For the last few years, I’ve found myself craving community. Not just people, but a heart-full community. Friendships that are a two-way street; deep connection and conversation; understanding and belonging. When I fell extremely ill due to living in a severe toxic mold situation, that desire and need hit even harder, and it also brought about the opportunity for me to move back to my home state of Illinois where I could be met with open arms from friends and family. And while I was very much welcomed back by some, I’ve also had to face the hard truth that so many of those relationships have changed.
There is a saying that people come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime, and as hard as that truth can be to face, I’m learning that it is indeed the truth.
Relationships evolve, this isn’t new information for any of us. It’s why some romantic partnerships must come to an end, but often it’s just as hard, if not harder when we are facing friendships that are falling away.
There’s been a part of me that has always known my friendships would look different the older I got. As friends got married and had kids, it would put me in a precarious situation, where do I fit? While I do hope to find a partner someday, at this stage of my life, I am single. But even beyond that, I’m choosing not to have children. It’s never been a desire in my heart and while I remain open that my feelings could change, I don’t foresee it happening.
As friends have kids, I’m positioned as “Auntie Katie” or at least I am up until a certain point. What that point is, I don’t quite know and maybe it varies but it’s there. The shift from Auntie Katie to someone they no longer know is hard, at least for me.
Some people will never understand why I don’t want kids. Some will say they do, but they don’t. Some will keep waiting for the day I change my mind because they want me to have kids. Some (very, very few) will get it and support me through it. These are the ones who I feel truly see me, accept me, and encourage me to live the life that fills me up.
I’ve been reading Lighter by Yung Pueblo and in it, he writes, “As your inner light starts shining more brightly, your circle of connections sometimes becomes smaller, but you feel prepared to bring more intentional presence into each interaction.” He continues on, “The fact that you are no longer a stranger to yourself helps you make your connections richer and more mutually fulfilling.”
I feel this. The more I step into my truth – what I want from my life and what I don’t, what I believe and what I don’t, who I am and who I’m not – people fall away. Just because it’s not surprising, doesn’t make it any easier or hurt any less.
I’m in a season of watching friendships come to a natural end. Or maybe more appropriately, not fighting for others who aren’t going to put in an ounce of effort or even respond to a text. Friendship breakups, even without a formal conversation or event, are going to hurt. But I’m facing the reality that most of the friendships I hoped I was coming back to are not what they used to be; they were for a season. There are some still there but they look different and that too can be hard and bring up questions about how they’ll continue to evolve and if they’ll follow suit in falling away.
When you choose to not have kids it feels like most friendships are for a season or a reason, not a lifetime.
So while I stand more confidently in who I am, what I desire for my life, and what I don’t, my circle of connections is growing smaller.
The lifers are there. Their lives change, they have kids, and I find myself in a panic if they’re next to go. Maybe some will, but I like to think (and hope) they won’t. They’ll stay the lifers. They’ll be the ones I can text to share about my next new project and they’ll cheer me on; the ones I can call when I’m having a bad day and they’ll answer or call me back as soon as they can; the ones who feel like home just to be around them; the ones I choose to see as family.
People come into our lives for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. And if you know you have even one you can call a lifer, take a moment to feel gratitude for them.