In a recent TMI post I alluded to a fall out with a long term friend. Without going into to much detail this was probably one of the deepest friendships I had experienced in my life. As a result of the combination of the isolated location of my childhood home and my parent’s self absorption I grew up without learning exactly how to make a friend. I have never had a BFF or ever really a lot of friends. It is something that has always bothered me. I am very self conscious of not being cool or even feeling like people would actually like to be friends with me. So when a person comes along that does get past all of the layers and seems to get me it is a rare experience.
Over the years this friendship probably showed a lot of signs of not being all that healthy. Certainly my “friend” had her own childhood traumas which had left scars. But I chose to accept them and make allowances. Over the last few years we “drifted apart”. At least that is how she explained it. I more saw it as her finding other people who were more interesting to hang out with but po-ta-to / po-tah-to.
Then, as the universe tends to, we seemed to be pushed back together again. She started making overtures and I accepted them, cautiously. She insisted on telling everyone who would listen about our long term friendship and trying to make it up to me by telling other people how cool she thought I was. It felt a bit weird, if I am being honest, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
It seemed like things were getting back to the way they used to be. But as our good friend Pandora knows, once the box is open you can’t close it again. I had lived my life and grown as a person. Likewise her life had gone on and she had changed slightly as well. The fit was never going to be the same.
While dealing with her traumas and life struggles she had said and done some things that caused some mutual friends to be, at best, wary of her. Some people she had downright ostracised. This caused issues. I had to negotiate social situations where I was basically forced to choose between groups of friends. It was frustrating. I wanted to be loyal to this person who had been in my life for so long but I also needed to take care of myself. I had grown and that meant I had a better sense of my value. I knew that I deserved to be treated better. A friend who treats you as something that can be picked up and dropped at their convenience is not really a friend.
I wasn’t sure how to deal with her. I had started to realise that just letting her drift in and out was not really going to work this time. I deserved better but the part of me that avoids confrontation mad me avoid addressing the issue. Until I found myself right up against it. I had seen some things that told me she was very unwell. She needed more than a good friend, she needed to see a professional. Somehow I found the courage to tell her my thoughts.
Her reaction was not entirely unexpected. I guess I should have realised that such a self centred person would not have considered that their actions and attitudes contributed to their life catastrophes. In her mind self help memes and feel good Facebook pages were all the counselling she needed.
She made the end of our friendship official on Facebook.
Because of our history I was surprised at how all of this affected me. I was forced to say out loud some things that had bothered me. To name some of her behaviour as abusive. Even now it seems weird to say it. She emotionally abused her husband and her children. She made them feel afraid to express themselves in their own house. She made them feel as if their ideas and needs were less than hers. I wondered if I had failed them by glossing over this stuff. As I looked around with more open eyes I saw how my opinion of people had been coloured by hers. How I had dismissed people because of her say so and “facts” she had provided. I felt duped and I questioned my integrity.
On a deeper level I mourned the loss of that friendship. At one time it had been a healthy one. Even if it hadn’t been for several years. It was once and I had lived in hope that it would be again sometime. This is where the self love comes in. Loving yourself sometimes requires you to push people away when you can see that they are harming you. Even when they are people you once loved. Even when you feel as if you don’t have a lot of friends. Self love is about making conscious choices to be your authentic self and not someone else’s play thing. In the long run you will become stronger and more self sufficient and you will attract the same type of people. Suddenly you will also have friends who will treat you like someone worth something.
This post is part of Wicked Wednesday’s final Bingo prompt. The square I have chosen for this post is “Self Love”