Some things are harder to let go of, than others. Some things mean more to us than we let on.

Take some of these social media friendships, for instance. I deliberately call them ‘social media’ friendships; not because they mean less to me than the ‘real world’ friendships, but because they’re different.

On social media, people’s true selves are sometimes on display, abhorrently so. At other times, we hear of them in whispered half-truths and in unkind sly tweets.

For the longest time, I tried to let go of these friendships with a sort of shrug and an ‘I-don’t-think-it-really-made-a-difference’ toss of the head. But the truth is that’s never the case.

Some of us invest a whole lot into relationships. We pour so much of ourselves into them that we have barely anything left over for the others in our lives. Then, we hear those unkind things those people have said and feel both betrayed and anxious.

How much of what I’ve shared with these people is now safe?

There it is, that underlying sense of nameless dread.

So when it comes to emptying the cabinet of angst we have bottled up over the months or weeks, it’s harder than we think possible. It’s not as simple as opening the drawers and throwing out those old letters. We take out each piece of stationery, hold it up to our chest, pause and think of all the wonderful emotions we felt when we wrote those words. A part of us wants to hold on to the memory of that friendship more than the friendship itself.

Maybe there’s hope yet, a voice whispers. Don’t throw it away. Talk it over.

As someone who doesn’t know how to talk to people who’ve hurt her in the past, this is a wasted exercise. So I end up doing one of two things: Throwing out the stationery or stuffing it back in the corner of the cabinet where I won’t see it for another year or more.

The hardest thing to do? To smile and carry on as if nothing has changed. Especially harder to do in the virtual world, when your paths are likely to cross everyday.

I could, of course, just bite the bullet and confront the people responsible and ask them straight out, “Why did you have to say that about me? And if you felt that way, why couldn’t you say it to me instead of saying it out loud on a public platform? Is that all that our friendship meant to you?”

But I am afraid; not because I’m worried about what it might do to the friendship, but because I’m afraid that the truth will be too painful to acknowledge.

The only other option is to let go- throw out all the angst, the hurt, the pain and the grief and mixed with it, all the joy, the fun, the smiles and the happiness.

One can’t exist without the other. And maybe it shouldn’t either.

4 thoughts on “Release

  1. I like your use of social media friendships. They are definitely a different sort. It’s a good insight that the sour comes along with the sweet. Hope you can find a balance.

  2. You definitely capture the good and bad of virtual relationships here. I’ve developed some wonderful relationships online but they seem to be the exception. Too many people seem to lean into the anonymity to say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face, and others struggle because the space takes away our ability to fully communicate (facial expressions, body language, tone). It really is so hard.

  3. Relationships are hard. Virtual relationships are often harder because you only have written words to go on (mostly), and not the nuances of facial expressions or tiny body language cues that let you know how the other person is interpreting what you’re saying. Navigating those online relationships can be extremely difficult, but (for myself) I’ve found that being radically vulnerable elicits the best results. If I’m subtweeted and I think what’s being said applies to me, I own up to it and take steps to be better.

    But I’m also aware that sometimes people see a particular behaviour in more than one of their friends. They may post a status update that applies to me, but it might also apply to others. They may not have spoken directly to me because I may not be the only one who’s done [whatever thing they’re commenting on], and it’s more efficient to post a general, widely applicable status so that everyone on their friends list can see it, and everyone it applies to can read it.

    Regardless, radical vulnerability – opening myself up and owning up to whatever behaviour they’ve seen -is scary but cathartic for me, and also gives the other person space to forgive me.

    Virtual relationships are hard.

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