I have two parents. Between those two parents, eight marriages have happened. I have four siblings that I am related to by blood, an extra set of grandparents that I got to keep, and a long list of step parents that I wish I couldn’t remember. With every new marriage came a new home and a new school. I went to four different schools in 2nd grade alone. I was good at saying goodbye. You don’t like my mom? Goodbye. My dad is too mean to you? Goodbye. You don’t like the pants I’m wearing? Goodbye. You chew loud? Goodbye.
For a long time, I thought every little difference of opinion meant that It was over. Friends, romantic interests, books, movies. If there was a part of anything I didn’t agree with, the whole offending article had to be removed. In my teens I realized what I was doing and started to strive for the opposite. I wouldn’t let people go no matter what. I clung to toxic people like I was drowning and they were my only hope. I refused to let go. I couldn’t let go of bad friends or abusers or anyone, because I wasn’t going to be like my parents. I was going to keep trying. If someone meant something to me once, that meant that they would mean something to me forever, goddamnit. I wouldn’t give up.
I’ve had a recent falling out with someone I thought I was very close with. Someone who I thought knew me well, but it turns out that they didn’t. I was (am still) so upset: tears, frustration, anger. How could they even think the bad things they said about me? I was so hurt and confused. Others told me: ‘Don’t worry. They’ll come around. They’ll get over it. They’ll come back.’ I hoped so. I waited. It hasn’t happened. I imagine conversations a lot, taking them different places, towards different endings. I can pretend things are happening and then feel out my reactions and my emotions. This morning, I thought about the person apologizing. ‘I’m sorry I said those things,’ my friend said to me, ‘Can we be friends again?’ My imaginary answer surprised me.
Because the truth is that we are all constantly changing so much. We don’t have to be together forever. And I don’t have to keep people in my life who are bad for me, or who think I am bad. This feels good.