Let’s get one thing out of the way: You are the only person guaranteed to be in your life forever. It’s one of those unsettling thoughts that we all know but just shove to the side, because who really wants to think about that? But it’s true. People will move, grow apart, and inevitably pass away. It’s not fun, but it’s a fact of life. Thus, it only makes sense that throughout our lifetimes there will be many people who only last a chapter or two in the novels of our lives.
I want to focus on the ones who left your novel willingly—that best friend who randomly stopped talking to you or the lover who decided they weren’t in love with you anymore—the type of separation that leaves you feeling like you lost a limb in the most insulting way. You may be left questioning what went wrong, what you could have done differently, all the while holding on to this bitter resentment that they decided you were no longer worth their time.
Most of the time, we deal with this loss the best way we know how to: “It’s their loss anyway. If they wouldn’t stick around, they’re obviously not a good friend. I’m better off without them.” The list of toss-to-the-side statements goes on. But we obviously don’t feel this way! We cherished the presence of this person so much, and now there’s a gaping void in our lives where they used to be.
I’m writing this to remind you that there is a better way to deal with this loss: Decide on why this person was in your life. Their exit, no matter how painful, does not take away whatever it was they brought to your life. Even if they were a horrible person, what did their horribleness teach you? Or maybe they were spectacular! How did that add to your life? Did it inspire you to live similarly? Did they introduce you to a new passion or connect you to a new person? Think about it for a while.
The reasons go on and on. The point is—this is your story, and it is continuing with or without them. Where do you want it to go? I’m truly sorry this character didn’t play as lasting of a role as you would have liked, but now that they’re gone—what next? How did they add to your overall theme; what lessons did they teach you?
Even if you’ve wracked your brain and cannot find a single positive thing that came from them, accept it. Move on. We are all on our own journeys and can’t possibly stay in everyone’s lives. As sad as it may be, it is the way it is. You only have so much energy in life: Spend it on the people and things that matter—and most importantly, spend it on yourself.
You’re all you’ve got—and you’ve got more chapters to write.