When Friends Move Away

Saying goodbye to an old friend has its own soundtrack. It’s the one you hear when you walk into a smoky bar and someone is playing jazz on a vintage upright piano in the corner. Every moment that is left becomes itemised, noted with clarity so that everything you love about that person will be remembered for good.

I often wish there was a replay feature on life. Not to correct wrongs but so the moments we have truly enjoyed, that maybe we didn’t appreciate at the time, could be viewed again. So we could see those people who are no longer in our lives one more time.

When I heard my friend Ellen was moving to Singapore I got that pang I always get when someone I love is leaving. It is something I have a very hard time with and I think, harks back to me having to leave Scotland when I was a child and not really wanting to go.

It’s hard when someone who gets you up and leaves. It’s even harder when she admits that maybe the leaving won’t work out as it should.

Ellen’s husband walked out on her two years ago in a showering burst of stereotypical behaviour. Merchant banker having an affair with his much younger secretary. It’s been done a thousand times before, right? The fact that it has doesn’t ease the pain. I saw that firsthand with Ellen.

After three months he came back. Skulking like the rat he was. Ellen rang me, not glad to see him. She was settling in to life without him and after the initial shock of his betrayal was coping rather well. She found the shock of his desire for a reconciliation harder to cope with than his betrayal.

Ellen and her husband have had their ups and downs over the past two years but I will admit that even from my point of view as the friend who wants to kill him – he has put in a huge effort. Yet Ellen’s misgivings continue to plague her.

They are moving to Singapore for his work. Ellen is giving up a wonderful job in publishing she has held for twenty years. Their children are being taken out of schools they like and away from childhood friends. None of this need be a negative thing, in fact, something like this should be seen as an adventure; except for one thing. Ellen has lost the trust she once had for the man she always called, still calls, the love of her life.

Whenever he comes home late from work, or is curt with her, or distant, or comments negatively on the way she looks, she thinks of the other woman and wonders….

So many people have said to her leave him if you feel like that. Why stay with a man you don’t trust? He’ll do it once, he’ll do it again.

I say that relationships don’t handle generalisations well. There are too many shades of emotion. One thing that getting older has taught me is to not be judgemental, particularly with regard to relationships. None of us know what we would do in a certain situation until it happens to us.

You should get out if you are in physical danger. Definitely. But what if you are in emotional danger? What if you’ve been hurt badly but have recovered enough to lead a full, maybe even happy life; but sometimes at three in the morning the hurt comes surging back filling you once more with self-doubt?

What if your relationship with your husband is good, maybe better than it was before, and it’s only sometimes that the misgivings assail you? What if most of the time you don’t even think about what he did because you are surrounded by family and friends and familiar places and things you love?

And therein lies the problem. Ellen is on her way to Singapore, her life packed up in crates. Leaving behind all the things that offer her comfort, but also offer her distraction. She is worried she has been pretending she is happy all along and that without the distractions she will crumple. She is worried that getting used to a strange country will be too much and will cause things to fall apart. I am hoping that the sights and sounds of a new land will be what she needs to figure out what she really wants. They say a change is as good as a rest. I also think a change can cause scattered thoughts to coalesce, washing away fear like an advancing wave. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

24 thoughts on “When Friends Move Away

  1. I can relate to a feeling of having either friends walk out or move away from you with physical or emotional distance and both of those in their own way can have very strong lasting impacts.

    I sure do hope your friend finds her true self and her wants and needs in a new land, if not atleast a realisation should dawn! Some men…are just left best to be with no one AT ALL – the ones they cannot appreciate!


  2. Only time will tell for your friend Sel. SHe may have made a big mistake taking him (THE RAT) back but then again, maybe not. Who really knows what goes on behind close doors? I’ve never been cheated on, through the marriages (2) and several serious relationships I’ve had (at least Im quite sure of that) but I do think its probably one of the most demeaning experiences a person can go through. I couldn’t trust someone again and wouldnt want to be with someone who had not wanted to be with me. But I guess for some it’s easier to let go and continue in another way, with the same person. Im sorry to hear of your loss too. Good friends are treasures.

    Many hugs,G


  3. You are so right when you state that relationships aren’t good with generalizations. Even if we are really close to someone, we don’t ever have the intimate picture of their marriage/relationship. I too have learned not to be opinionated or to share my feelings with friends who are struggling in this part of their lives despite the strong desire to strangle the partner.

    I wish your friend Ellen well…and hope this brand new adventure is the means to re-connect with that ever elusive trust. It can happen……I’ve seen it happen.

    Maybe trust changes with the maturing of a marriage? I don’t know… maybe it has a different hue….not better or worse….but different?


  4. I don’t know the lady … but I’d advise having an ‘escape route’ just in case it becomes necessary.

    Or, is it possible there’s a sort of unofficial committee of WAGs (wives and girlfriends) who’ll give support if it’s needed? I know we had in the RAF … since we were almost obliged to employ servants we didn’t really need, a lot of them got bored; even suicidal.

    But, ‘the girls’ were always there!


  5. You are absolutely right Selma that none of us really knows what we would do until faced with that situation ourselves. It’s so easy to judge it from the outside. I admire your friend’s courage to pack up her life and move away. It may turn out to be the new beginning they all need, and I pray for her sake – for all of them – that it is. Who of us doesn’t sometimes lay awake in the middle of the night and replay old tapes and wonder if it could have gone differently. Your statement of her wondering if she’s been “pretending to be happy” really stood out. I’ve done that in my past, and I know others who have too – afraid to face that dark place or awareness that their life really isn’t in a good place at all. You have written this post with such sensitivity – one of the many things I like about you!


