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Healing is Hard, Healing is Hopeful

By April 22, 2024Blog

In this heartfelt anonymous blog post, we’re invited into a deeply personal journey of healing following the loss of a cherished friendship. As we reflect on the experiences shared nine months later, we bravely delve into an open letter penned to ourselves – a poignant exercise in self-reflection aimed at navigating the waves of grief that resurface during anniversaries and significant milestones. 

Journaling on a healing journey offers numerous benefits, including emotional release by providing a safe outlet for processing difficult experiences, self-reflection to gain insight into thoughts and feelings, and clarity to understand challenges and strengths. It also helps track progress, celebrate successes, and identify areas for improvement, enhancing motivation and resilience. Additionally, journaling promotes problem-solving, stress reduction, and empowerment as individuals take ownership of their healing process and recognize their capacity for growth. Overall, it provides a structured and introspective tool for navigating personal healing, fostering self-discovery, emotional well-being, and empowerment.

At Give an Hour, we recognize that individuals may need to use numerous tools on their mental health journey.  Journaling is one that we wholeheartedly support as it complements various therapeutic approaches and empowers individuals to actively engage in their healing process. As we delve into this narrative during the National Month of Hope, these words offer solace and inspiration for anyone traversing their own path toward healing and self-discovery. 


April 22nd. Today is a day burned into my memory. I didn’t need Facebook reminders or calendar updates to remember that today is your birthday. I remembered because I can’t forget. Just one of the thousands of tidbits of information, like your favorite ice-cream is strawberry, you like birthday cake with fondant, but not chocolate cake because it’s too heavy. That you once broke your collarbone when a bunch of kids piled on you at a sleepover. That the crispness of your “R’s” when you say the word “Tricky” makes me laugh in ways I can’t forget. That your favorite movie is Back to the Future. That when you learn something new that excites you, you immerse yourself in it and make detailed notes, which you store on your computer so that you can commit it to memory.

Pixels that piece together to paint a picture of you in my mind. Inconsequential facts that remind me that once, you were my best friend in the world. That, once, we knew everything there is to know about one another.

Today, I sit here with conflicting thoughts, wondering if I should text Happy Birthday to someone I’ve tried my hardest to forget and move on from. A relationship that has caused me immeasurable pain. A person I lashed out at because I felt helpless, angry, hurt, and ignored after weeks of screaming into darkness. Someone I know deep down, there may never be a resolution for.

I wonder what today might be like for you? Happiness at spending the day with your friends, nostalgia-tinted sadness at the realization that you’re getting older. A creeping existential crisis. We have so little time. Our dreams slowly slip away like grains of sand through an hourglass. We all grow older – we all have less and less time, and we’re never as far along in life as we hoped we would be. And underneath it all, we’re just people searching to experience something that makes us feel alive.

When I think of you on days like today, I feel a tempest of feelings; it’s why I do my best to push away and bury those thoughts the second they begin to rise. Despite everything we’ve been through, I still feel deep, unexplainable love for a person who, for four years, meant the absolute world to me. I feel unyielding pain for what we had, messed up, and then lost. I feel anger and bitter resentment for the ways I abandoned myself to preserve our friendship. I feel sadness for still missing you despite all of that. I feel regret for the impulsive ways I reacted and behaved in an attempt to soothe my suffering. I feel conflicted about what any of it meant.

You were my best friend. Someone I treasured, someone I trusted, someone I believed in, someone I hoped for. Someone who changed me so profoundly that I’m now a stranger to myself. I’m not just mourning the loss of you, but the loss of myself before you. I am not the same person. I’m altered.

I never got the chance to talk through things with you. When things finally ended, I had to learn that “closure” is an illusion. Closure is something that you can only give to yourself, and a big part of it is accepting that resolution may always feel just out of reach.

If we did have the chance to talk, I’m sure your response might be, well, you chose to walk away! Did I? Did I want to? No. I loved you. Did I have to for self-preservation? Yes. Perhaps it’s that simple acknowledgment, that finally gave me the closure I was searching for.

I had to learn to forgive myself. I had to learn that it’s not my job to “fix” everything. I had to learn that wanting to save a relationship doesn’t mean it can or should be saved. As I kept striving to micromanage every detail of this conflict, I came to the realization that the truly significant aspects were simply beyond my influence. Months of stonewalling. Messages that went unread, voice notes that went unheard, letters that went unanswered. You know what I realized? You and I could talk to one another about anything… what we couldn’t do was communicate.

Nothing could have prepared me for the mental anguish of trying to heal from someone who leaves you in unresolved silence. Of laying in bed at night, with truly terrifying thoughts ricocheting against the sharp angles and frayed edges of your fracturing mind as you reach for anything to escape the pain you feel. Trapped in questioning thoughts day after day, wondering what it is that you did that made you deserve this? Wondering if you’re the problem. Wondering if you’re to blame. Questioning your self-worth while the world around you sleeps soundly.

What shocked me was my ability to continue on. It’s wild to be processing grief but having to continue on with everyday life as if everything is normal and for the sake of those around you who need you to show up. I can’t tell you how hard that’s been. It made me feel so alone.

I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I want to forgive you. I want to forgive you more than anything. But the truth is, it’s hard to forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive someone who fails to acknowledge their mistakes. So for now, I won’t forgive you. I don’t think I need to. It’s through my journey of healing that I learned that. I learned that healing is hard. Healing is painful. Healing is a slow and arduous process that is actually all about you, and not really about the other person. It’s days of crying while you’re folding laundry, it’s days of choosing loneliness over the people who hurt you. It’s the grief of standing firm on the decisions you made in your highest good knowing it may not be the thing that you want. It’s accepting that in their story, you’re the bad guy. It’s the cognitive dissonance that comes when your brain tries to do the absolute most to convince you to go back. It’s learning how to create boundaries without building walls. It’s showing up for yourself in the ways you showed up for everyone else. It’s the moment when you recognize how limited your self-awareness was until life’s experiences granted you an unofficial Ph.D. in psychotherapy. It’s growth – beautiful and painful as you dig deeper than you thought possible to kintsugi yourself back together, broken pieces soldered together with gold.