Friday, May 4, 2007

Friendships ending

My disclaimer before this post is: this post is not about anyone who I know is currently reading this blog. I have a few IRL friends who I know are reading this so wanted to specifically mention that I'm not referring to you. So, in case you are like me and internalize just about everything, this is not about you.

I'll admit it, I've broken up with friends. It sounds odd, because typically people only break up in relationships.

But I have told friends in the past that we need to take a breather.

Sometimes,we just grow apart. It just happens. One person moves to the other side of the country, graduates, gets another job. Someone is busy with a new job where they're working a ton of overtime or they have a new baby. Sometimes we were never that close in the first place. I think this is perfectly acceptable and natural. In fact, I have friends who will apologize to me about their lack of communication and I think - hey, we both have lives.

Trust me (!), I understand.

Part of me wonders where a lot of these friends ended up. I think it's the part of
me that genuinely wants the best and cares, and also the nosy part. I tend to be pretty nosy, I like to know where everyone is and what they're doing. While it may be neither healthy nor respectful, that's the way I am. I accept it and try to watch myself from going too far over the edge.

But then there is the reverse of that equation. I have had friendships that were not healthy for many reasons. It's not that they are bad people - but we always seemed to have different understandings and different ideas. So - at one point, we may have
common ground about something. But we just grow apart. Usually, I found it had a lot to do with expectations. One person expected me to be someone I wasn't, expected too much of me - or wasn't able to give me my space - a boundary. Or - I felt like they were always complaining to me - the friendship was not a two way friendship.

For example, there was the guy in high school (not a boyfriend) who wanted to call
me every day. He was just way too intense. (I think he eventually figured things out for himself - even wrote me a letter a few years ago. So who knows). Or the out of town friend who smoked cigarettes in my front yard, flinging the butts wherever, trying to pick up random guys at a local liquor store to bring back to my house. Or the junkies who shot up heroin in my house and stole my face soap. What kind of friend steals face soap??!? Finally, the passive aggressive roommate who would say yes whenever someone needed her to drive somewhere, then b*tch about it for the next two weeks. Just a note - when someone asks you if you would be willing to do something, it's simple. Say yes or no. If you know it upsets you, say no - it saves everyone time.

In each of these situations, unfortunately our friendship was not really at a level where I could say "you're annoying the cr*p out of me!" or you're being completely disrespectful of me and my property. So I typically said it was time for a breather.

For all these people, I truly do wish them the best. I have compassion for the situations they were in - some of which were not their fault. I hope they figured their stuff out. Life is really difficult.

But I saw no reason to be walked over or on, I drew my own boundaries.

In one of the situations, where someone was complaining all the time, I tried to explain it to my friend. Hey - you need to talk to someone. Professionally. I know people in your family don't have experience with this but it's not so bad. You have a lot of issues that you need to work through - I can't help you with this. I don't know if that person found the help they were looking for - I hope they did.

It's awkward because people usually aren't that up front in our culture. And I think sometimes we should be. I think some people took me the wrong way, thought it was an issue with them. In a sense it was about them, but it was also about me too.

As a woman, I felt like the message was that I should always be available, always be helpful and caring. Sometimes I've just got to take care of myself. And give someone else the freedom to take care of themselves and that responsibility as well.


Freckle Face Girl said...

I think it is important for true friends to talk openly like that. I have a hard time biting my tongue when something seems obvious to me and I like when people are honest with me (even if I disagree). We all need check-ups and who better to get us back on the right track than friends?

Anonymous said...

Thanks FFG. What I've found is that sometimes it's very difficult to find true friends - people who are comfortable enough with themselves to be a good friend to others. It's hard to explain.

But I think it is definitely important to be honest or as honest as possible and accept disagreement.