This can be painful. It is for me at the moment. Even if some relationships are not good for us we can be so attached to them. They are part of our landscape, especially very old associations. As I have changed and grown I have found it increasingly difficult to be myself with some old friends. With some people it can be a natural drifting away and a natural lessening of contact. However sometimes we have to take a stand, especially if we are being abused in some way or our boundaries are being crossed.
This morning I sent the following message to a friend I have known for 30 years.
“I care about you but I need to draw a line with you. I no longer want to hear your complaints about life. I realise that every time I have a conversation with you I end up feeling drained. So I apologise if this is hard to hear but please choose someone else to complain to”.
I feel so relieved that I have honoured myself by drawing this line and establishing a healthy boundary. I cannot tell you how difficult that was though. I know how crushed he will feel reading it, and my heart is heavy about that. I have never before said such a thing to him and instead always listened to his stream of complaints and done my best to help. But it wasn’t working and he stayed the same and I felt exhausted every time we talked.
Here is an article about Chronic Complainers and how to deal with them. It helped reading this. And I should say that complaining is something I’m looking at in myself too and becoming more conscious of.
As I am caring for myself a lot more recently, over the last 2 years have been letting go of people in my life with whom I have an unhealthy dynamic. (There is almost nobody left!) I used to have many friends who were very needy and to whom I provided a supportive role. The payoff for me was that I got to feel helpful, superior, useful and good about myself for being such a nice, generous person. (It came from our family dynamic, and my role in the family).
In recent years I have been ‘rescuing’ myself and that has had far reaching consequences for every area of my life, not least relationships. Since I began to care about myself and my wellbeing much more, I am more particular about the people I spend time with. I also feel far less responsible for other people’s emotional state, and I realise it is not my job to make people happy or save anyone! How arrogant that position was anyway.
It is difficult to change or end friendships. I am giving myself a lot of self compassion in this process. Endings bring with them a temporary void, a mourning, even if we are the ones to depart, and to just be with the feelings and that space requires patience, courage and care. Emotions arise, and then they leave. Thoughts from ‘the inner critic’ can be harsh and judgemental (‘WHAT! you are rejecting someone who is unhappy and NEEDS you, how COULD you?!’). Sometimes unpleasant experiences cannot be avoided if we are committed to remaining honest with our own truth.
So for now I spend a lot of time happily and peacefully alone in the space that was previously occupied with unhealthy and unsatisfactory relationships.
How am I being Kind to Myself today? Some items on these lists are repetitive I realise, but many are daily practises now so I am including them
- Eating so healthily! a couple of tasty felafil for breakfast and some poached salmon for lunch
- Slept in newly washed bedsheets and pillowcases, something I am now doing one a week as it feels so self nurturing. (was previously once every 2 months!)
- I have a gorgeous perfumed candle lit, Rose scented for heart warming love vibes
- I cleaned out the bit of the washing machine where you put the powder in which was really dirty, just noticing these things more as I care for my environment.
- I am regularly forgiving any harsh thoughts that arise and letting them go without judging myself
- Im enjoying my frequent mindfulness reminders, and have increased their frequency recently to receive even more!
- Accepting a dinner invitation tonight from new friends
- Vacuumed the house to give myself a clean clear space to be in
- Listening to a Tara Brach talk or meditation each night before I fall asleep
- Remembering gratitude regularly throughout the day. Feeling grateful to have this space and freedom to explore new ways of being, and for the support of others going through a similar process.