What It’s Like When Someone You Loved Becomes Someone You Used To Know

by Paul Hudson

Life goes on. If I’ve learned anything during my 27 years in this world, it’s just that.

Regardless of your hardship, regardless of the mistakes you make, regardless of how great or how bad things seemingly get, life continues moving forward. One step at a time until the end of time.

It's sometimes difficult to see any purpose to life at all. Sure, we each find our own purpose by doing our best to find or create ourselves.

But if there is a universal purpose to it all, I don’t see it going beyond existence itself. The purpose of this life, of existing, of living, is to exist. What we make of that existence is up to us.

There are no handbooks or manuals out there that speak universal truths. Each sect, each group, each religion, community or family have their own way of going about things, of going about what they claim to be the “right way” of living.

I sometimes honestly question the possibility of a right way of existing. There are clearly better or worse ways of living, but even those are relative and subjective.

The one thing I am certain of, however, is we aren’t meant to be alone. We aren’t meant to live lives secluded from others. Togetherness is the single universal purpose across all groups, societies and sects.

The views, the chants, the prayers and the ideology behind these traditions will differ, but at the end of the day, all human beings can agree on this: We need each other.

More than that, we want each other.

So, for this reason, one could say the purpose of living is to share your life with others. And herein lies the dilemma.

While sharing our lives with others surely brings us joy, smiles, laughter and happiness, it also brings us tears, pain and misery. You can’t really have one if you don’t have the other.

People come, and people go. It’s a part of life. And while it may not be something for us to rejoice over, it's part of the natural order of things.

Throughout our lives, we make friends, but we also lose friends. We find love, and we also lose those we love.

It’s sad -- it really, truly is -- but it is what it is. And sometimes, the ones we love turn into people we used to know.

You look at this person but still only see who he or she used to be.

If you’ve ever broken things off with someone you once loved and then had the chance to see this person for the first time in years, you’ll notice this phenomenon.

You’ll see he or she has aged. You’ll notice he or she looks, talks and even acts a bit differently, but to you, he or she is still the person you once knew.

It’s almost a sort of denial. We do our best to hold onto the past, to prevent or revert any changes that may have occurred in the years you spent apart. If you ever truly loved each other, you’ll almost certainly treat this person as if he or she was the same person he or she used to be and as if you were the same person you used to be.

But by the end of the conversation, you’re going to have a sinking feeling in your stomach. You’ll both look at each other and realize that behind those eyes no longer lies the person you once loved. That person is forever in the past, and now you don’t really even know the person in front of you.

You either figure out a way to keep each other as parts of your lives, or you don’t -- and you understand it’s time to let go.

You may feel relieved to get the closure you’ve needed for a long time, or you’ll experience your heart breaking all over again. It’s difficult to let go of someone who used to be a big part of your life.

Even if this person hasn't been a part of it in years, your memory of this person has helped shape the individual you’ve become -- and letting go of him or her feels unnatural.

But the relationship you now have with this person may also feel unnatural. The way he or she looks at you, talks to you and treats you may feel unnatural. Keeping this person as a part of your life may feel unnatural.

Life goes on, but sadly, often on different paths than we imagined. And when you lose touch with the ones you loved, for whatever reason, the paths you find yourself on will likely be too distant.

We want to become better individuals. We go through our struggles and come out victorious. We want to change, because change is a part of life.

But we also want to hold on to pieces of our past.

And when we stumble upon our past, the distance we’ve traveled becomes very obvious.

Sometimes we change so much that loving the people we once loved is no longer possible. Sometimes we have to let go of those we’ve loved. Sometimes that's the only way to continue on living happily. Sometimes those you love become strangers.

And life goes on.

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