Diary of Surrender, Week 7: Giving Up on Friendships

It turns out there’s a right way and a wrong way to give up, and it’s often impossible to tell what’s what.

Adeline Dimond


Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

I’m writing a diary about my year of giving up, although I may give up on this too. Who knows? You can read about why I’m giving up here, and the previous week of saying fuck it here. (The term “week” is used loosely).

It turns out you can’t give up on everything. I thought about that idea last week when I saw the way my parents abandoned their home, leaving me to decide whether to bring it back to life or just put it out of its misery. Over the last few weeks, I’ve also lost my mental endurance and grit, mostly because of the long slog of taking care of my aging parents, but not only because of that. Case in point: two kitchen light bulbs have burnt out. They require a ladder to change them, and I have decided I just can’t do it.

This is bad. You can’t lose endurance or grit. You can’t let houses fall apart. If, like me, you’ve made some grand announcement about giving up on all the things that don’t work or make you unhappy, you have to be careful not to indiscriminately apply that idea to everything. Otherwise all the lightbulbs slowly burn out in your house, the house itself falls apart, and before you know it, you’ve gone full Grey Gardens.

So I’m trying to be discerning about what I can and can’t give up. Giving up on being skinny and finding a man, sure. But what about friendships? Where do they fall on the giving-up spectrum? Grey Gardens or healthy?

In 2021, I gave up on two close friendships. And by “gave up,” I mean two friends got mad at me and rather than addressing the issue, I just walked. On its face, this seems unhealthy and perhaps cruel. My close female friendships are the honor of my life, and conventional wisdom says female friendships are the key to happiness and longevity blah blah blah etc and so forth. You should work to keep them alive, unless maybe you shouldn’t.

The two, now dead, but previously long-standing friendships were with Rebecca and Jackie. They were used to me apologizing and “working it out” over the years, in the service of the ideal of long-lasting female friendships. But in 2021, something…