I have always taken the word “friendship” seriously. Okay…well…I didn’t really take it seriously until I had lost a childhood friend when I was in my early 20’s due to immature behavior. When I lost that friendship, I had to take a step back and take a REALLY good look at myself as a person. I always thought that I was a good person and a great friend. I was funny, endearing, thoughtful, kind and considerate. I was loyal…or so I thought…and I was also an asshole. And that last point desperately needed to change.
So the first step in making a change is realizing that I needed to change, right? So that is what I did. I decided that the next time I had a good girlfriend, a BFF, a sister/friend, I would do right by her at all times, I would remain loyal and I would always have her back. And I have stuck to that mantra for the past twenty one years. But…
What if the person to whom I have been loyal is a toxic Debbie Downer? Do I stay in that relationship? Do I push forward and continue to have her back? Do I give her my time and my energy? How do I handle this??? After all, I definitely am not trying to revert to asshole behavior BUT I am also not trying to hang with a pessimist who always sees the glass half empty.
So there I was, five years into the friendship. Things started off great. We hung out together. Did lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast. Went shopping, lost hours on the phone talking about any and everything. Our children played together. Everything was kosher. There were days where we would chat and days when there would only be a text or two…and sometimes, there would be days where there was no communication at all. Yet, no matter what, I knew that whether we talked or not, I was secure in our friendship and that whenever we reconnected, we would pick up from where we left off and keep things moving. After all, that is how true friendship works, right?
I was wrong in my guesstimation.
So…life began to get hectic as it does when you are a working wife and mother with children in a zillion activities at the farthest reaches on the globe. I tried to maintain contact, but honestly, sometimes, a week would go by before I would send a text or make a phone call. And a week would go by before I would receive the same. Yet, I understand that life brings change and we roll with the punches. As time went on, the dinner meet ups became fewer, the lunches were nonexistent. The shopping trips stopped because the money was now going to the children’s athletic activity funds. The phone calls became fewer and the text messages dwindled down to the sporadic “Hey Girl”. We did do the obligatory birthday and anniversary phone calls and text messages but the thriving friendship that we previously had was in hiatus mode. I wasn’t too worried about it though, because I thought that we had a great foundation and that when life let up a bit, we would reconnect, update one another on our lives and move on. Imagine my surprise when I checked my social media account to find that I not only had been unfriended but that I had been blocked. WTF???
I was confused. What had I done? What had happened? And so I picked up the phone to call. And did I get an earful!!! I was told that I was a poor friend and that I had not phoned or texted the way she felt that I should have. That we never get together to eat, shop, connect, get the kids together and she felt hurt and left out of my life. She felt that I was not a good friend and she shut down and decided that I did not deserve to be in her life. I did take the time to point out to her that I had not received any calls or texts from her either…to which she responded that she didn’t call or text me because I hadn’t called or texted her. (insert WTH face here) I didn’t bother to argue with her or point out the fact that her reasoning was simple as H-E-double hockey sticks! I simply owned the fact that I had allowed the busyness of life to get in the way of our friendship and I offered her an apology. I mean, after all, I had made a vow to be a good friend and to be loyal. And with that apology, I made it my business to text every other day and to call at least once a week.
So, my every other day texts were met with half responses. My phone calls were always sent to voicemail. And when she did call me, her side of the conversation was always filled with complaints about how life is sooooo hard and how folks have done her wrong. Now, the first few conversations, I entertained the “woe is me” vibe she was giving off because I felt that she needed an ear, a shoulder and a good friend. But as we continued to do the phone call thing, I noticed the complaint pattern continuing. And it was always someone else’s fault. And no matter what, the glass was always half empty. Now, when I see a glass 50% full…wow!!!! See that right there? I said that the glass is 50% FULL!!! And that is my point right there. Our viewpoints.
The more we talked, the more I realized that she enjoyed playing the victim. She enjoyed the “woe is me” song. She enjoyed focusing on how tough life is. She enjoyed complaining. And when I offered an alternative viewpoint, I always got a “but” followed by more complaining. I also realized that she also liked to throw in how she felt soooo left out when I was distant from her for a spell…like she was trying to guilt me into staying in this pseudo-friendship with her. And because I allowed her to guilt me, I spent another year of my life trying to motivate, encourage, support and help her see that if the glass is half empty, then it could be half full. I pretty much wasted my damned time…
I had to think long and hard on this friendship. It was draining me. I dreaded texting or calling because I knew that all I would get from her was complaints. I had to darn near light candles, burn incense and pray to the patron saints to get my mind right to deal with her. I would hope that my calls would go to voicemail when I rang her line because I truly did not want to deal with her negative energy anymore. She was draining me. She was killing my spirit. And something had to be done.
But…I promised to be a loyal friend…
But at what cost?
I thought long and hard. And I thought some more. And then I thought some more. And I came to a conclusion: She had to go.
Yes, we had a thriving friendship at one point. Yes we had loads of fun together and our kids had fun together too. But we are working wives and mothers and life has a way of getting in the way of the things we want to be free to do and hitting us with those things that we MUST do and sometimes, those things don’t work in concert with one another. Sometimes, we have to rearrange our wants to handle our needs…and that’s okay…because the one thing that I have learned in life is that all situations are temporary situations. Nothing is forever. Its all in how we handle them. So when our lives took us in separate directions, I never doubted that we would reconnect. I never doubted our friendship. I never doubted the loyalty…until I was unfriended and blocked and then subjected to a year of negative energy.
I had to tell myself that in my apology and extension of myself in trying to revive the friendship, I had proven my loyalty. I had proven my commitment to the friendship. That in her constant complaining and blame placing, she had proven her commitment to being stuck in past perceived wrongs and wanting me to pay for the hurts she feels she has suffered. I realized that our friendship had run its course and that her negative energy and refusal to move on was stagnating any hope for a return to happier times or true reconnection. I realized that time and time again, I had opened myself up only to have her stab me with words of accusation and anger over and over again. I realized that she was happy living in her angry bubble and was so used to being a Negative Nancy and a Debbie Downer, it had become her new normal and she didn’t want anything different. So the positive outs that I offered her would never be received. My reality: She was dead weight on my life line and I had to cut the rope.
So often, we stay in relationships that have run their course due to an ill-conceived sense of loyalty and commitment when in reality, we should get the hell outta dodge! We see the signs early on, but feel a sense of obligation to try to “help” the other person. We feel that we are less than a true friend if we walk away and so we subject ourselves to mental and emotional damage from a person who is angry, bitter and manipulative. We must recognize when it is time to let go and move on…then let go and move on…without guilt. We must recognize our own self worth and know that when someone–even our closest friends–treats us in a manner that is unwarranted, unnecessary, unkind and with disregard for our feelings and friendship, there is NO friendship and its time to move on. Staying in a toxic relationship will only create tension, stress and negative energy. Nothing good will come out of it. Its like planting rotten fruit and expecting a great harvest. Rotten fruit cannot produce anything but the death of itself. The same is with a rotten relationship.
If you find yourself in the ocean of life and your friend is pulling your lifeline down with negative energy, a negative disposition, a pessimistic view…it is time to cut the rope and let that friend go. Do not allow a person who means you no good to drown you in the sorrows of THEIR life…do not allow yourself to be drowned in THEIR negativity. Choose life and cut the rope.