Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Lessons I Learned From My Friend Break Up

I have written and re-written a version of this post half a dozen times.  And I still can't quite get it right.  But the gist is that I used to be friends with a girl I will refer to as Z.  And now we are not friends.  She views us as in a fight.  I do not.  I never thought we were fighting.  I thought her behavior made it clear she didn't want to be friends with me and I used that as my graceful exit from the stage.  I fully agreed that it was time for us to part ways.

Our relationship, from my perspective, was never very healthy.  Most of the time if felt one way and toxic.  But she was going through a terrible season in life and really didn't have another source of support.  I could never in good conscious walk away from someone in that situation.  I hope that others might do the same for me if roles were reversed. 

Let me be clear, that we did get along and have fun together.  Just like any relationship, be it with a friend, boyfriend, family member or co-worker, not every moment was bad and dramatic.  We had some great times together.  Sometimes it just takes a speck of drama though to realize it's not the right relationship for you.

I was on egg-shells at all times.  She was always scolding me for not being available enough, not calling her back soon enough, having too many meetings, etc.  She told me I needed to make a resolution to be better at calling her back.  I started every other conversation apologizing for not calling enough.  Even though I completely dislike talking on the phone- it is my least favorite way to communicate with most people.  She asked me to participate in things that made me uncomfortable and when I did it all, even that wasn't enough and correct.  I tried my best to be a supportive friend but it was just never good enough, regardless of how many times we spoke on the phone each week.  I was never what she needed from a friend.

We also have completely different personalities.  She is extremely outgoing.  I have never met anyone at any age who can make friends as quickly as Z.  That quality about her just amazes me.  While I can hold my own in a meeting and have no issues with public speaking, I tend to be fairly reserved at the core.  I really struggle as an adult to make new friends.  Z is very comfortably outspoken.  I am forever worried I am going to say the wrong thing in life and as a result, hold back too much.  Z is very dramatic and expressive.  When someone upsets her, even in the smallest and unintentional way, she will full force let them know via text, email and sometimes phone and then call me to tell me all about it in every detail.  She is always fighting with someone.  Usually multiple people.  Did anyone see the Betty Brodrick movie on Lifetime last weekend?  I only watched about half of it, but the spinning, dramatic and sometimes irrational personality completely reminded me of Z.  I internalize everything and hate confrontation.  I hate even hearing about others having confrontations.  I stopped watching RHanycity because it felt like one big fight fest.  I just want everyone to get along or fake it 'til you make it.  While Z makes friends with great ease, she also cuts people out of her life on a pretty regular basis.  I refer to friends of 10 years as new friends.  I keep my circle small but strong and for a lifetime.  I mean, it took me a long time to make those friends!

As far as personality, there is no right or wrong.  No one is good or bad, better or worse.  We are who we are.  But we are in fact very, very different.  Our approach to life is polar opposite.  And this started weighing heavily on me a long while back. 

I started to feel ashamed by some of my behaviors and conversations with Z.  She asked me to be a source of input in a way that made me sick to my stomach.  But the worst part is that in many ways I went along with it.  She didn't make me- I agreed.  I felt incredibly uncomfortable by her behaviors too.  For my taste, she just takes things too far and feels revenge is more important than anything else.  For a long time I explained it away as just her method of coping with a really miserable season of life.  But over the last year it has become clear that she has shown me a truthful version of herself all along.  I was the one who didn't listen.  Maya Angelou says that when people tell you who they are, believe them.  Z's behaviors had nothing to do with a life season.  Those are just her routine behaviors.  As much as Z wanted me to be different, I wanted the same in the other direction. 

I do not want to make Z out to be a horrible person.  She is not.  But I was not happy with who I was in our friendship.  I was frequently crossing my own proverbial line

So when something completely ridiculous came up out of the blue and my attempt to explain that we are different people with different approaches in life failed, I took that as my cue to walk away.  I don't like drama and I didn't want to fight.  The situation was so unexpected but in a way, I knew the day would eventually come.  I knew our friendship would end due to me not being a good enough puppet.  With her sending a nasty text over a non-issue.  I just wanted it all to be over and to allow both of us to walk away unharmed.  I took great care to journey back via the high road.  I left it with nice things said (on my end) and well-wishes.  I said nothing I regret and for that I feel grateful.  I am not engaging in the argument.  I have agreed to disagree and just quickly moved on.  I never fought.  I realized it was over, said my peace, and that was that. 

This is getting much longer than I anticipated but I do want to note a few lessons that I am taking away from this break-up.  I have had a tough few months, personally.  I am more determined than ever to learn from my many mistakes.  When you know better, you do better, right?

* My inner voice is the most important voice.  It's my conscious and God and life lessons and the good angel and ideal morals and goals and more, all rolled into one.  When I don't listen, things never turn out well.

