There's something about a new wound, even if it's smaller and less serious than a previous one, that can reopen the older, deeper wound ... if they're too similar.
I keep reminding myself lately: keep moving forward, don't look back. For me, that's the way I march through sadness and disappointment. I try to keep looking forward to what the next day might bring, rather than looking back at what happened and feeling sad about it.
But it's not always so black and white, I guess. The brain is a funny thing, and you can't always trick it into thinking what you want it to think. Sometimes memories are too powerful and they overcome the best intentions of your will.
You know that feeling, when something wonderful -- whether it's a vacation or a long weekend spent with someone you're infatuated with or anything similar -- comes to an end? I call it "the end of summer camp" feeling, where something you were so used to is gone and you just feel a little empty. That feeling is so poignant to me when it happens.
I said goodbye last night to a friend who's moving. He's a man, who became one of my closest friends in very short order, and he's moving across the country. In just those three ways alone, there are a lot of similarities to The Dude, though there are plenty more I won't get in to. But there are tons of differences, too. And while this five-month friendship doesn't even come close to the four years I had with The Dude, it apparently comes close enough for my brain to reopen some of those wounds.
I spent the morning rereading this post, written last April, and wondering if my life is just running on a loop: She Hurts.
And then, in survival mode and because I didn't feel like crying, I tried to think of some of the differences between then and now. Here's what I do know I've learned over the last year:
People come into -- and out of -- your life for a reason.
You might not always be able to see the reasons at the time, but you will eventually figure it out. Whether you learned something from that person or grew in a way that you might not have without that person, or without the experience of them leaving your life, there's something there. And this also applies to the people you're actually happy to have out of your life now.
For me, this somehow helps ease the sadness I feel when things change or the anger I feel when it seems like someone only came into my life to hurt me. If I can figure out what I learned from it, I feel like I'm ahead of the curve. And it also helps me to make the most of the time I have with someone, when I don't yet know why they've come into my life but I'm just happy to have them there.
Friendships last for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
This has been a tough lesson for me to learn, but once I understood it, I felt so much better about letting go of the friendships that aren't meant to last a lifetime. I no longer feel like a failure when I realize that a friendship ended probably because it wasn't meant to last in the first place. In the same breath, I value the ones that have lasted even that much more, because it suggests to me that they might be the lifetime ones.
The only constant in life is change.
This is a tough one for me, but it's truer than almost anything I know. Usually, just as you're getting used to things the way they are is when change will come along. I get a little pissed about this sometimes, but it's still good to remember that it's not just happening to you, it's happening to everyone.
You can't control anything.
I can't make time stand still. I can't make someone love me forever. I can't will change into holding off until I'm ready for it. I can't force all the stars to align so that I can get exactly what I want. The only thing I can do is recognize that I'm not in control and learn how to roll with the punches.
Knowing these things still doesn't mean you can predict what will happen from the outset.
And there's the rub. Even learning all of these things doesn't mean that you know what's going to happen next. There's only so much you can do to prepare yourself. You know that change is a constant, that people will come and go from your life, that you won't have an explanation for why fate would put a person in your path who you get along with so very well, and then take them away. And sometimes it will still catch you by surprise.
So I guess what I've learned in the last year is that this is all just part of life. You take the good with the bad, keep on moving, and find a way to focus on the good. It's the best we all can do. And besides, stuff could always be worse. Maybe it's not such a bad thing after all to have friends spread out across the country.