A roaring group of friends, frantic booming voices talking over the music in a bar; small collectives in coffee shops, whispering the latest life news over the foam of their lattes. That video call ringtone and the pixelated face of your friend, far away but somehow right there with you. The texts throughout the day, little notes on messenger, blue bubbles of text calling out to you, all the while saying without saying, I’m thinking of you, I remember you, I value you.
Then there’s the clashes, the awkward heated silences, the angry words, the things which you can never take back. Sometimes there’s forgiveness, other times a strange fading figure of someone you thought you knew, turning into a warped hallucination before your eyes. Sometimes it’s a slow burning pain, seeping into the corners of your life, visceral and painful. Other times it goes unnoticed, until the person is gone, and all you’re left with are the difficult pieces they left behind.
We each have ways of coping with difficult friendships of our past or present. We push it away, believe that we can forget it, we sit in our bitterness, we talk about toxicity, as though that one word can summarise all of our hurt. We believe that we might start anew, this time with the right people in our life. We go into it fresh, seeing no flaws, then one day that pain hits us all over again, in new and awful ways.
If minimalism is about joy in the present, retaining the useful and removing that which doesn’t serve us anymore, then can we minimise the people in our lives? Many people seem to think so, with posts and articles written exploring the eradication of specific individuals as though we can donate them as easily as we would an old pair of shoes which we don’t like anymore.
Even people who no longer serve us cannot be treated in the way which we can treat things. A person feels in a way which a material item cannot. We must recognise the importance of creating a dialogue with someone, wherever possible. We must look at those difficult people in our lives and recognise ourselves in them, even when that seems impossible. After all of that, once we have, figuratively or literally, thanked the person for their time, we have to let them go in a way which serves us positively.
To take the time to properly move past a difficult friendship is important, not only for the other person but for yourself. To leave a difficult situation without bitterness and resentment is always the best possible outcome. To remember that people cannot be minimised from your life in the same way as things is an essential part of being human.
Please note: this article does not, and can not, provide guidance for those in abusive relationships with friends, family members, or partners. Please contact someone close to you, a charity, or an urgent service, if you are experiencing abuse (emotional and or physical).
Featured image: Nathan Dumalo via Unsplash.