  6. Several of my longtime friends have moved far away this year…and they appear to be doing far better than I – the one who stayed behind. πŸ™‚
    I make movies for my great-grandson. We watched his second birthday party recently and he said ‘Grammy Soupy, I want to go there again.’ Maybe he’ll invent a time machine to carry us back to those wonderfully warm spots of life.


  7. Very few people’s lives are the way they look on the outside. Many of us put on our game faces when we are with family and friends and act as if our worlds are hunky dory because isn’t that what everyone expects?

    I think Ellen has more strength than most in that first of all she found she managed without her husband in spite of how devastated she must have been and then coped admirably when he came back again, an even harder task in my opinion.

    I hope this turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to all of them….a new start often is and I hope you don’t miss her too much. It hurts to lose good friends as they really are a rare thing.


  8. Change is as good as a rest…what is the song – the old song – that has that line in it…?

    I, too, wish we could revisit moments in time. Oh how I wish we could. I guess the fact that we can’t has – as I’ve aged – made me especially cognizant of those special moments as they’re happening. When I do that, become really present – you’re exactly right – its like the air around me crackles, and time takes a pause pass in forward motion.

    I feel for you, Selma. …and for your friend. I can’t imagine being in that situation. I mean, I’ve been cheated on but not while in a marriage of so many years, with children.

    Your friend is lucky to have you in her life. I agree with Travelrat that she should have an escape route just in case. In these sorts of situations, I think, that’s the only way to go.


  9. I do feel for you having your friend leave and move so far away. I know you will miss her deeply and think about her hoping that everything will turn out well. I hope things will go well in Singapore and that she hasn’t made a serious error in judgment.


  10. Oh that’s a hard one.

    All of my dearest friends live in different countries so I know your feelings well. I, too, have times when I long to have a face to face conversation with someone who really gets me.

    I wish Ellen the best of luck.


  11. DEEPSM25:
    I completely agree with you re. some men being best on their own. Some women too, I guess. It is difficult when close friends move away. I know people come and go and the time you have with certain people can often be fleeting, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. *sigh*
    Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Anything involving infidelity is very hard. I guess there is no set response because every case is different. Trusting your gut instinct can often be the way to go, but sometimes that can tell you things you don’t really want to hear. You’ve got to be a tough cookie to get through this life, that’s for sure!

    I do think you can get the trust back. It really is the ultimate kind of forgiveness but it can happen. It just takes on a different hue. Very wise words.

    An escape route is essential. We do have one, just in case. Hope we don’t have to use it!

    I’m hoping it’s a fresh start and that maybe, once and for all, they can put the past behind them. Pretending to be happy – sometimes we do it without thinking. It can be easier than the alternative. Thanks for your very kind comment.

    Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could invent such a thing? It’s interesting that you say your friends who have moved are having such a good time because I have experienced that too. Some of my friends who moved overseas in the past five years or so say it is the best thing they have ever done. Maybe I should move too!

    Will look forward to your return.

    People can change. I’ve seen it time and time again. Letting go of the hurt is often not as easy but it can be done. Fingers crossed.

    ROMA NY:
    Ellen does have a great deal of strength. She has handled the whole thing with so much dignity. I would have been a blethering idiot. I hope it all works out.

    I know that song too but it just won’t come to me, either. i Know what you mean about time crackling. You are right. It’s as if we notice things for the first time. The escape route is sorted and ready to activate. Sounds like a spy novel. πŸ˜€

    I hope so too. Only time will tell, I suppose.

    That’s it. isn’t it? There are so few people who truly understand us in life that when one of them leaves it is difficult. Hope you are well. How’s the gorgeous bubby?

    Done and dusted. I think no matter what the situation in life it’s very important to have a Plan B. It has saved me many a time!

    I hope it’s a new beginning, Linda, I really do. Oh, that would be so awesome!


  12. Well, I’m back. Had different sides fighting in my head, and didn’t want my comment sounding like a tennis match. πŸ˜›

    There’s a lot of choices going on here – his choices, her choices. Not just one or two, but a whole lot. It’s probably a good thing she’s leaving her world of comfort so she can get off the fence – no one can do that when they aren’t sure of their own mind. So kudos to her! I know it’s hard on you as the friend to watch her go, but I think your heart is in the right place – and she knows no matter where she goes, she’ll always have you.

    And that’s saying something. πŸ™‚


    You are absolutely right. This may be exactly what she needs to sort things out in her own mind. I do think it’s important to be honest with ourselves, isn’t it? But sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. She will always have me. 100%. I hope it’s enough.


  14. Maybe it will turn to be a good thing. Maybe the change will be good for them. They could start afresh in a new country. They could end up loving Singapore and enjoy their new life. Keep your fingers crossed.


  15. ROSHAN:
    It’s true. I have often found a complete change of scenery does you the world of good. I will definitely keep my fingers crossed.


  16. Hi Selma–how fortunate Ellen is, to have YOU in her life. Prayers to Ellen and her new life. And hoping a “Plan B” won’t be necessary. Do update us, if you feel it is appropriate.


  17. LISA:
    So far, it is going well. I don’t hear from her as much as I’d hoped, however. She is still settling in. I will definitely keep you posted!


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