What happens when what you thought you knew about someone no longer remains true?
I recently considered the close relationship between a stranger and a friend and then wrote, “The friend who becomes a stranger”. This poem sought to discover what is the heart of the experience when after we have invited someone into our life as a friend we discover that they are really a stranger. This discovery unfolds as the relationship continues and the journey to being strangers is slowly recognised. This is usually a slow process. But, then at some point of internal crisis we can sometimes be jolted into asking, how did something that once felt deeply intimate transform into something that is the antithesis of love?
Friends becoming strangers is evident around us everyday. We have all witnessed and experienced the harsh words and inconsiderations in an intimate relationship that are the initial tearings leading to being strangers. These tears will start small but if left untended will extend to wounds that slowly rip through to the person’s heart. When they are allowed to become too deep then they will be fatal to the relationship. The result is that the friend is now a stranger and what was known is no longer known. What was intimate is now platonic.
When a friend becomes a stranger the woundedness that led to the current strangeness requires healing from someone able to be a friend. The stranger is not and cannot be the healer. The stranger relishes in creating uncertainty, taking, questioning, closing, weapons, distorting, selfishness and lies. Love, giving, trusting, openness, words, truth, sharing and intimacy are the signs of friendship and knowing each other’s personhood. A true friendship will heal and be renewing to each person’s soul.
I have discovered when we open ourselves to friendship with someone who is unable to return that friendship it’s important to guard my heart from further wounding that a stranger may or may not realise they are inflicting. The first step is now seeing the former friend as a stranger and recognising the stranger’s language. Healing doesn’t require a vindictive retaliation but the courage to know what has become and to accept that healing requires a different language that cannot be spoken by the stranger.
Finally there is an element of winsomeness in writing this poem. It came from a place where a goodbye was needed but choosing to do this was extremely difficult. I hope that from this sadness I will be a better friend.
The friend who becomes a stranger
Love transformed to uncertainty
Giving deciding to take
Trusting turning to questioning
Openness diminishing to closed
Words wielded as weapons
Truth distorting reality
Sharing together to selfishness
Intimacy divided by lies
A stranger no longer known.