I keep mulling over in my mind a couple of relationships that have become strained. I started to write difficult, but strained is a better descriptor. What has changed? Have I changed? And why am I continuing to agonize over them? Few relationships last a lifetime, but why do I feel badly when I know a relationship is ending, and why do I continue to ruminate?
I talked to a friend yesterday about this. She said, “If the relationship no longer fills your heart, it’s time to let go. If you’ve lost trust, feel repeatedly misunderstood, dismissed, or just no longer feel connected, then your heart is starving and it’s time to make a change.” I thought about my recent Camino walk from Portugal to Spain. I met many people on the walk. I enjoyed dinner with a couple of my fellow pilgrims, others walked with me for a mile or two, and with a few, we had only brief conversations as our pace was not the same.
A relationship that easily falls away is a one-sided one. Jonathan Carroll best describes a loving and life-long relationship: “She took much of what I was or believed and, putting her own stamp on it, handed it back to me as if I had never seen it before. Perhaps that is what love is–another’s desire to return you to yourself enhanced by their vision, graced by their handwriting.”
With some relationships, there is a knowing when it begins to slip away. You feel a shift as part of you wants to hold on while your intuition says it’s time to let go. There’s nothing to justify or explain when we near that bend in the road. We untether so we may continue on the path that is ours alone. I’m fortunate to have populated my life with people who have joined me for a short time and altered my trajectory, as well as friendships that lasted years. All these experiences have enriched my life.
In the conversation with my friend, she wondered if I could be confusing my ruminating with grieving the loss of those relationships. Perhaps. On reflection, there is an instant when my heart hesitates and in the next moment says, “We walked together for a time, and now at this intersection our paths diverge.” This is the moment of ‘sweet sorrow’ and the hope of what’s ahead.