Anyone Can Abandon Me

A couple of weeks ago I caught myself worrying about whether one of my closest friends will abandon me. I have mentioned this friend on this blog a lot over the past year. I read some of her poetry before she submitted it; she took me out to dinner in DC when she visited; together, we’ve talked about how we feel about our friends, we’ve eaten Jeni’s ice cream, and we’ve shared our hopes for the future as well as for our friendship.

What is this friend and I break up? I thought to myself a couple of weeks ago. What if she changes and becomes more man-obsessed? These thoughts did not feel all that irrational, given how much we prioritize heteronormative monogamous romance in contemporary society, as well as my past experiences with friends who started to prioritize men. I noticed these thoughts, and some minor feelings of worry, crop up at random times: when she shared her feelings about one of her other friends on one of our Skype calls, during my drive on my way to therapy, in the evening, after a day of research, as I sat down and drafted an outline of this post.

dinner at daikaya hehe

Ok check out this iconic dinner my friend and I got at Daikaya in DC! This is only a snapshot of the dishes we ate. #food #sustenance #foodandfriendshipovermen

I first tried to logic my way through it. This friend has such a strong sense of self and such high yet not cocky self-esteem, I thought to myself, she would never lose herself to a man. I compared her to the few friends I have had who prioritized men. I made mental notes, tracking how this friend has more consistent hobbies than some of my past friends, how she and I have had explicit conversations about prioritizing one another, how we have never gotten into a serious fight or argument because we align so well and have taken steps to prevent that type of conflict.

At some point though, maybe in between a tennis point or after a jog to BlackPink’s “Boombayah,” I faced it: Thomas, this is literally all your fear of being abandoned. I sat with this emotion of fear, and I felt it, the twist in my gut that comes with knowing no matter how empathetic, or social justice-oriented, or self-aware I may be, no matter how much I invest in this friendship, I could be abandoned. It made me think of someone I know who got engaged to her boyfriend after less than two years of dating him, how that path – the dating, the engagement, the marriage, etc. – can provide such a comfortable reassurance, this society and state-sanctioned form of commitment, a notion that this person will never, ever leave.

But there is no guarantee. Divorce happens. Death happens. People change. It feels both terrifying and freeing to acknowledge that no matter what, any relationship, and potentially every relationship, will cause me some pain. Every relationship will inevitably end.

Sometimes I remind myself that I could avoid all of this pain by closing my heart. If I never opened myself up to anyone, I would never, ever have to get hurt, ever. And I acknowledge that, if I closed my heart, I would also lose out on what makes my life the most worth living: human connection, human relationships. Because even my relationships that have ended brought me so much joy. I remember feeling safe and cared for when my grandmother laughed as I played with her pink floral scarf as a toddler. I remember obsessing about a cuteish Harvard boy with my former therapist, then how hard my therapist grinned when I told him that I had asserted my needs and blocked the boy on my phone. I remember giggling with one of my former friends until it hurt, until we felt out of breath, about pornography and our tastes in men, lying on opposite sections of her worn, comfy couch. All these relationships may be over, yet the feelings of warmth they elicit stay with me to this very day, this very moment.

I’m committed to opening my heart, even though it hurts. Later today I’m talking with one of my bffs Bri, who I spent the past weekend with in Seattle, and I’m probably going to cry to her because I’m feeling really moody right now. On Sunday I’m Skyping with another one of my bffs, the one I mention at the beginning of this post, and we have so much to debrief on tbh. And I have a trip scheduled with both of these friends on my birthday this year, so I can celebrate the heck out of these friendships as I turn 25 on May 25th.

I have no idea what will happen with these friends, whether we’ll be friends forever, for the next ten years, for the next ten months. So I’m breathing in the now, the sweet, warm love these friends give me and I give them. I’m sending gratitude up to the sky for my grandmother, who taught me the importance of love, the first person to ever do so.

playing with the queen cat

Check out Bri’s iconic cat! I played with her at 6am while listening to “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls on repeat. Honestly her ferocious attack of this toy reminds me of the ferocity in which I want to demolish the cishet white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Reactions to this post? How do you cope with fears of abandonment or relational struggles and concerns overall? As I’m about to post this I recognize that people abandoning you and relationships ending are not necessarily the same; I’ve had several relationships that ended (some in positive ways too, like with my former therapist) in which I or the other person weren’t abandoned necessarily. Anyway gonna go be a therapist, listen to “no tears left to cry” by Ari to feel my feelings, then talk to Bri bye! I will respond to comments on my most recent post soon.

8 Comments

Filed under Personal

8 responses to “Anyone Can Abandon Me

  1. Amy

    I think a little bit is about loving yourself and doing the practice of reminding yourself that you are a worthy, competent, amazing person independent of the connections or relationships you may or may not have. And, when you reflect on the experiences and past relationships that have brought you so much joy, realizing that you are a person who is able to feel gratitude instead of sadness at endings, and that’s commendable, and you have permission to feel proud of yourself. As I sometimes like to say, “don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers; grow your own garden.”

    • Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment and I’m so grateful for this reminder about tending my own garden. I actually have outlined a post that’s literally based on this concept of self-love and tending to one’s garden – look out for it in the next couple of weeks and thank you for inspiring it. I’m grateful for our e-friendship here and on Goodreads!

  2. A good attitude – we DON’T know what will happen next, and some friendships I’ve had have been lost then come back. I love the idea of attacking the patriarchy with the ferocity of a cat with a toy, although not sure I will be them dumping the soggy, tailless patriarchy on someone’s keyboard as my girl-cat Willa dumps her mouse for retrieving practice! I love how you’re working not to undermine your current friendships by worrying about them ending, even if you’re tempted to: well done on that.
    I have a load of long, long friendships now and we go in and out of intimacy in them, and support flows one way then the other. One of the joys of getting older, actually, is having these really long relationships even as we all change.

    • Thank you Liz for understanding to some extent, I think, how trauma influences me and my approach to relationships and commending my efforts to work on myself and maintain healthy relationships with myself and others. (: Love this notion of friendships going out and then coming back, at this point I think I may be too young to see the coming back stage yet I’m hoping that will happen at some point. Also, happy birthday to one of my favorite humans, thank you for your consistent e-support and friendship, it means so much to me.

      • Thank you for the birthday message! And yes, agreed: in my case, my upbringing lost me the chance to practise making proper deep friendships as a) no one was happy coming to my family home and b) I didn’t get enough human interaction of the normal type to understand how it worked. I’m still very reticent about making new friendships because of that.

  3. Sorry Thomas for being late ….

    I’m not an expert on relationships – it’s probably one of my weak points. I don’t want to be hurt so I close people off sometimes. In terms of abandonment, I learned that you should just focus on the things that you can control. If you’re doing everything you can to making the relationship healthy and sustainable, listening to your friend / partner, providing support – then that’s all you can do.

    I also want to add that thanks to the picture of your meal, you made me check out the menu at Daikaya!

    • No need to apologize! Always appreciate your perspective whenever I may get the opportunity to be blessed by it. (: Thanks for sharing about how approach relationships and not wanting to be hurt. I feel grateful for the reminder about focusing on what you can control. And haha glad to hear you checked out hte menu at Daikaya. Hope you are well!

  4. Pingback: Growing My Own Garden | the quiet voice

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