said it had been “a hot minute” since she’d last talked with me. She briefly filled me in on what she’d been doing, the latest in her life, and that she “missed my mind.” There were no apologies. No, “Hey, I’m sorry I walked away from our friendship five years ago.” She dropped in and expected that we could pick back up where we left off, and I had to think on it “a hot minute” on whether I wanted to talk with her again. When I reflected on my feelings, I realized that I didn’t find value in that friendship anymore. That I’d done plenty in my life, had gone through things, had so many ups and downs that she didn’t know about, just as she had gone through too, I imagine. But, I didn’t see a need in picking back up or finding out why she’d blocked me to begin with. It was no longer important or relevant, so I never replied to her. I let the message sit, and a week later, she retracted the message--I didn’t even know that was an option on Facebook! There were no “last words” between us, and it felt fitting in that scenario.

The last friendship I had to let go of, though, was a much more recent event, and it was much harder for me to do because it was a friendship that had gone on for much longer and there were so many ties between us, personally, familially. I have this habit of wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses when I love someone, and the lenses were thick. In the end, it got to be too toxic. I’d asked for only one thing--honesty. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that honesty can be the hardest thing to give to a person. 

I hope the best for her. I still love her, of course. That will never go away. My last words to her would be to take care of herself and I really do wish her well, on so many levels. Over the course of walking away from that friendship, I’ve flitted back and forth between feelings of anger, loss, confusion, and pain, but sitting here now and writing this last words post, I don’t have animosity towards her, not anymore. And maybe that’s what has made it an easier process for me in letting go. 

I used to think that expression, “Friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime” didn’t really apply to me, because when I made a friend, it was always for life. But now, I get it. It doesn’t mean those friendships are buried away and never amounted to anything, because I do feel like every single person who has come into my life, for whatever reason, or how long of a season, has added something (or lessons learned) to my life. I only hope I’ve been able to do the same for them.

Melissa Amster:                                                                                       
Six years ago, I found out from a close friend that she was in a really bad situation. I cannot elaborate too much on this, but read Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill (reviewed here) if you want to get an idea of the nightmare my friend has been going through (and it's still going on for her). Like the book, the situation does involve her scumbag of an ex-husband (and that's putting it nicely).                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having said that, I'd want to have last words with both my friend and her ex-husband. The only way I could do this with her would be to time travel to about seven years ago and warn her to be ready for what will happen, so that she can prepare herself for anything her ex throws at her to put her in the position she's in now. I'd tell her to do whatever it takes to make sure she and her kids are protected from his cruel and inexplicably vindictive behavior. (I would probably have to tell her that I'm from the future and hopefully arm myself with some proof of that.)

Seeing that time travel doesn't exist, unfortunately I can't go back to right things before they went so horribly wrong for her. However, I would LOVE to tell off her ex-husband. I would not hold back with all the cussing I would launch his way. I'd spew vitriol at him for hours and hours. I would ask him how he can even live with himself, being such a spiteful and disgusting creature. I've been saving this anger and hatred toward him for the past six years and I would not hesitate to let him hear every. Last. Word. 

I really hope things will turn around for my friend soon. I've constantly been praying for her. (I've also been praying for her ex to get his long overdue karma already.) If anyone reading this knows of a pro bono lawyer she could speak with for legal advice, or has other resources that could somehow help her out, please don't hesitate to contact me. I will definitely get that information to her. (Read the synopsis of the book I mentioned earlier, as the situations are very similar.)

Tell us who you'd like to have last words with.

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