The pain and vulnerability of ending an unhealthy relationship.
She was always up for adventures and getting together at a moment’s notice.
Super social like me, we had fun together for years and shared our personal thoughts and challenges like in any healthy friendship. I felt I could count on her and knew she could count on me.
But surprisingly, things were not as they seemed… at all. Our friendship was about to unravel… fast.
One day at lunch, someone slipped and said something in front of me and I saw her face drop. She looked ashamed, embarrassed, and worse… caught. She’d been keeping her devaluing and confidence-killing behavior a secret from me for years, and I had no idea.
At first, I thought they must not have said what I thought I heard.
But they did. I was shocked. I felt tricked, hurt, and betrayed. All this time, I thought we were friends who had each other’s backs. But because she knew I wouldn’t be on-bored with her secret life; she hid it from me.
I could have walked away right then and there… it would have been easier.
But as a life coach, I understood it was a self-esteem issue. She didn’t feel worthy or valuable to herself or others and was doing anything she could to earn approval. I offered to help her so she could feel good about herself and end unhealthy relationships.
Her happy-go-lucky gratitude was just another people-pleasing lie. She took what I said out of context to support her behavior and stay in the disrespectful and dangerous ditch she’d dug for herself. And it wasn’t just damaging her life, it had the potential to break peoples’ hearts, and destroy entire families! I was blown away by how she didn’t seem to care about anyone else involved.
Finally, in a lengthy and uncomfortable heart-to-heart conversation, I gave her a choice… my friendship and help or her current behavior. She chose to stay on the risky path she was on disrespecting herself and others.
It felt painful and sad on my end, but at least we’d cleared the air.
She was out of alignment with my values, my business, and my reputation, and to be friends would put me out of integrity, which was completely unacceptable.
Even though some mutual friends believed it was mean to talk to her about it, I knew in my heart I valued her more than she valued herself and any ray of light I could shine might be helpful.
It’s easier to limit your time or stop hanging out with someone all together when you realize you’re not a good fit. It’s a more peaceful way of ending a negative relationship and doesn’t call anyone out for being wrong. However, I know that the feeling of anger and hurt from a negative relationship ending that way can fester and it gets dragged into the next relationship.
In hindsight, this way of bringing it to her attention in a loving manner taught me a lot.
The confidence in myself to allow someone else to determine if they wanted our friendship was new because it put me in a vulnerable, uncomfortable position. Sticking to my values and speaking them out loud felt strong and solid.
Also, the reminder that people getting their needs met in negative ways may not want to change. It can seem too monumental of undertaking, even with help. The uncertainty of change is often scarier than remaining in destructive behavior or in a unhealthy relationship.
I still missed the fun we had for a while, as things came up we would normally go to together. But ultimately, I filled the space she left with more positive friends I was sure were a good fit.
Now, keeping my values front and center allows me to get a quicker feel for the right people instead of just assuming they are who and what they say they are.
At first, I struggled with what seemed a more distrustful approach, since I’m so positive, but we have to trust ourselves first and foremost. We can literally feel who is right for our lives and who may not be. And, of course, some people come into our lives for a short time to teach us something or vice-versa and that needs to be okay too. We are all growing at different speeds and in different directions so focusing on how we want to feel around a friend helps create wise choices.