Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Unresolved: That Uncomfortable In-Between Place

 I’m unresolved. Much like anger or elation, unresolved is an emotional state. It takes energy. It distracts me from being present. It is a niggling, uncomfortable state. It’s not there all the time, but when it shows up it is strong and clear.

Almost a year ago I lost a friend. She didn’t die or move away. She just became lost to me. We were friends for thirty years and then one day we weren’t. It’s like she went on a boat and never returned. She’s okay. She’s still friends with our other friends, but she’s lost to me. I don’t understand why she decided to stop being my friend and this confusion eats away at me. I have so many questions.

I am unresolved. What do I mean by unresolved? There is a sense of loss, the feeling of longing. And confusion. Because of the way our friendship so nebulously ended I have no clarity. Maybe I would feel resolved if I knew she was really gone. But she’s still here, just a few miles from my house. There’s a term in psychology — ambiguous loss. I think that’s what I’m experiencing here. I am in a confused, delayed state of grieving. There was no closure with this friend, no clarity and so I am unresolved.

Several times a week I think about calling my friend but I know she won’t respond. I’ve tried reaching out numerous times and she hasn’t reciprocated. So I don’t call or text. The impulse just sits there reminding me that I am unresolved. I haven’t let this friend go.

My unresolved feelings are like an in-between place, a bookmark between the comfort of our friendship and the sadness of its definite end. I’m frustrated because this lack of resolution is lasting a long time. It’s been months and I still dream regularly about seeing my friend. I still have her phone number in my head. I have so much anger about how she dropped me like a rotten banana in the compost. I’m unresolved.

Part of being unresolved is focusing on the other person. I wonder so many things: Is she happy?; Does she miss me too?; Is she unresolved? In focusing on what my former friend is thinking I am prolonging this state that I am in. I am wrapped up in my ego — worried about how she and other people see me —  instead of my own experience with the loss. 

To come to a resolution with this friendship, to actually grieve the loss, I have to throw all that other stuff out the window. I have to let go of what my former friend thinks about me, what she is telling our other friends about me. That’s the hard part. Once I let go of all that other stuff I will have to enter the true grief state of this loss and that makes me too sad.

Strangely, it helps to just have a name for this state that I’m in. I’m unresolved. I’m not happy, not sad, just somewhere in between. It feels comforting to define that. At least I know where I am. And it helps to remember the good things about our friendship. Too often I just feel anger when I think of my friend. Maybe that’s why she comes to me in my dreams. Maybe that is a subconscious invitation to remember the good things about our history. 

Being unresolved is uncomfortable. It’s like wearing shoes that rub your heel or a bra that rides up one armpit. But it’s also a form of self-preservation, a way of staving off the painful feelings of truly grieving. Ambiguous loss is often the experience people have when they lose their relationship with a parent because of dementia or a spouse because of addiction. The person is still there but not in the way you want them to be, not in the way you knew them to be. There’s a sense of waiting for a moment when things might change — when your mother recognizes you or your spouse finally enters treatment.

That’s where I am. Waiting for the moment when I’ll know for sure. I’m waiting for my friend to write me an email explaining why she ended the friendship. I’m waiting to know something for sure. I’m waiting for some kind of sign that there really is no hope, that our friendship is truly over. For whatever reason, I just can't face the loss yet. I'm unresolved.

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