Unresolved: That Uncomfortable In-Between Feeling

I’m unresolved. Much like anger or elation, unresolved is an emotional state. It takes energy. It distracts me from being present. It is a niggling, uncomfortable state. It’s not there all the time, but when it shows up it is strong and clear.

Almost a year ago I lost a friend. She didn’t die or move away. She just became lost to me. We were friends for thirty years and then one day we weren’t. It’s like she went on a boat and never returned. She’s okay. She’s still friends with our other friends, but she’s lost to me. I don’t understand why she decided to stop being my friend and this confusion eats away at me. I have so many questions.

I am unresolved. I am experiencing a sense of loss, the feeling of longing. And confusion. Because of the way our friendship so nebulously ended, I have no clarity. Maybe I would feel resolved if I knew she was really gone. But she’s still here, just a few miles from my house. There’s a term in psychology — ambiguous loss. I think that’s what I’m experiencing. I am in a confused, delayed state of grieving. There was no closure with this friend, no clarity and so I am unresolved.

Several times a week I think about calling my friend but I feel certain she won’t respond. I’ve tried reaching out numerous times and she hasn’t reciprocated. So I don’t call or text. The impulse to reach out just floats in front of me, reminding me that I am unresolved, that I haven’t let this friend go.

My unresolved feelings are an in-between place, a bookmark between the comfort of our friendship and the sadness of its definite end. I’m frustrated because this lack of resolution is lasting a long time. It’s been months and I still dream regularly about seeing my friend. I still have her phone number in my head. I have so much anger about how she dropped me like a rotten banana in the compost. I’m unresolved.

Part of being unresolved is focusing on the other person. I wonder so many things: Is she happy?; Does she miss me too?; Is she unresolved? In focusing on what my former friend is thinking I am prolonging this state that I am in. I am wrapped up in my ego — worried about how she and other people see me — instead of my own experience with the loss.

To come to a resolution with this friendship, to actually grieve the loss, I have to throw all that other stuff out the window. I have to let go of what my former friend thinks about me, what she is telling our other friends about me. That’s the hard part. Once I let go of all that other stuff I will have to enter the true grief state of this loss and that makes me too sad.

Strangely, it helps to just have a name for this state that I’m in. I’m unresolved. I’m not happy, not sad, just somewhere in between. It feels comforting to define that. At least I know where I am. And it helps to remember the good things about our friendship. Too often I just feel anger when I think of my friend. Maybe that’s why she comes to me in my dreams. Maybe these dreams are a subconscious invitation to remember the good things about our history.

Being unresolved is uncomfortable. It’s like wearing shoes that rub your heel or a bra that rides up one armpit. But it’s also a form of self-preservation, a way of staving off the painful feelings of truly grieving. Ambiguous loss is often the experience people have when they lose their relationship with a parent because of dementia or a spouse because of addiction. The person is still there but not in the way you want them to be, not in the way you knew them to be. There’s a sense of waiting for a moment when things might change — when your mother recognizes your face or your spouse finally enters treatment.

That’s where I am. Waiting for the moment when something will change, waiting for a time when I’ll know for sure. I’m waiting for my friend to write me an email explaining why she ended the friendship. I’m waiting for a sign that there really is no hope, that our friendship is truly over. I know this isn’t rational or healthy. I know I should be looking at the writing on the wall, the truth that our friendship is really over. But, for whatever reason, I can’t face the hugeness of this loss yet. Until I can, I guess I’ll just hang out here, unresolved.

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