Saturday, September 28, 2013

Letting Go (and Holding On) in the Land of Un-friending with a Click


Letting Go (and Holdng on) in the Land of Un-friending with a Click

"Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers

The Process

In a world where you can un-friend someone with a click. I have always been one to hold on.

I don’t like this space of deciding if people should be “kept” as friends. Is she still my friend? Is she in or out? I am sorry but you are not my friend anymore for these reasons….

What is that about? Should we really un-friend people?

Still, there it is- the strength in letting go. I say do it. Let go!

This letting go is not an un-friending of the person or people. They are on this earth doing what they need to do, on their paths. Sometimes that means they behave badly and you hurt. Sometimes it means there is space between you.

I say give them space.

If you have loved someone, been a friend—as Webster defines as:  one attached to another by affection (from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/friend). I see no point (outside of official abuse) at which you would say, “You are no longer my friend.”

Maybe I learned about this early because I had to- but once someone is in my heart- they are there. We may part ways, we may not walk the same path anymore. Still, I love you and you are my friend.

My Dad was in the Navy and we moved all of the time. My young life was lived in: Maine, Florida, California (a few places there- San Diego, San Ramon), Sicily (the island in Europe), Maryland, Rhode Island, Virginia, and New York. I had wracked up all of those places before I was 13. Across those years, I had many friends and said many good byes.

I learned- for better or worse- that letting people in meant that the goodbye would be painful. I also learned it was worth it. No matter how many times I moved, I let people in. I loved them. And it hurt like hell to say good-bye. I think that people who grow up in one place sometimes don’t get that until much later in life. I knew it early.

I know my way of being close isn’t like everyone else. Maybe a lot of military children are like me, I am not sure. I did not make it my area of research because it is just too close to home. I wrote one paper in grad school about mobility in childhood and it was not super promising—not horrible—but I knew I would spend my life studying something else. My way of being a friend is a work in progress. Having lived in Buffalo for almost 20 years now, I have learned that moving isn’t the only reason people drift from your life. Who knew?

I have also learned that being a friend, moving or not, comes from the heart. It is an intention and an enduring emotional state that involves love, affection, and support. In friendship, I have found that judgment has no real place. It is not effective in building intimacy and for promoting growth. It doesn’t make this world a better place.

In the processes of liking and not liking things on Facebook and friending and un-friending people, we have come it trivialize the complexities of true friendships as simple judgments that are as easy as a click. One click and they are gone- they are un-friended.

Yoga teaches us non-attachment. It does not teach us to be afraid to be close or to release friends as soon as they don’t behave exactly like you want them to.

Yoga it teaches us to be who we are and do the best we can and to not attach to the rest. 

We keep the friend

What we release is the need to sort people into a level of friendship category (see Google + circles) or to decide the bigger question—the to-friend or un-friend question.

No, no need for that. Just love. Let go of the judgment and be a friend, an enduring, loving, affectionate friend. Yeah, do that. 

Zuri’s Eyes: Loving Anyway

Zuri isn’t like me in so many ways. She is African American. I am Caucasian (English, Irish, German, and Welsh, and some suspect maybe a tiny bit Native American). I moved many, many times growing up and Zuri has lived in the same house her whole life. I grew up middle class and Zuri is poor. We are different in so many ways.

We share two things: (1) The Yoga Bag, of course, and (2) sensitive hearts.  It is why I know I can write about her even though we are so different.

Zuri doesn’t know what to do about a girl at school, not Emily or Jayla. She is working on them. There is another girl, Natasha. Natasha was the third. Their parents and teachers at school would always call them the three musketeers—Zuri, Emily, and Natasha. Natasha is still in school and still around, but they are not like they used to be. Natasha seems to think this is Zuri's fault and truth be told- Zuri has not been 100% the best friend a person could have all the time. She has struggled.

Somehow, she and Emily have always been able to re-connect. Sadly, things have not been the same with Natasha. Natasha has seemingly decided to un-friend Zuri. She stopped following Zuri on instagram and weird things like that. Zuri has tried to have heart-to-hearts with Natasha over the years. They’d feel close for a while and then things would fall back away. It seems that Natasha could not be close for one reason or another. And for Natasha, it has meant two things (1) it had to be Zuri's fault and (2) if it wasn't going to be how Natasha needed it to, they were not friends.

Zuri has spent time hurt, mad, struggling. She’s had long talks with Emily about it. She has even stayed up talking to her mom about it, which she tries to avoid- her mom is typically drinking too much after 7: 30 PM or so. But this weighed so on Zuri’s mind. She risked the drinking talks with her mom. FYI, those never go well.

She was attached. She was attached to the friendship being right, fixed, and okay. She was attached to Natasha not blaming her. She was attached to being accused and being un-followed or un-friended.

She read my notes- my journal (above) on friendship and letting go. It was hard to for her to get her head around (as it was for me).

“So,” she thought. “You don’t let friends go. You still love them and wish them well. You don’t need to be attached to their reactions, their blaming, and their stuff. You just love them. It’s like that compassion cushion thing…(see the last post).”

Zuri thought about how it is so much easier just to un-friend someone. To stop “following” them on instagram. It’s cleaner, neater, and easier to judge and drop them.

Yet, there was something appealing in the letting go of her reaction rather than her friend—someone for whom she has had enduring affection- like the definition.

Zuri decided to love Natasha and to keep Natasha as her friend. If someone’s asked, “Are you Natasha’s friend?” 

Zuri would respond, “Yes. I am Natasha’s friend.”

Zuri always thought about this stuff late at night when her mom was downstairs drinking and Eric was gone. I see her tonight, late, with The Yoga Bag. Books and notes scattered on her bed. I see her letting go of her reaction to Natasha and not letting go of Natasha.

And then it makes sense:

"Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
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