* I take full responsibility for this situation.  Not because of the dumb thing she accused me of.  But because I agreed to do all sorts of things and have all sorts of conversations and keep all sorts of enormous secrets that weren't exactly ethical.  Or not by my own personal standards.  I had knowledge of a variety of things that I consider to be way outside of my comfort zone.  I tried to encourage my reasoning to Z, but the bottom line is that we are just so different and never agreed on how to best handle matters. 

* You really do catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  This was our biggest difference.  And in my opinion, the reason she ended our friendship.  But I maintain that I am right.  Being nice and polite and kind is always the better way to go about life.  Or it is for me, anyway.

* A relationship should never involve long term egg shell walking. 

* I am not comfortable in a relationship that involves me feeling guilty about activities outside of that relationship.  I allowed myself to feel this way for so long and I am ashamed that I never successfully did anything to change things.

* Your friends are, in part, a reflection of yourself.  If you don't like what you see, do something to change it. 

* Not all friends are meant to last more than a season.  Z and I had a nice friendship.  But it was no longer working for either one of us.  And so we parted ways.  I will remember our fun times fondly and hold no ill will.  I do hope our paths cross again.  But for now, we get to focus on other aspects of our lives. 

* Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.  Or the popular thing.  Or the well-understood thing.  But none of that matters if you know it is the right thing.

And with that, I close the chapter on Z.  I told her that I was sad she ended our friendship but accepted it and will always have big buckets of love in my heart for her and her sweet daughter.  I meant every word.  I absolutely wish her every happiness and joy that the world has to offer.  She has a completely fantastic little girl to focus on and I know they will both do amazing things in their future. 

But this summer, I am re-focusing on me.  I've earned it.  I owe it to myself.  I'm less nervous and more excited about my life than I have been in years.  Onward and upward.  I can't wait!


Lisalulu said...

amen to that

southernbellejm said...

Sometimes the end of friendship is really like the ending of a relationship, well, because it is a relationship between friends. you can't walk on eggshells your whole life! good for you:)

Amy - OPC said...

I can relate to this post more than you could imagine. Thank you for sharing.

Tammy B said...

It sounds like you did the right thing. If you always feel like you are walking on eggshells, it's not worth it.

mFw said...

Good for you!!! Z sounds crazy! Hope you're doing better with her out of your life!!!

Michelle said...

As hard as these times are I agree that not all friendships span a lifetime and they were for a season...those are season which help us to define who we are (or who we aren't!) (((hugs))) and stay excited about life!

cancersucks said...

I think a lot of us have had a friend like Z and can relate to your pain. I had a friend K for over 30 yrs (yes friends from toddlers on). A lot of your story was same as ours. She lied a lot. I finally couldn't take it. I ended our friendship. When I had cancer she called me crying and crying. But it was about her her her. I have moved on and have less stress wo her friendship. You too will look back and see that you made the right decision for you. Sending hugs and blogging friendship your way!

Mrs.K loves pink and green said...

I feel like I could have written this post.This has just recently happened to me w/a friend I have had since elementary school.(I am now 49yrs).I could NOT take the lying,lying and lying. She was always only about her,her and her(even when we had a good friend dying.I just couln't take the madness anymore,and she actually has the nerve to tell people it was MY fault..Thank you for letting me know,I am not the only one who feels this way.And for people who say,you need to not let it bother you,I can now say,as I am about to turn 50 years old,that God did not intend for friendships to be like ours was(or yours) Bless your heart and I am so happy for you...By the way,I adore your blog!!

BroncoMom said...

To reveal this information took great courage. You have made it possible for any of your readers to learn for your experience. Thank you for sharing.
Have a great weekend!

Charlotte said...

I completely agreee! Thanks for sharing!

Suburban Princess said...

Why are you giving this situation this kind of energy? Move on and dont give it another thought. There are plenty of people who will be positive forces in your life.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

SP- because this is my blog. My journal. I am very determined to learn lessons that life throws at me as to not repeat mistakes down the road. For me, it feels important. I've very much moved on but I want to take the time to reflect back too.

Pretty Personal Gifts said...

I can relate to your situation. It took me years to figure out that it's ok to let go of a friendship like this. Glad to know I'm not alone. Thanks for the great post.

Nicole said...

I wish I had read this awhile ago. I made the mistake of reaching out to an old friend- who I knew was toxic. Luckily she kindly rejected me and I see that is for the best.

Kate said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing. I had to have a friend break up last year. It was very difficult but my friend sounded a lot like Z. I didn't handle it quite as well as you did (I ignored her calls and texts until finally I sent her a facebook message). But I was honest (while being polite and focusing on the positive). She wrote me back with "Thank you. I wish you the best" or something like that. I was so relieved it was over!

Heather said...

I think you are absolutely looking at this the right way!


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