I’m not sure I know how to miss people the right way.
Surfing the waves of relational transition doesn’t come naturally to me. There are a lot of reasons for this, but for starters, I’m just not particularly fond of this kind of change.
I’ve written countless blogs about this aversion, and yet these changes keep coming. To be fair, I’ve engineered some massive changes myself, but those have come with gritted teeth and lots of heartache, despite some clear callings.
Relational transition isn’t my favorite because I like people and I want to be friends forever. Oh, and also, it’s just plain awkward.
Five months ago my family and I moved to Boise. The transition hasn’t been 100 percent flawless, but it has been really good–better than we could’ve possibly predicted. We love our house and neighborhood, have settled into a nice schedule rhythm, plugged into a fantastic church and forged foundations for some very promising friendships.
Moving on/moving forward is a lot like a breakup. Not necessarily a bad breakup, but a breakup nonetheless.
Being in Boise now it’s as if I was in a very long term relationship with a girl, and then eventually, things ended. There wasn’t a big blow up or a fight or even irreconcilable differences; it just ended.
We hugged and hugged and cried and sobbed and laughed and reminisced through old love notes and photographs and memories.
And then we just said goodbye. Kind of.
This girl and I will always see each other at holidays. Our social circles are so overlapped that total avoidance is impossible (not that I’d ever want that). She is still my Facebook friend. She follows me on Instagram and even texts me from time to time.
We are just friends. And she will always hold a special place in my heart–perhaps one that cannot be replaced–but of course, there’s someone else.
The relationship is new and exciting. I’m finding out different things about her every day, and it seems like she’s really into me, too. We are committed to a long-term something, and from the looks of it, there’s a lot to be excited about in the future together.
But what about the ex? I mean, to even call her that reduces her importance in my life these days. She’s a valued friend. She owns my history and knows me like no one else. I cannot and will not cut her off because to do so would be cruel to both of us.
So when we do talk, she always asks about the new girl.
“How are things going?”
I almost feel guilty saying I’m happy, that there’s been a lot of confirmation that she’s the one for me, that things are going really well, and that I’m glad I made the decision I did.
Because I can hear the hurt in her voice as she says, “Good for you.”
She doesn’t always say it that way; sometimes it’s completely joy-filled and genuine. But those moments when the hurt is there makes me generally cautious as to my response.
I experienced this in a slightly different way more than two years ago when we transitioned out of our longtime church community as I took a position as a worship leader at a new congregation in the area.
There, the breakup seemed a little more complicated, because while I believed I was supposed to be in this new relationship, I wasn’t happy or even comfortable in it, and I wanted things to go back to how they were.
“How are things going?” the ex would ask.
“OK. I miss you.” I’d say, watching the ex nod with this look of “it was your decision, bro.”
That’s not the case now, with this most recent change. I’m happily involved with this new thing, but it doesn’t mean that even in the healthiest of breakups there isn’t some jealousy.
Sometimes when I see people moving on, I feel good about it. I’m happy to see some things we started continue to exist, thrive and create community. I’m happy to see God found a replacement for me in various areas where I had influence.
Other times, if I’m being honest, there’s this selfish tinge of, “I can’t believe they’ve moved on. I can’t believe they’ve kept it together without me. I can’t believe they’re thriving!”
It’s absurd. It’s stupid, especially given the fact that I dish out the same perspective from my end.
Breakups are messy.
And the proper perspective comes to me when I look away from my ex’s Facebook feed and look instead at my new relationship, who is busy making plans for our next adventure together.
Maybe all of this is in my head. Maybe it’s not a big deal to people that I’m doing well–or TOO well–in my new environment, and that I’m being oversensitive (or projecting my own insecurities onto them).
But change is hard. And positive change might even be more difficult, because it carries trigger points of our own insecurities–that we weren’t enough in a particular situation, that we weren’t the answer or even important.
All that baggage aside, I still think of the old girl. I miss her, but for different reasons now. And I know that in time, we’ll have this deep, sweet friendship where we’ll be able to talk about the love in our lives without there being this pain of what was and what could’ve been.
I think we’re on our way there. But for now, I’m still learning how to miss her.