When I first started One Grounded Angel, it was a personal blog for me to share my thoughts and feelings. As my spiritual growth accelerated, it became an online vehicle for my emerging business, and the personal pieces gave way to instructional pieces and card-reading videos. I’ve missed the catharsis that comes from putting words to my emotions on paper (or screen), so when I was struggling with an old wound recently, I found myself penning the below piece. It doesn’t offer any conclusions (sorry) but it might just give others the courage to explore the shape of any pain we keep stuffing down.
I woke up two nights ago with her face in my head, a faded imprint from a forgotten dream. It’s hovered at the edges of my mind intermittently since, almost waiting for me to catch her eye.
I haven’t thought about her much in years. She was my best friend and my closest ally, and then she wasn’t. Our friendship eroded so softly in the background that its eventual shattering, by then impossible to ignore, caused a seismic shift in my life. In the same way that a prolonged cold snap makes memories of the previous summer inaccessible in the directory of the mind, I have sometimes wondered if our friendship, and those of the circle of friends that she won custody of, had even happened at all. For a long time, I was so angry at being tossed aside so casually I could not grieve the loss of her presence in my life. My bitter humiliation and searing loneliness discoloured our private jokes and our shared memories like a Polaroid left in the sun. I am no longer angry. I am now – suddenly, inexplicably, out of nowhere, six years after the fact – mourning the loss of one of the most meaningful connections of my 20s and 30s.
There is no language to mourn someone who is still alive, but no longer alive to you. There is no convenient Elisabeth Kubler-Ross grief diagram for moving through the severance of a close friendship.
When I was little and felt my feelings building up inside, I used to count things around me to help jolt me back to the safety of what is tangible. I’m writing this on a train trip back from the city. My hair is pulled across my face so no one can see my tears. Ten stations to go.
I miss her, knowing at the same time that I am missing a version of her that no longer exists. I am holding both truths in the one hand. They rub against each other, jostling for gravitas. The weight of my sadness is immense and I was not prepared for it. I let go of the anger years ago, but I did not know there was a well of sorrow underneath. I am OK. I am not OK. I have a life she hasn’t seen. She has children whose names, ages, personality quirks will never be known to me. I have a heart-led healing business she will never hear me enthuse about, a depth of self-acceptance she could never have imagined and – finally! – relationship stability she’ll never bear witness too. She doesn’t know I quit drinking, grew my hair out, lasered off my tattoo and bonded with friends who didn’t, it would seem, regard me as too heavy a load to bear. She won’t be there when I get married, buy a house or publish my first book. Twelve lampposts whizzing past.
I leaned on her too much, I know that now. I put her on a pedestal. I judged her when she did life differently to me. I outsourced to her the job of my own security instead of bolstering it within myself. I know I didn’t deserve to be frozen out, but I wasn’t blameless either. When you depend on someone else for your happiness and don’t give them space to move in a new direction, you put a stranglehold on your own growth and theirs. I tell this to clients because I know all too well. Our friendship was right to end, but that does not assuage my sorrow. Eight seats empty.
In a court of law, an impartial party weighs up the testimonies of both parties and discerns the most credible version of events. In a theatre, ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ are easily identifiable. This is a story that really happened, and there are no clean lines nor conclusions. I did not want to tell this story for a long time because I did not want to own my version of events. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I have learned what I learned but I still miss her friendship and there’s nothing to be done about that. I’m telling this story now because an imprint of her face is still here but she is not. I have learned you can accept the course of your life without wanting to change anything, but the grief, it turns out, of losing something you once held dear is not a measurable entity. I will likely continue to go in and out of being OK with something that was not OK. Last stop.