Photo Credit: Axel Bührmann

Photo Credit: Axel Bührmann

This year has been a year of loss. My circle of friends and family has shrunk significantly. Not through death though. Some of the shrinkage has been a deliberate choice. Some have been coming for a long time. And for some, there is no explanation. Losing people in your life is a painful process regardless of whether you made the choice or not.

You reach a point in your life when you realise that you are too old for this crap. In the choices that were deliberate I had reached the end of my tolerance and understanding. I will not tolerate people who attack, insult, abuse and take advantage of important people in my life. The vicious back-stabbing and gossip mongering was poisoning my life. The anxiety and stress that resulted almost crippled me.  I ended up getting very sick and fell into a deep depression. I was drowning in the poison.

When you decide to cut ties, the backlash is brutal. By standing up for yourself and saying ‘No more’, people will attack you, gossip about you, and make up stories that have you reeling. I have not quite figured out why, but perhaps it is because they no longer have any power over you. That frightens them.

As I went through this heart breaking process, I was devastated. The vitriol was astounding, but what was really interesting was the deep sense of loss and sadness I experienced. I dumped the majority of my family and that is a deep cut. These people had been a part of my entire life. Not just a few years or months. My entire life. And now they were gone. Because I chose it.

But after a month or so I noticed something else interesting. My life was peaceful. There was no angst, drama, ugliness or back-stabbing vitriol. I felt like I could breathe again and my health improved. It was liberating. I had taken my power back from the situation.

I lost someone else this year. A really good friend, or so I thought. To this day I have no idea why they stopped talking to me. I asked them a few times, and all I got were excuses about their life being busy. This was someone I saw several times a month and spoke to them at least once a week on the phone. Then boom. They were gone. That hurt so badly. I started asking myself what was wrong with me. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with me, but for whatever reason that person chose to walk away. I have accepted it now. And that brings a measure of peace.

Another loss was that of my daughter. We had been fighting more and more, and eventually she packed her bags and moved in with her boyfriend. The loss I felt was worse than anything else I had ever experienced. Then I remembered that my eldest daughter had done the same thing when she was eighteen. Within a few months though, our relationship was better than it had ever been. The same thing has now started to happen with my younger daughter.

I raised resilient robust children. When they reached their adult years, they rebelled against my authority. In hindsight this is a good thing. They moved out, got their lives sorted out and are strong independent women. That loss is part of any family cycle. Children grow up and I, as a mother, had to let them go. Now we are good friends for life.

All this loss has actually been good for me because it has left me with a kernel of good people that are still a part of my life. It also made me realise that sometimes you have to let people go, even if it hurts. There are a few relationships in my life that are still going to be pruned, not because of anger or resentment, but from a realization that they are not reflecting the person I want to be.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn                  

I get lonely sometimes. But I am okay with that now. The few friends that I have left fill my soul and heart.  I am now focused on building a better version of myself. I asked myself a few questions about what I want from life and this was just one of the answers in relation to people.

I want to build friendships that are not superficial. I want deep intimate conversations about the things that scare you and the things that make you want to scream with joy. I want discussions about flaws and strengths, gifts and gripes, and to really make a connection with someone. That takes trust. If a friend does not trust you enough to let you in that deep, then they are just acquaintances. I still love them, but I will no longer invest the time and energy of letting them into the dark corners of my soul. Life is too short for hollow shallow connections.