TL:DR: It’s ok to cut people out of your life that no longer fit into who you are, but it doesn’t change the fact that they made an impact on shaping the person you are today.
I think there is a lot to be said about harboring and nurturing relationships with people in your life. Whether it’s an old friend from high school or elementary school, a business or work colleague, or even a current or past significant other. There are a lot of difficulties that come with maintaining a relationship with another person, but I think arguably the most difficult is staying in touch and communicating. That’s not what this post is about though. This post is about the elephant in the room when it comes to relationships and that is knowing and accepting when it is time to let go of that person and move on.
Recently, I was confronted with a situation with a person that had a fairly large impact in my life to which I chosen not to speak to for a couple years. In short, there was a falling out and I decided to cut that person out of my life. This seems pretty normal right? This is typically how relationships end. Something negative happens and one or both parties decided not to recover from it and then harbor some type of resentment towards each other. In this case, I’m the asshole that decided to harbor resentment towards this person and chose not to rebuild that bridge, so to speak. (The details of the situation are personal, and between that person and myself. I hope y’all don’t mind that I just keep that private). In any case, this person decided to reach out to me yet again and this time I decided to attempt to mend the bridge. It didn’t work. When you have two architects that want the bridge to be built two different ways and neither wants to listen to each other then you end up with no progress in construction. I reflected a very long time and stayed awake through the late hours of the night journaling and thinking about the situation as a whole. In the end, I decided that it was time to let this person go because they did not seem like they were going to be a supporting presence in my life journey. The ramifications of my decision are going to stay with me for the rest of my life, but sometimes we have to make difficult decisions and be able to live with them.
Now, here is a little background in this particular relationship in order to hopefully gain some context into how difficult it can be to just let someone go. For the sake of ease, we will call this person Bob. I’ve known Bob for basically my whole life. Bob was the kind of person that a little Korean boy looked up to when growing up with little to no parental presence and only an older sister. Basically, any older boy that was part of my parent’s social circles was an idol to me. They were my role models growing up. Bob was a guy that I would see a lot of and thought of him as someone I could aspire to be like. The thing about growing up with little interaction from my parents is that there was not a lot of praise, affirmation or satisfaction of gaining the approval of my parents. Now, don’t get me wrong, as I grew up I understood the struggles that my parents went through to provide for my sister and I, but it definitely was at a cost. Anyway, when you grow up in that sort of situation, you strive to seek the approval of others, especially the ones you look up to. Bob would do things that I thought were cool and that I wanted to do. He taught me how to shoot a basketball, got me into computers and technology, video games, music, cars and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All of these are things that I still hold interest in today; so you can sort of see the sort of impact. In most of my twenties, I was still seeking out some sort of instruction or path in my life and started to seek that sort of direction from Bob. At a certain point though, I think we all are seeking a direction and trying out different personas in that journey we all go through in figuring out who they are as a person. I feel like there comes a time for everyone where they finally stop following, and start to find themselves. Some people start paving their own way early and some continue to try out different lives far into their lives. Bottom line, you never know when you become and “adult,” but I feel it’s when you are comfortable in making life decisions own your own. This brings me to the falling out.
Growing up, we look up to people for instruction and approval that the decisions we make are the right decisions. That when you have no direction, you follow someone you trust, like a best friend’s advice or a significant others decision making abilities and support. At a certain point you no longer agree with the direction you’re following and the decisions you want to make are no longer supported by certain relationships and people. Simply, Bob’s life is going one way and he wants me to be apart of it, but my life is going in a different direction and though I know that Bob would continue to support me I unfortunately don’t see it as a fruitful type of relationship. The bridge between Bob and I is broken and I decided that it is not a fruitful endeavor to try to mend it. We have just become two different people with two different lives. Bob has made a wonderful life. He has a wife, two kids and I’m told a third on the way, but he has also chosen the people that he would like to keep in his life. Like Bob, I have chosen the people I would like in my life. Unfortunately, relationships work both ways with both parties being in agreement of that partnership. If only one side wants to continue but the other chooses not to, then that relationship fades into the ether.
I am fully aware and with sound body and sound mind that there are large ramifications to ending this specific relationship. Some relationships don’t harbor as much of a burden, but this one in particular will sit with me for a long time. It will be weird when I chose not to go to functions that Bob and his family are at, though if I am forced I will be cordial and polite. I can already hear the backlash, “What do you mean you don’t want to see Bob?! Don’t you want to see your niece and nephew?!” Oh did I mention that Bob is a cousin of mine? Surprise! Matter of fact, I will probably receive backlash from this particular post, but like I said above, I am fully awake of the ramifications. I don’t believe in the social construct of keeping family around just because they are family. After all, I have friends from other families that know me incredibly better than my own immediate family. There are thousands of people that don’t have relationships with parts of their family for the rest of their lives. You are, whom you surround yourself with and in most cases people surround themselves with others that support each other in a positive way. In a manner that is beneficial to all parties.
All in all, I believe it’s healthy to be able to identify when somebody is holding you back or when a relationship becomes toxic and in turn it takes a certain amount of courage to make a decision to cut that person out of your life. To give yourself permission to continue your journey without that person because sometimes that person just doesn’t fit into your life anymore, but, that doesn’t ever change the fact that they made an impact on your life. That person is still going to be in your life story, they’re just in the early chapters that helped build the foundation for the character you become. I’m grateful for the impact that Bob made in my life in shaping me into the person I am today and I will cherish the memories, but that is all Bob will be for me for the rest of my life. Is that selfish of me? Think about an intimate relationship you’ve had with somebody and one day you get dumped. Was that selfish of them? I’ve been dumped and been the dumper. Both ends suck, but I’m sure at some point, both parties part ways and continue on their lives. Whether it was a good or bad breakup, we continue our lives with that relationships’ memory in the back of our minds. That persons’ memory continuing to impact the decisions we make in the present and pave ways for the future. This is how we can grow personally. Respecting and understanding the past, using it to make decisions in the present, and to help structure the future because if you linger on the past, you miss out on living in the present and your story becomes a cliffhanger.