Thursday, October 23, 2014

Loving is Losing

Yesterday I wrote a post about how good things are in my future because I am accomplished and hard working in the present, even though that mindset is hard to maintain when good things happen to the people close to you. It can be difficult to be happy for someone when their good opportunities show up while yours are still on the way.

But it can be even harder to be happy for someone when their good opportunity costs you their presence.

I am not someone who makes friends easily. I can like a person, but rarely do I love them. If relationships can be compared to sex, I keep most of my friends and loved ones stalled at emotional second base. It's not intentional--opening myself up to another person just takes a lot of time for me to feel comfortable with it. I have always been the type to have one or two close friends instead of a tier of besties.

Everything changed when I started working in mental health. For those of you who want to experience moments of pure pride and satisfaction in your life's work, I suggest working on an acute mental health unit at some point in your life. When it's good, it's the highest high you can achieve.

However, the lows are just as dramatic, and every high costs about twenty lows. That level of intensity, combined with the implicit trust you place in your co-workers (and they in you) for both personal and patient safety, yields a deep and dramatic connection that it usually takes years of friendship to forge. There are days when my co-workers are the singular reason I push through the exhaustion and stress long enough to show up and work a shift.

I'm not saying the entire place is hearts and handholding, but the friends I've made there, I love like family.

Yet time, odiously, insidiously, marches on, and when opportunities arise, smart people (like my friends) take them. And while I know that a friendship that's involved literal blood, sweat, and tears cannot be torn asunder by anything as mere as occupation, the knowledge that I won't be seeing some of these people every day breaks my heart.

There's no conclusion, no panacea for loss or grief to offer. Moving on sucks, and this is merely an acknowledgement of such. As a child, I thought only death was worth mourning, but in reality anything that can be lost is cause for grief, and it's impossible to tell which experiences will end up being the most cherished once they're memories. I merely know that love is worth the pain.

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