I stopped keeping up with an old friend; someone I have known for many years. I feel a bit guilty for letting go of relationships, no matter how destructive they have been. In my forties, I started to look at life, love, loyalty and friendship more closely. I found myself in several abusive friendships. The sad thing was, I put my heart and soul into these friends. When I opened my eyes, I began to see that keeping people around who are needy takers, compulsive liars and quick to betray was unhealthy. As I began to work on my own emotional and physical health, the drama was no longer compelling. Over the past fifteen years, I have begun to attract healthy caring relationships–creating sharp contrast to those early relationships.
My friend believes that her friends should “support” her no matter what. Through the years, she has engaged in a host of fool hardy, destructive and poorly conceived endeavors. Some have resulted in pain and suffering for her, which required us to rally around and try to help her “fix” the situation, while others have had significant destructive effects on those around her, such as the time she cheated with one of our friend’s husband. To make matters worse, our friend had just had a baby. And then there was how she treated me, the “loyal” one.
At the outset of many of these situations, she would either seek my advice, or justify her decision which would generally already have been set in motion. When I or one of the others in our friend circle point out the issues and potential consequences, we were ostracized. Through the years, my friend has fewer and fewer friends, with my being among the last to step away.
Recently, we had a conversation in which she said she was sad to have so few remaining friends, and doesn’t understand why there is no one left to support her. She blames us for not being good enough friends to stand by her. I disagree. Some of us have just grown older and wiser–no longer wanting to enable others, tired of train wrecks, tired of dancing around the elephant in the room.
I have come to see that this is not friendship. This is not healthy for either of us, and though I have some sort of misguided loyalty, it’s time to let that go. In this phase of my life, many things are changing. I realize I can’t “fix” my friends, I can only “fix” myself. There are many wonderful people out there to be friends with who aren’t hurtful. I’ll have more of those, please.