Looking back:  relationships past



Column by Fatimah Shalash. E-mail [email protected].

Missing someone is a tricky business.

There is a careful art between knowing how much to hang on and how much to let go. You could hold on, not deal with reality and be miserable to prove to yourself and whoever, that indeed, that person meant a lot to you.

Or, you can move on as if they were never there. But what’s the in-between?

In dealing with a loss of a loved one, a friend moving or someone simply fading out of your life, there are many complicated emotions. It can be simple sadness, the feeling of a thousand needles in your side every time you breathe or denial.

Then the coping mechanisms kick in. It’s going to be hard to live without them, so start preparing now. Distance yourself. List ways they annoy you. Stop calling. Be angry. That works, right? Not for long.

What got me thinking about all of this was the sudden realization that eventually, you do move on. I’ve done it, because at times I’ve had to. Worse, I’ve done it without meaning to.

Maybe you’ll be aware of it, or maybe one day you’ll wake up and realize you’ve adjusted to living your life with one less person in it.

You may think, ‘well what’s so bad about moving on?’ And sometimes, it can be a good thing. But, it’s that the connection is lost. It’s the thought that people will be able to let go of you too. The friends who are supposed to be friends forever, the sister who you said you would always stay in touch with, the classmates who have altered your life in little or big ways.

Again, what is the in-between?

If the loss is permanent, missing them can be an everyday thing. It can be more subtle — just a thought or a memory that pops in your mind, triggered by a certain smell or sound. Then there’s the guilt of living a normal life without them. But it’s what you would want for them. And you do it because you have to. And even if they’re not there with you physically, they’re there emotionally, bound to every part of you.

Then there are the others. The ones that are there but aren’t there. And I’m thinking that it’s okay to miss someone less. I mean, it’s okay to think about them less. It doesn’t take away from the time they were in your life.

The truth is, if you remained friends with all of your friends from childhood and on, there wouldn’t be enough room for you to breathe or to get close to them and know them the way a real friend should. They’ll come and go, as you will come and go in other’s lives.

Some of the friendships that don’t last are just as important as the ones that do.

On the flipside, missing someone will let you carry around a piece of that person. Even if you don’t talk to them or see them often, they influence your thoughts and actions. That pang in your stomach is a reminder of what once was and what still can be.

Because ultimately, we are shaped by our relationships with others; it’s what we know and how we survive.

As the holidays approach, that feeling of nostalgia and looking back on the past can become stronger. Take a few minutes to send an e-mail or text, make a phone call or simply pay attention to those loved ones that you think about, but haven’t talked to.