Friendship and Pain

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The sun had barely awakened the new day; its first efforts to bring light back from beyond the night had only just begun, but I had been unable to settle down to sleep since just before dawn the day before. My heart and mind were heavy with an inner turmoil, suffering from an enduring doubt, and a persistent heartache that would reappear each time I opened my eyes, even after an abundance of nearly sleepless nights, filled only by a relentless repetition of tossing and turning. The memories of a life lived, of dreams forsaken, and of hope renewed, only to be stolen from me at the height of its promised return, filled my inner world as I endured my deeper thoughts alone; miles away from everything that had come to matter to me.

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The light that had sparked this hope appeared at a time of desperate emptiness, when I was feeling as though I might survive, but not thrive. Held fast in that place by a twist of fate, I had no expectation at all that my abundant thoughts and feelings might find their voice, and as I lay exhausted in the early light of a new day, I reflected on my human frailty, prone as we are to characteristically human drives, weaknesses, and tendencies. I dragged my battered heart and mind out of my bed, casting a backwards glance at the unmade bed, and saw the very emptiness and disheveled disarray that was my life.

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Sometimes, when your life feels like it is falling apart, a close friend may be all that stands between you and despair. But, when a cherished and close friendship falls apart, whatever else might be happening in your life may suddenly not seem to matter so much.

Usually, there’s no single reason for such a friendship to fall apart. After all, close friendships only happen when there are multiple layers of commonality and affection between two people. Even when you have a bad argument with a close friend, you know that you won’t be angry with them for long. After the dust settles, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is talk to them and make it right again. You may even wonder to yourself, how it was even possible to be so upset in the first place.

Life is not only about just one thing. It is possible, at times, to live our lives in a routine way–almost by instinct–when the days don’t contain anything that rises to a particular level of strength one way or the other, and for a long time, we can almost sleepwalk through them; blissfully unaware that anything might be wrong. But then, when we aren’t expecting it, life can take a turn, for better or worse, and we can either find ourselves in the grips of great joy, or suddenly standing alone, with no idea which way to turn next.  At times like these, the people who matter most in our lives can make all the difference in the world to us. This is when that close friendship really counts. But what do you do, when it’s that close friendship that takes a turn for the worse?

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As the story unfolded, it became clearer that my heart and mind were struggling badly to work through the chaos and the confusion of what had become a vital part of me, calling for some sort of drastic re-evaluation and some attempt at resolution. Never before had I been so intensely compelled by my heart, and so resolutely restrained by my mind. The tug-of-war within me came to a standstill. The longings in my heart were formidable, but the restraints imposed by circumstances could not be overcome. In desperation, I called for a truce–what was needed was intimate diplomacy.

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After a long struggle, I managed to get my heart and mind to the negotiating table. There they sat, arms folded, silent, staring at each other across the table. I began to attempt opening a dialog between them. My logical, methodical, and eminently pragmatic mind made several quite reasonable statements and salient points on the side of stability and propriety. My emotional, spontaneous, and notoriously intrepid heart, threw caution to the wind, advocating a campaign of reckless abandon and unbridled indulgence of desire. Rollicking heated argument ensued.

The terms I offered in mediation were met with skepticism by my mind, and with impatience by my heart. Negotiations seemed to be breaking down, and all my attempts at mitigating the circumstances seemed unlikely at best.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, my mind was a little more rested and relaxed than it had been in a while, and in a moment of compassion, my heart made an overture to my mind regarding a possible cease-fire. While my mind listened patiently, my heart spoke to two areas of mutual agreement. The first was an acknowledgement of deeply felt and clearly present affection. Although this was primarily the domain of the heart, its existence was indisputable. My mind recognized this aspect of my heart’s argument, and agreed that it was genuine and enduring.

The second point of agreement was the certainty of a profound sense of connection to a kindred spirit, perhaps, even a soul-mate, potentially brought together for some great purpose as yet undetermined. My mind concurred that the connection was real, and while reserving judgment as to the precise nature of it, wholeheartedly embraced the definitive nature of the connection, suggesting further exploration of it. Encouraged by this progress, my heart motioned for a declaration of affection, calling it, “…a reasonable consequence of our recent attainment of a consensus.”

My mind was impressed by the wisdom and the skillful analysis presented by my heart, but countered with a reminder to the heart of the recent change in the frequency of encounters with this kindred spirit, and of the character of the few that had occurred in recent times. My mind asked that these factors by considered in the preparation of the declaration. My heart consented.

….next time…..The Declaration of Affection…

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