I let go of one of my oldest friends last night. It was not an easy decision to make as I have known him for 35 years. I had a dysfunctional relationship with him. He was the poor victim type and I was the big rescuer type, and we got stuck in those roles out of habit, till I decided to step out of mine. I used to enjoy my role as do gooder rescuer though, it made me feel useful and I had a habit of befriending some very damaged people.
My dad always used to say, ‘the haves help the have nots!’. This early conditioning was almost like and order that I followed, till I started really loving myself and realised I don’t have to justify my existence in that way any more. If I want to help people I can choose to, and not feel compelled to collect wounded birds wherever I go.
I tried to change the parameters of this particular relationship to get it onto a more healthy footing for me, but he was having none of that and he reacted badly to me putting down some new boundaries and became very aggressive towards me.
Even now with all this work I have been doing on being kind and compassionate towards myself and learning to love myself there were moments of doubt, of thinking I would just put up with his behaviour some more, of thinking he would change and it would get better. I have carried this loyalty idea in my belief system that the people you know early on in life I will always know no matter what and we travel through life together. I have viewed my friendships, no matter how unhealthy, as permanent fixtures. But not now. I see that there is a natural ebb and flow in life, a rising and falling, breathing in and out and a time for being friends and then a time not to be around some people so much any more.
I was thinking back on another friend yesterday who I got rid of recently, who 25 years ago spat on my dining table in a drunken bad mood! It is so strange to me now to think that I carried a friendship on with that guy till only a few months ago, when my new level of kindness to myself demanded a line was drawn.
I have really let people behave badly towards me and still carried on friendships with them. I am watching here my own tendency to occupying victim status by making them the persecutors. And once again, there is nowhere else to go but to take full responsibility for the very active part I played. As I did not love myself I did not allow friends into my life who are very loving towards me. It is that simple.
Oh compassion for us all!
This is really what I want to get to here as I have been struggling with feelings of anger towards these people I have let go of when it is people I have helped a lot and who have responded with fury to my new boundaries. That is perfectly human and acceptable and I do not try to deny or squash those feelings. And also I want to remind myself of compassion here again, for myself for them and for us all. There is a mini mourning process at the ending of friendships. I am learning how to let go with love in a mature way.
We are doing our best, all of us are. There is no blame or judgement that is valid. I simply need to mind my own business and do what is right for me in this situation, and stop trying to control the responses of others, or try to keep them happy or liking me. You can be true to yourself and try and keep people liking you I have discovered.
So today I will do an exercise in sending these people I have left some kindness and compassion thoughts by using this mantra. Each person I have residual resentment towards I will direct the following thoughts. May you be happy, may you be well, may you be safe, may you be at ease. May we be happy, may we be well, may we be safe, may we be at ease.
Thank you for coming along for this ride with me and listening as I unravel my knots.
(Picture of my son when we lived in South Africa).