How often have you unfriended people on Facebook in the recent past? If you tell me you haven’t done that, I’d find it hard to believe. Unless, you were extremely careful about who you friended or re-connected with in the first place. But it seems that friending and unfriending are so much easier on Facebook and Twitter. One press of a button and a friend can vanish into oblivion. Or so it seems, at least.
It’s never so easy in ‘real’ life, is it?
The Unfriending Ritual
It’s always difficult to accept that some relationships and friendships that meant a lot to us must end. It’s always harder when they end abruptly or without a chance to really say our goodbyes or make our peace. It’s harder to accept when we are totally cut off from the other person by their choice. All that we are left with are memories, some good, some bad and some downright ugly and an empty space in our heart that we had reserved for that person. If only we had another chance to say our goodbyes. If only, we could meet that person again and explain our point of view. If only we hadn’t been so quick to cut them off. If only s/he had explained why we were not a part of their lives anymore.
It somehow feels like a castle in the sand you had painstakingly created. Then, before you were prepared to let it go, a sudden wave washed it away!
I think part of the problem is that we all need certain rituals to say goodbye. When our loved ones die, we have funerals or wakes to say our goodbyes. But when we lose friends because of misunderstandings, there are sometimes no rituals involved. Perhaps some angry words, or a realization that you were being used, or worse, complete silence is all we get.
(We) need to create some kind of rites and rituals, some kinds of ceremonies that allow us to recognize the often very paradoxical sensations of leaving: the loss of it and the liberation of it, whether it’s forced or whether it’s chosen.~ Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot from The Endings That Set Us Free
How do I deal with such things? I have symbolically torn and burnt letters, cards and photographs in the past. I’ve had a little ritual of putting an empty chair in front of me and talking to the ‘friend’ I imagine sitting on it (shades of Clint Eastwood, you’re thinking!). I had an imaginary conversation as I told her/him goodbye. I’ve written a letter to one friend, expressing my strong feelings of hurt and anger and torn it up without sending it. These are all symbolic gestures and they’ve worked for me.
The unfriending ritual. Do you have one?