December 8, 2020

The Ties that Bind: What to do when Relationships End but Connections Don’t.


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The ties that bind close friendships and relationships are deeply rooted.

But sometimes they become fractured; sometimes a bond is irreparably broken—and what we are left with is a dwindling thread.

An invisible, translucent thread refusing to give way. A thin, fractured, delicate strand of connection, outwardly as soft and fragile as lace but with a Teflon interior. It remains long after that relationship or friendship is over. Despite us serving it an eviction notice, it’s a cocky and malicious squatter who refuses to budge.

It’s the friend who turns into an enemy, the passion that becomes the pain, and the love that becomes loathing. Regardless of its make up, it’s there—pulling, provoking, and poking holes in your peace.

When we have a friendship or a relationship that breaks, those memories and connections don’t just disintegrate; they live somewhere deep inside us and sit tight. If we were to examine this thread underneath a microscope, we would see the memories at the molecular level, mocking us, digging their heels in like teeny, little pieces of expired connection, dancing the waltz straight across our heart.

It’s our deepest fears being used against us. It’s those moments of vulnerable truth being used to torment. It’s the material that absorbed the betrayal—the sponge that soaked up the spillage.

It’s the feather of the arrow that is hurtling straight at us. It’s an iridescent malignance from within; it’s the land of the forgiven but not yet forgotten.

The transition from love to hate creates a conjuring that the mind can’t dispel. These treacherous threads that once bound now become the noose that keeps us prisoner.

It’s the lingering line of complexity—the rattling drawbridge that connects us; despite the fragility, it bears the weight—refusing to snap. It’s the hope of reconciliation and the twine of temptation. It’s the rope of regret.

Helen Keller once said, “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” For me, she is talking about that invisible string, the ties that bind.

At times, we can try and dissolve them through denial or strength of mind, or inject them with indifference so that they are no longer relevant, but the scar from the stitch is still there—healed but ever-present—long after the lesson is learnt.

It’s an itch that can never fully be scratched.

I also believe this bond works both ways. If that connection was strong enough to create one of these mystical links, the other person will also feel it. It’s an unspoken truth, another thing that connects us.

There’s a song by Taylor Swift which captures this formidable force perfectly. Let me share with you the lyrics, as she does a much more eloquent job of explaining this than me:

“My Tears Ricochet”

We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
You know I didn’t want to have to haunt you
But what a ghostly scene
You wear the same jewels that I gave you
As you bury me

I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace
‘Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave
And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet

So what do we do with this lingering connection? How do we reenergize this to our advantage? Let’s get our chemistry books out for some inspiration, because in all types of chemical reactions, bonds are broken and reassembled to form new products.

Could we do the same?

Could we take that tie, that Teflon, that stubborn bond and reassemble it within ourselves to form a new type of connection?

I like to think that a thread as strong as the one I have described above can be overcome by a new product within us. Maybe this product is in the form of a life lesson or a new perspective. Maybe it becomes the reason we strive for better or the springboard for a new experience.

Or maybe we use these layers of fine rope from friendships and relationships past to build a Teflon ladder, climb back up, and try again.



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