Earlier this week, I was this close to letting go of my 1986 Toyota Corolla. I had researched charities who accept vehicle donations. I had visualized removing the old plates, and clearing out the glove compartment and trunk. I was so close, after 28 years, to bidding farewell to this old friend.
And then, my husband got a bit wistful. He started talking about replacing the car’s engine. I let myself imagine how it would look with a new paint job. And just like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!.
There comes a moment when it’s time to let go of things. But how do you know when enough is enough? I suppose it’s when you realize that something consistently takes more from you than it gives back. My old car keeps breaking down and takes its share of our money and peace of mind. But it still gives me a sense of connection with my past, and my husband loves driving it (when it’s running). So when we do the math—balancing the financial and the emotional elements of the equation—it keeps adding up in favor of keeping my dear old jalopy.
This formula can be applied to relationships with people as well. The New Moon in Aquarius, the sign of friends – and a conversation with a client who was weighing a knotty problem with a close friend – led me to think about the delicate balance of give and take that is the foundation of friendship.
For me, the rules of friendship are not complicated. They should be reciprocal. They should be enjoyable. They should be supportive. In the most rare and dramatic circumstances, they may and probably should be confrontational. (But there had better have been a lot of deposits placed in the “love, laughter, and support” account before cashing that particular check.)
When one day you do the math and realize that one person has been doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship – making all the phone calls, sending all the emails, initiating all the get-togethers, doing all the listening – it’s very likely you’re no longer in a friendship at all.
It can be tricky to end friendships, though. We have protocols for ending romantic relationships, including the words to use and the appropriate grieving period afterward. Not so with friendships. When I was younger, I ended a couple of friendships very gracelessly, simply because I had no idea how else to manage it. And for the same reason, I stayed in a few friendships longer than I should have.
One friend, who had let me down at one of my lowest moments, lingered on the periphery of my life for a few years longer than she should have; I held on because we shared so much history, and because of what she had been to me, once. When I realized I had literally initiated every contact between us for years, I finally realized that it was time to let the relationship go. And in the end, it was surprisingly easy: I simply stopped calling her. Thirteen years later, she still sends Christmas cards with notes about how much she misses talking to me; tellingly, my phone number hasn’t changed in twenty years.
This New Moon in Aquarius comes just one day before Venus turns direct, close to a conjunction with Pluto. During its rather difficult retrograde period (which began at the winter solstice), I’ve been doing some pretty serious thinking about what things are worth. Is the old car still worth another infusion of cash? Should I stick to my resolve to quit offering a service that was driving me crazy, even though doing so has left a sizable crater in my bank account? Do I still love my work enough to keep doing it, even when I feel as if I’m never really reaching my goals?
For now, the old car is worth it. I still value my work, and letting go of unwanted tasks has been worth the pay cut. I’ve navigated a 40-day Venus retrograde obstacle course of emails from people wanting something for nothing, or wanting me to do something I don’t want to do. I’ve gotten lots of practice saying “no” to what wasn’t worthwhile.
The Sabian Symbol for this New Moon degrees, 11 Aquarius, is one of my favorites: “In a silent hour, a man receives a new inspiration which may change his life.” In some of our silent hours this month, perhaps it’s time to “do the math” of our Aquarian relationships: friendships, and involvements with groups and communities. What are they worth to us? And what are we worth to them?
Friendships are entirely optional relationships. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. This is a good month to attend to them, and to take a silent hour or two to acknowledge where the balance sheet may have drifted into the red. It may be time to send someone a fruit basket… or it may be time to stop making all the phone calls.
© 2014 by April Elliott Kent