Over the few years, I have learned a lot about relationships—the ease of them and their challenges. As I grow and mature, it's become easier to step away from relationships that no longer align with who I am. And while it's become easier to part ways when necessary, it's also hard as hell not to backtrack—especially when missing the bond that once was. Relationships are not linear, and I think we are all showing up in the best way we know how. Deciding to part ways with a close friend, a family member, or someone like a therapist can cause a lot of inner turmoil, but staying in places that do not serve us is stifling. Staying in relationships that do not support our growth and well-being is unhealthy. And while parting ways may not always feel good, as we evolve and become more clear with what and who we want to share space with, a sense of OK-ness comes along. I talk about this in-depth in my new book (buy HOW WE HEAL). Through this new understanding and acceptance, we are reminded that abandoning ourselves and values to win others over isn't supportive or authentic to us individually or the relationship as a whole.
In the past, I used to get upset and in my head when a friendship would end or when I was unsure if I wanted to be in a relationship with someone. There was a lot of inner turmoil about the potential hurt feelings, how I would be viewed for leaving, and doubt around if I tried hard enough to make things work. Even thinking about leaving a relationship would cause unbearable anxiety. So much so that I would avoid conflict and sometimes vanish in silence so I wouldn't have to deal with any of the adverse side effects of parting ways head-on. These days, I don't go through that flow of emotions anymore. I've learned that I don't need to be attached to relationships that have run their course just because I like the idea of them. I've learned that sometimes feelings will hurt both sides and that you can't force things to get better that weren't meant to. A lot of the inner conflict I had came from the hope that things would change down the line or from the thought that maybe the person would change—perhaps I would change. But in the end, sometimes we just are who we are, and that's incompatible.
As I reflect on the importance of healthy communication and connection, I am so grateful for my small group of friends. I deeply value the relationships I'm in, and I feel like I finally have a solid, loving, and aligned core foundation with everyone in my life. When there's a conflict, we talk about it. When there are hurt feelings, we listen to each other and hold space with love. Many of us weren't taught how to build and maintain healthy connections. Over time, I've learned that by holding space for gratitude when things get challenging, uncomfortable, or awkward within fading friendships, I can be grateful for the time spent and be thankful that it's over. We're not taught to look at things like that. Society often nudges us to pick a side. But in my personal experience of recently parting ways with two people that I considered close, one of whom was a mentor, and the other was like a sister to me, picking sides is hard to do. One of the greatest lessons from those two endings in my life is that we can't hold onto things out of comfort. Gratitude teaches me to look at the positives and the negatives of all I've experienced in relationships. It has shown me that everything isn't a forever thing. It has shown me that I have work to do, and so does everybody else.
If you're in a relationship that's coming to a close, perhaps instead of looking at it as something purely negative, look at the relationship's ending as a season that is changing. I know this may feel much easier said than done—but it could be worth trying. Last Spring, I spoke with a woman named Amber Rae on my Hey, Girl Podcast about the ending of her marriage (listen here). She used a phrase that intrigued me when talking about her divorce. She said she “completed” a marriage. In our conversation, she emphasized that we are allowed to move on and part ways with grace, integrity, and love in hand. I really liked that reframing because we often immediately think of failure when we think of something like divorce or separation. Don't get me wrong, ending relationships isn't rosy or fun, but we can shift our thinking around the impact of the endings on our lives.
Seasons change, and people grow together or apart. It is OK for that to happen. Sometimes there's a miscommunication that can't be corrected, and it isn't in our best interest to keep trying to find common ground. Sometimes we'll have conversations and think, wow, that went well, and I'm ready to move forward, only to have a deep divide down the line. When we open our minds and hearts to being grateful for every beginning, ending, or completion, we realize the beauty of changing. Everyone we once walked with won't be a part of our journey for a lifetime. I know firsthand how disappointing it feels to think that you've found your people just to have them be in your sphere for a short time instead of forever. It's normal to wish things were different. It's normal not to want that chapter to come to a close.
I hold so much love and many well-wishes in my heart for the two amazing folks that I parted ways with. I wish them nothing but ease and the best. I wish them well—and I also do not want to reconnect. I am finding peace in missing the connection and maybe even missing the person. Reminiscing on the times shared is expected. Grieving what is no longer isn't out of the ordinary. But it doesn't always mean reconnection. It isn't always an invitation to reach out and rekindle. Instead, for me, it means deeply realizing that I'm human, and I can miss people that I once had a bond with. I can be grateful for the time we shared and grateful that the relationship has run its course and completed its journey alongside me.
Community Question (leave a comment): What is the season you're in today teaching you about gratitude?
Gratitude Journal is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
There's a line in India Arie's song "The Truth" that says: " If he ever left me, I wouldn't even be sad.
'Cause there's a blessing in every lesson. And I'm glad that I knew him at all". The line from that song is comforting. I also recently ended a friendship and the way I find peace with missing the person or missing the connection is by speaking over myself "I am glad to have known them at all". Their presence blessed my journey- even if it was just for a season.
This is soo timely. Before Christmas I parted ways with a close friend that I had such a strong bond with but we were on totally different paths and it felt like a one sided friendship so it was definitely time to part ways. But because of our closeness I questioned whether I moved in haste but your confirmation that we are allowed to miss them but not rekindle is a great ease to my heart. Thank you for your kind spirit and your wisdom in your new book Alex , it has brought me soo much peace and a sense of bravery to face my fears and begin again ❤️