"Respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything
that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy."
Pretty brutal, huh? At first glance it seems to be one of the most self centered pieces of advice. But the more I think about it, the more the truth in it is apparent. Every person you meet is a lesson. A lesson in humility, kindness, pain and happiness. Some of those grow you as a person. A tumultuous relationship grows you. It shows you what you will and will not accept. It shows you what you are capable of. It shows you the worst in life and the best. But once it no longer teaches you and only drags you down. You have to learn the final and hardest lesson. To love yourself enough to walk away.
I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately. Those that know me, know that I'm not a person with a huge amount of close friends. I'm a friendly person for the most part. But I keep a very small group of close friends. This is on purpose. When I'm in a friendship, I give it my all. I rarely do things by halves.
This also means I invest deeply in my friendships. If I'm close to a person, it takes a lot for me to sever the friendship completely. Because to me, it's akin to severing myself. My friends are my family. I love and respect my friends more than most of my family. Because the relationships are healthier, they are more open and loving and there is more support and respect.
One of my closest friend is a man that I met through my ex. We remained friends after the split and have built a strong friendship. I count him and his wife as my family. He knows me better than most people and still values me. He wants nothing from me but my friendship. We fight. He annoys the shit out of at least once a month or so. (And boy, do I annoy the crap out of him!) But there is respect. There is trust and there is no competition. We celebrate each other's triumphs and we mourn each others losses. I know that no matter what happens to me, he will be there and visa versa. I base my ideals of friendship off of my friendship with him. And I strive to be as deserving of his friendship as I can.
Last year I made the choice to sever a close friendship. It was one of the hardest things I did last year, and if you were around at any point last year, you know how big that was. Since last year was one of the darkest in my life.
I didn't make the choice lightly. It was several months coming. J wasn't a bad person. But her life was so dramatic, so full of strife, that I knew if I stayed in the friendship, it would cause me emotional and mental harm.
We were neighbors. We met while our spouses were deployed together and neither of us worked at the time. I've become quite the homebody lately. I enjoy my solitude and function well alone. She would make sure to pull me out of the house. We would go to Target, we would grab dinner, it started out very nice. We have many good memories that I will cherish. However, over the next couple of years we drifted apart. I went back to work and we both eventually moved to new houses. Our spouses deployed on the same rotation again, with my husband leaving earlier than hers. The day her husband left, she came over and our friendship seemed to take off again. I was working full time, my daughter was in school, and she had started college. We hung out, we talked and texted. It was nice.
She began an extramarital affair soon after her husband deployed. I knew of it, I met the guy and I tried to be supportive as I knew she was confused and I've made bad choices in the past and needed my friends more than anything at that point. I wouldn't say this was the beginning of the end. But I do know that it definitely fractured things. Since we first became friends she had said (possibly in a joking manner) that I was a bad friend. That my marriage was wrong because my husband let me do what I wanted and that he worshipped the ground I walked on. Many times she said he was a pushover. (Which, he really isn't. He just respects me) I brushed it off. I knew her marriage wasn't great so I didn't really like rubbing mine in. I knew she was joking for the most part, but I also knew there was an undercurrent of malice in her words. After she introduced me to The Guy, she started in on snide off handed comments about my appearance. While out at dinner one night, the manager of the restaurant was being friendly with me. Nothing inappropriate, but joking around and being friendly. She commented in a way that really made me stop. She turned to him and said "Yeah, she's skinny but she has a huge ass don't you think?" It struck me as very hateful and competitive. Why would a friend say something like that? Why did it matter what I looked like? Was she trying to compete for this stranger's attention? I was simply being friendly to the guy. But the look in her eyes was something I did not like. Once I had gone over to her house for a sleepover. The next day, she spent the entire day in her bedroom with The Guy while I cared for her child.
Her relationship with The Guy ended not long afterwards. Our spouses were set to return shortly as it was. I talked to The Guy randomly and got both sides of the break up and realized that she had told us drastically different stories of her husband. While I had asked several times if he was physically abusive, she said no, and that he was just an ass with a temper. She had told The Guy that he was physically abusive.
Sometime after the breakup of the affair, she had told The Guy that he was no longer allowed to speak to me. (I'm not sure why. I had Zero interest in the kid, but she felt threatened somehow) That became the end of our friendship. When I looked back and realized the friendship had solely been about her for a while. Her affair, her issues, her life. There was never any balance. It was emotionally draining, I was emotionally drained by her issues and they began to negatively affect my work and personal life. I looked back and could not think of the last time she had said a nice thing to me or inquired about my life. It had been months. I knew hanging on to the friendship would only drag me down.
Was it selfish? Yes. It was. I abandoned a friend I genuinely cared about when she needed friends the most.
Do I regret it? No. When I made the decision to sever the friendship, I felt relief. I no longer had someone telling me how horrible of a friend I was. I no longer had to stress about the next ball of drama exploding in my lap. I still care for her. I hope she is well. I know she recently had a child. I am pretty sure by her husband. I do not know if she ever told him of her affair. I seriously doubt it. But that was her choice. I hope her life is more figured out. I hope she is in a better place. I love her and her daughter A. But I could no longer stay. It was quickly becoming toxic. I worry about her. I worry about her child as I saw things that concerned me. But I had to let go. I had to respect myself enough to walk away from an unhealthy situation. And for that, I am saddened. I wish I could have stayed. I wish I could have been stronger. I let the friendship die. I could have spoken up sooner. But I didn't and that I will always regret.
I miss her. I miss our friendship in the early days and months. She is a sweet girl. But I was not the friend she needed. Nor was she what I needed in the end.
I have another friend that I worry is heading that way. And it pains me that it's getting to that point. But I have to ask myself if its mutually beneficial. Or am I simply giving and giving and draining myself. Can I truly be a good friend when it is so one sided? I know this person truly cares for me and loves me. And I wouldn't sever the relationship as completely as I did with J. But I've lost too many tears over trying to figure out how to make this work. I only have so much of myself to give.