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Reaching Out When It's Been a While

I met up with my friend and confided to him about a tough situation I was dealing with. I share with him my plans and he clearly disapproves. He tells me my decisions are about to pull the rug from underneath a person who will be impacted by my choices. I know this. But I can’t put my life on hold or make decisions to keep someone else happy. I go home and later send my friend a message to thank him for listening and I share my decision. He is clearly unhappy with my choice and responds to my message with some ugly things. At that moment, I needed support and a champion, so I chose to walk away from the friendship at least for a bit.

Eight years went by. My life had changed drastically and I often thought of him. The anger I felt for the things he said had subsided. I was in the middle of a life changing event and I was working to leave nothing unsaid. I was facing my demons, no matter how scary. He was next on my list.

Should I reach out to someone I lost touch with and haven't talked to?

I toyed around with the idea of contacting him. I wasn’t sure I had his phone number, so I crafted a message via Facebook Messenger. I thought about my intentions and I truly just wanted to just say hello and to make sure he was OK. My message was respectful, knowing he had a wife who didn’t think highly of me. He answered within minutes, and he apologized for the night we fought. He took responsibility for pushing me away and said he never forgot me. I cried.

I learned that he was in the midst of a divorce and ironically we reconnected at a time when we both needed our friendship the most.

Turns out more and more people are making attempts to reconnect in 2021 because of the pandemic. Some good reads I recommend are this article from the NY Times, and another one from Bustle, which offers practical steps to making an attempt to reconnect. In the Feisty Mermaids Podcast, I share my favorite takeaways from that article and two stories of reconnecting - each with a different ending.

Taking the step to get in touch with someone after a long time can be very scary. You are forced to be vulnerable and to open the door for many possible outcomes. When you make attempts to reconnect, your intentions should come from a good place. And I feel that even if nobody is to blame for losing touch, a sincere and humble approach is warranted. It takes courage to reach out and once you do, it takes effort to maintain some sort of relationship - nobody wants the person that keeps popping in and out.

When I’ve lost touch and wanted to reached out to someone after a long time, I follow this list:

  1. I examine the nature of the relationship, was it mutual or one sided? Did you give more than you got?

  2. I think about how I felt when I was around that person. A few months ago I had a drink with a friend after 10 years. I started to feel very anxious once we met and started having feelings about not being good enough. I realized that was the way I felt throughout the five year relationship. There was an undercurrent I could never quite pin-point, but by paying attention to how this person made me feel, it was clear.

  3. I set my intentions for reaching out. Do I genuinely want to catch up and hear about their lives? Or is my ego driving some kind of agenda?

  4. Be humble and listen. I am pretty energetic and outgoing, so it’s easy for me to take over the conversation. I need to be mindful of my tendencies.

  5. A time, a reason, a season. As much as I want to maintain contact with lots of people that have come into my life, I remind myself that not everyone is meant to stay in my life forever. I’ve come to understand that some people come into your life for a short time, while others are in it for the long run. I may not understand it at the moment, but it’s how life works.

I’ve never regretted reaching out. It is vulnerable and it takes courage. Sometimes it works out, while other times it hurts. For me, it is better than living with regret of now knowing.

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