I've been kind of neglecting posting lately, instead using self-portrait Tuesday as an excuse not to actually write something in this space. I have been enjoying putting together visual images, but it's not really why I wanted to create this space for myself. I may post something photography related over the weekend, but I might just skip this last week altogether. Perhaps it's for the best for now.
I wanted to write about something that has happened in my life recently that is very personal and very difficult for me, and that has given me cause to pause. This week, I made a decision to walk away from a very close long-standing personal friendship, based on something this person did that I believe to be detrimental to herself, and indirectly, to me and our friendship. I won't go into details, of course, but this person is very dear to my heart, and I think our friendship is a bit more complicated than most in many ways, so it was a difficult decision, and it has made me quite sad.
Rather than going into reasons why I felt I had to walk away, I'd like to work through my feelings about the idea of unconditionality in regards to love and friendship. I think unconditionality is something that is extremely hard to reach. It's the idea that no matter what another person does, you will love them and support them. In the case with my friend, my love for her is absolutely unconditional. I will never stop loving her, no matter what, and although I don't feel I can be friends with her now, I will always cherish the friendship we had together, and I really feel that this is the best way for me to be her friend, which requires more explaining than I am willing to do here.
When do you stop loving someone? Is it when they are no longer interesting to you, when you don't feel any fire or passion for that person? Is it when they have done something that hurts you very much, or when they do something that is hurtful to someone else? Is it when they hurt themselves? I guess everyone has their personal dealbreakers, things they simply cannot tolerate from another person. But does that mean you can continue to love the person – love the sinner, hate the sin?
These questions are rolling around in my mind, mostly because I tried to be very clear with my friend that I haven't stopped loving her. I'm not sure if she understood that or not, but I hope so. I don't even love her any less. I do, however, feel that there are things I can't stand for, things I can't accept from another person. Some of these things have to do with harms I couldn't bear for myself, like physical abuse or emotional degradation, or lying. But others have to do more with my own personal moral code, and whether or not I can stand by and support someone whose behaviour is not in accordance with what I believe in. If, for instance, I had a friend whom I knew to be a criminal, I could not sustain the friendship anymore.
I guess what it comes down to for me is consistency of moral character, or integrity. It is the things I strive for in my own life everyday – to be exactly who I puport to be, to be myself and honest in every situation, to be true to my own definition and not act in ways that subvert my sense of who I am. I think integrity is something you can take to the bank in many ways – the emotional bank, that is. When someone does something that shows me they are other than what they say they are, I lose faith and trust in them. I just don't know how to reconcile that with the idea I have of who they are, who they have said they are, who they always have shown me they are in the past. And I begin to doubt myself, my choices, my sense of character. I begin to think of myself as naive, gullible, a chump. It's important to me that I be able to trust the people in my life to be who they say they are. In that way, when I find out something about someone that makes me question who they are, it makes me question everything about them, all their reasons for behaviours, and it makes me question myself.
I know I will always love my friend, even if we are never close again. I hope she is well, and that in time we are able to mend our shortcomings. I don't feel like I have put conditions on my love for her, but perhaps I have put conditions on our friendship. That makes me feel sad, because I never thought I would have to do that with her. But, as another very dear friend pointed out, the love I have is my own: It was never hers at all, it was always mine, always in my heart. And I will continue to have that love in my heart, and own it, and that will always make me happy.