In 1976, a young journalist by the name of Gail Sheehy said “We must be willing to change chairs if we want to grow. There is no permanent compatibility between a chair and a person. And there is no one right chair. What is right at one stage may be restricting at another or too soft. During the passage from one stage to another, we will be between two chairs. Wobbling no doubt, but developing.”
I am a 34-year-old mother who, until recently, held onto a chair that didn’t really fit.
I have decided to share this story because I believe everyone comes across similar circumstances and, out of a sense of loyalty, keep the old chair.
As a child, my playmates of choice were of the masculine sort. One boy in particular was my favorite as he didn’t treat me with kid gloves.
Now, although I can’t tell you that our platonic boundaries were never crossed, at the end of the day we were just the best of friends.
Time had us in different geographic locations eventually but our friendship prevailed. However, a few years ago our delicate balance was shifted.
He (I'll call him George) began dating someone and it was serious - a status he had usually evaded. This someone came to one particular event that I didn’t think she belonged.
Wherever we were in the world George and I always had at least one visit scheduled. Every May, George had a weekend-long family reunion close by, and I joined him there. After that, we always went somewhere fun of our own choosing.
On the last little vacation, he brought his girlfriend. I wasn’t pleased. He could see her any time, so I felt like she was treading on our ritual. To make things worse, we had planned to go fishing in Florida, but her schedule couldn’t accommodate the trip. That would leave George and I alone on the boat and this idea didn’t please her too much. So we went to Six Flags so that she could come. I tried to be understanding because I guess I would have the same reservations had I been in her place.
In the weeks and months following the trip, mine and George’s phone calls became less frequent and when they did occur, tense. I sounded resentful and he sounded tired. He wanted me to be friends with his girlfriend, but it just couldn't happen - believe me I tried. We were just too suspicious of each other.
So May came around again. George called, but I kept the conversation short and away from trip/reunion talk.
I had that quote from Sheehy on my mind. I needed to let go of this chair.
As another step in growing up, I realized that I no longer had a real place in his life. And if that episode had been postponed to the next May, I would have been in his exact predicament. So to be fair, I had to acknowledge there was no real place for him in my life either.
No matter how much someone can mean to you, you can still out-grow them. The key is to let them go. If you hang on to something that doesn’t make sense anymore, you can prevent your life from moving forward.
I will miss my playmate, but I’m grateful. You see, I’m sure I could have made it all these years without George. I’m just glad I didn’t have to.