I’d like to think of myself as a fairly loyal friend. Growing up with a non-verbal learning disability, meant that making friends has not always been easy for me, which is maybe why I work hard to maintain these relationships as I develop them.
Recently, I’ve experienced the end of a friendship. If I’m honest with myself, this was probably more of an acquaintanceship. This relationship — whatever it was — ended via text message. I was not expecting this person’s response to one of my texts about when she might like to reschedule a recent dinner plan. One message became many more, and when it became clear that maybe emotions were getting misconstrued through these texts, I wondered if talking in-person would help. No such luck. I will say that this individual never actually said that our friendship is over, but her responses and then lack of responses, made things done for me.
I was surprised by some of the things that she said, noting times that she told me about others who did similar things, but never making any parallels to my choices. Maybe though I should not be surprised. If she was talking about others to me, would it not seem likely that she was talking about me to others? Is this really a friend that I want? It’s this final question that makes me think a lot about school. Learning to make friends is hard at all grade levels, and learning to keep them, might be even harder. Sometimes learning when to step away is an even bigger challenge. I feel as though it was recently that I learned this final lesson.
During this upcoming school year, as we navigate friendships with our students, maybe this summertime experience will help me empathize more with kids. Do we need to experience some of our own struggles to help understand the struggles that students might also be experiencing? I think my life will better without this friend/acquaintance and the drama that she brought with her, but letting go was not an easy thing to do. Sometimes we need to realize that we deserve better. This was my time to realize that.