I've been thinking about friendship.
If you were to ask me to categorize my relationships these past few years, I would probably grimace and drop them into something akin to tumultuous.
There's the cluster that was our adoption falling apart and the awkwardness of grief. I've never been great with verbalizing emotion. Because of this, those closest to us had difficulty knowing what to do with the bomb that just went off in the middle of our lives. For a few weeks, we heard nothing. After a period of silence, I sent emails to two of my closest friends at the time. I tried to make them as graceful as possible. Grief is weird. I know I didn't word them perfectly because I literally had no precursor to fall back on with this situation.
They were the ones I sent pictures to when I got them from the birth mother. They saw the baby first — before our family. But in my stumbling around, I could not articulate the importance of them being there for us while we grieved.
One of those emails resulted in me sitting at a Taco Deli, crying while working through the messy middle of expectations and forgiveness. The other one didn't go so well. I wrote that I felt abandoned during a huge period of need, she responded she was busy with her new son. We volleyed back and forth until it ended with a puttered sigh of exhaustion that I would later realize was the death knoll of our friendship. Someone I once considered my person would eventually unfriend me on Facebook with no warning, and leave me to wonder where I could have remedied what was broken.
The truth: I unfollowed her feed long before she unfriended me, the pain of seeing her grapple with motherhood too heavy a weight to bear in the new silence between us.
And then there was the necessary breaking. The one who labeled me her Elora. The one who not-so-timidly grew to possess everything I reached for and considered. The breaking point came one night while I held her in my arms, her tears flowing freely. Suddenly she took a breath and screamed obscenities with such ferocity that it took every molecule not to push her away in fear. The words were directed at no one in particular, which made it that much more haunting. I inhaled and closed my eyes and swallowed against the whisper of my Spirit, "those words were directed toward you, love. Leave."
Shortly after, she would speak darkness, and exhausted, I would stammer. To this day I wish I would have stayed a second longer to speak. Instead, wounds went deep and shrapnel flew. I knew I was done.
The cut was painful but exact. Root bound relationships are like that — the ending always takes a piece of you, but the healing is quick once the necessary is cut away.
This time though, the healing was marred by other relationships. Those who left when they promised to stay. Those who disappeared with nothing to explain. Those who cut me outside their own boundary line, for reasons of their own I'm sure.
This is why I think of tumultuous when presented with my relational landscape. It makes me want to run from any kind of intimacy, which is probably why I haven't confronted a close friend about blocking me out of nowhere. It's also probably why my hands shook when I hit send on a text asking someone why she unfriended me on Facebook. If these people left me at a moment's notice, what's stopping everyone else?
I know the answer to this, but I don't like it.
It's choosing to stay. It's the risk. Most importantly, it's recognizing who my people are by their willingness to dig in the trenches. These are not the ones who wallow in my vices and celebrate my mistakes. These are the ones who carry me from the battle field when I'm too tired to take another step. They're the ones who grab my hand and whisper, "where you go, I'll go" as I'm walking out the door.
It's my husband's hands on my face while I sleep, checking to see if I have a fever when I'm sick.
It's texting my best friend that I'm currently stuck in traffic and crying because I feel like I'm stuck in life and have no idea what I'm doing, knowing that she's going to say the perfect thing to get my ass back in gear.
It's talking to my sister about purpose and pride and the distractions that get in the way of all of it.
It's changing plans for dinner with a friend in the midst of heartbreak.
It's rooting deep, even when the fear of abandonment starts making an appearance. It's choosing to believe that leaving is not the norm, and that my people with me in the arena are just as bruised and broken as I am, but refuse to call it quits.
And because they stay, I will stay.