The NEW New College advice column
By Sydney Rosenthal
How do you restore a close friendship after cutting off all communication for a period of time?
I picked this question because this is something that I’ve been contemplating myself. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is coming up and it’s a time that emphasizes reconciliation and forgiveness. I’m truly grateful for the new relationships I have built and I think that is due to the emphasis I have placed on being my genuine self. Despite this, I still miss the friends I have lost touch with.
I pushed away a lot of people when I was struggling with my health. Initially, I made various excuses as to why I shouldn’t reach out: “they’re better off without me, what if they hate me, if they wanted to be my friend they would have reached out, etc.” Now, the question I keep coming back to everytime I’m about to send a message is, “what is my goal in doing this?”
This past summer I reconnected with one of my closest friends that I lost during the aforementioned incident. We used to act like sisters. I reached out by liking one of their Instagram pictures and then commenting on one of their stories. It was really casual, but I still was anxious that they wouldn’t respond. They ended up inviting me over to their house for a Fourth of July party. When I showed up to their house, terrified and clutching a plate of paleo brownies, they put me at ease by giving my a huge hug. They introduced me to all their new friends, many of who I had seen perform at a local drag event. It was uncomfortable at first but ended up being lovely.
Our relationship is casual now, we comment on each other’s posts and occasionally check in to see how each other is doing. I feel like time may ease the awkwardness and in some ways I mourn the loss of the old relationship I had with them but I’ve come to accept that we both have changed and grown as people.
This positive experience has inspired me to reach out to more people I have lost touch with. But I’m struggling because some of these people have hurt me in the past and I know that I have hurt some of them as well. I remind myself that forgiveness is not instantaneous and that it often needs to be earned. Recently, I reached out to someone I hurt and they just didn’t even respond. I allowed myself an hour to mope before I forced myself to just move on.
I would encourage you to reach out with no expectations. Just because you’re ready and open to reconnect doesn’t mean that the other person is, or you both may just realize that your values don’t align anymore. I don’t know what’s holding you back but I know for me, I’m just afraid. Let’s make a pact to both reach out to our pals? For me it’s always better to know where I stand with someone.