Always Look Again

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For the past two years the holidays have sent me into a tailspin thinking about the loved ones who aren’t with us. Both the ones who’ve passed away, and those who are right across town, who we don’t talk to for reasons ranging from the petty to the-lawyer-to-us-not-to. For me it’s the latter that is harder to handle. Yes, decorating the tree with ornaments from someone who passed always is difficult, and Christmas morning or Christmas dinner is rough with place settings missing, but at least that also brings some happy memories.

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The other only brings bad memories, especially after the anger fades and you let yourself feel it. Especially when you remember they’re just on the other side of town, celebrating without you, probably not giving you a moment’s thought. One of life’s little secrets, the things people don’t tell you about having close friends is this: the pain that you think you’ll never have to go through after you get married? That’s exactly what you go through when you stop talking to a close friend.

It’s always heartbreaking when someone who was such a big part of your life suddenly isn’t there anymore. When that person is alive & well in the same city it’s heartbreaking over and over and over again. You avoid Facebook or places around town to keep from seeing pictures of them laughing & smiling or running into them. Then when they pop up in unexpected places it makes you sick to your stomach and the pain you thought you had gotten past comes back all over. Your mind might reenact the scene from Sex and the City where Carrie wants to get back together with Aidan and he yells “you broke my heart!” at her. You feel like the 16-year-old version of yourself, the one who saw her exboyfriend at a Starbucks on her side of town and wanted to yell “this is my side of town, go back to your side and let me drink my coffee in peace!” but instead quite literally ran away. True story. Sometimes you don’t even have to see them for it to happen. A song, a movie, or an entire tv series will do the trick. You long for a color coded map of the city with all the safe places clearly marked. You long for there not to be a legal reason forcing you to be in the same room with them. You long for there not to be a legal reason keeping you from running to them, apologizing, and hoping they want to be friends again, too. You’d like to think that it’s the kind of “break up” where you can call crying and they come running over as soon as they hear the message, but it’s probably more the type where they take their boat out of your garage without saying anything.

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It’s cyclical, these things. You’re angry, which is why you stop talking, then you cool off and there’s nothing but sadness. The sadness makes you want to apologize, but the stubbornness and the knowledge that you always the one to apologize makes you angry. The anger fades to sadness over the fact that they probably won’t apologize. The sadness spirals into anger that they were in the same room as you and didn’t say anything. And on and on. Aside from the anger and the sadness, there is also a tiny bubble of hope, ”when this is all over things will be better”, which bobs to the surface now and then, but also slowly erodes over time. Until you’re sure they won’t make the first move, and that if you make the first move they won’t reciprocate. It’s enough to send you reaching for the Toblerone, the chocolate milk, the Publix cookies, the vodka. Pick your pleasure.

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When the tiny bubble makes its way to the surface you think “they know I’m here for them if they need me”, but when it begins to sink down again you think “when have they ever come to me in the past?” You wonder why you’re clinging to the memory of a friendship when it’s brings you so much pain. And you start to doubt the friendship you had, wondering if you’re looking back at it with rose-colored glasses. And you think “if it was what I thought it was, and they miss it to, how do we get back to where we were?”

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9 Responses to Always Look Again

  1. Micha says:

    It’s quite the heart ache, isn’t it? *sigh*

  2. I know every feeling you just said. In fact, I just had a good hard cry about the ridiculousness of it all just the other night.

  3. Cait, friend break-ups are the worst. In the end, sometimes it’s better off though. I’m finally starting to realize that I don’t need to surround myself with people that make me feel anxious, upset, or worried… It took a while to come to this conclusion, since I always just want everyone to be happy! But now that I realize this, I feel a lot more content with the amazing friends I do have in my life. Let yourself cry, too!

    • Cait says:

      Thanks Kim!

      I typed out a very long response to you, but then I realized that it’s too complicated to talk about here, even in veiled terms. Suffice to say, the things that came between us were not his doing, and I hold the tiniest bit of hope that one day things will go back to the way they were.

      Regardless, I will let myself cry. And hopefully the heart ache will ease.

  4. Pingback: Holiday Amnesia | Hernando House

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