Sometimes growing up means saying good-bye to the ones you loved. It means walking out on them, maybe when they feel like they need you most. Sometimes it means shutting a door and trying with all your might to never look back.
It doesn’t come easy, this part of growing up. It’s a knock-down, drag-out, full-on war within yourself. Are you doing the right thing? Will it all pay off in the end, or are you just burning bridges for the hell of it? Why are you turning away from someone that you can’t stop thinking about?
When you have to let someone go, really let them out of your life, never to return, sometimes they don’t get the closure they were looking for. It may feel selfish. It may feel as though your whole world is crashing down. It probably feels exactly like that.
You’re going to feel like the worst person in the world, because you know that this is your fault. You’re the one ending it, even if your friendship has been begging to be put down for years.
Saying good-bye to someone doesn’t mean you don’t wish them well. That you don’t remember the good times, because you do. You remember them, long for them, even though sometimes you wish you didn’t.
Because if you didn’t remember the good times, then this would all be easy. If you forgot all the times they held you while you cried, laughed with you, sat in your bed at 3am after everyone else had walked out—then it wouldn’t matter that they weren’t there for you anymore. It wouldn’t matter that you had to let them go, push them away, and say good-bye when all you wanted to say was “come over.”
Because if you didn’t have those, all you would remember were the bad times. The fights. The yelling. The anger that lasted for days on end. The backstabbing and the selfishness and overwhelming desire to one-up each other. The constant need to be right, to win, to come out on top. Then you’d just remember throwing things at the wall and slamming doors in your last ditch attempt to make some kind of radical point.
If that was all you had, then none of this would really matter. But you do. You know how good things can be, but you realize, finally, that the bad outweighs the good.
Letting them go is the kindest way to let them have the last word. A final way to say “Alright, you win. You’re the better person, and your prize? Not having to deal with me in your life anymore.”
They’ll deny it. Say that you’re actually wrong, just to say it one more time. They’ll fight you on it, begging without actually begging to let things go back to how they were. They’ll push you, but all they’re doing is successfully proving your point. That your lives are better off spent apart. That future you’d planned together, the places you were going to go—it’s really just full of empty promises and late-night shouting matches.
Friendships aren’t meant to be that hard. They aren’t supposed to tire you out and leave you weary. The hardest part is admitting to yourself that it isn’t all their fault. Every little thing they’ve done to you, you’ve paid back tenfold. You’re more to blame here than they are, but sometimes people aren’t meant to stay in your life, no matter how hard that reality is to accept.
Instead, you just have to let go.
Maybe you’d kill to make sure they were happy. To know that things are going to be ok for them, because you still want what’s best for them. After all, that’s all you’ve ever really wanted. Maybe you want to call. Check in. Send a quick text message just to see how life’s been lately. Make sure they know that you’re thinking about them, always. Tell them you should catch up, how you have so many things you’ve needed to say to them. Ask if you can have one more chance to lay it all out before you go your separate ways.
But you know you can’t do that. It would never work. Someone would roll their eyes, get annoyed, talk over the other with points about how wrong they actually were. It would end with someone storming out, even more hurt than they were before. Deep down, you know—how things are now? That’s really what’s best.
So maybe you just write about it. Publish it somewhere on the internet that you’re not even sure they remember exists. Maybe then they’ll see it and know how you feel—that you’re sorry, but you aren’t ever coming back.