Is this friendship really for me?
There comes in time in ones life when you have to seriously evaluate friendships and decide if it’s really for you. When your friend is always bringing the drama maybe it’s time they’ve got to go. This sounds harsh, but will there ever be a time where the drama becomes laughter? After years of friendship I recently found myself in a position where I had to evaluate the quality and purpose certain friendships bring to my life. I’m the type of person who gets heavily emotionally invested in the friendships I form, and once I let you in I will cross the ocean for you. I’m loyal to a fault, but have found myself in friendships where my loyalty and dedication was not reciprocated at all. Over the years and especially since I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression I realised that some friendships are just not worth it anymore. It doesn’t mean that those I have formed these friendships with are bad people ( that’s not what I’m saying at all), but for me the friendships just isn’t working anymore. When a friendship becomes emotionally draining and leaving you feeling like you’ve been hit by a ten ton truck you need to ask yourself if it’s really worth the emotional trauma.
Allow me to give you an example. A few months back I stood in the middle of a shopping centre with my anxiety at its peak, sweat dripping from my face, clammy skin, heart beating so hard it physically hurt, sobbing my eyes out, frozen and unable to move. My ‘friend’ saw me and said “are you ok?” All I could mutter were the words panic attack. I needed help. I needed someone to escort me outside away from the noise and the people. It felt as if the walls were closing in on me and I was about to loose control. I needed my friend to help me. Surely she would recognise my hour of need? I was visibly distressed. Her response was “oh I had five panic attacks last week. Get over it” I managed a smile and forced my short legs to walk out the shopping mall and returned to my car where I sat for what felt like hours crying my eyes out. I have replayed that scene over and over in my head trying to come up with possible positive reasons for her response, but that only left me questioning the friendship. How can you tell someone who is clearly in distress to get over it?! Anyone suffering from mental health conditions will know those are the last words we need to hear in that anxious moment. Her words were harsh and not empathetic at all.
Subconsciously I may have had doubts and questions about the friendship for a while. I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself.
Our friendship started with an amazing connection. We bonded instantly. Two bubbly personalities totally in sync with each other, laughing and joking, but then it became an emotional rollercoaster that left me drained. Suddenly everything was clouded by drama. The laughter, the funny things we did together was no longer plausible. Instead we spent our time with such an imbalance of talk time. She never asked how I was, or how my kids were.In fact whenever I started talking about my life she would hastily retreat to her other friends or unashamedly change the subject. The message was clear and I halted any further attempts in discussing anything relating to my life. She had shown no interest in my life, but freely shared all her problems with me. I never heard about her great days, those were shared with her other friends, but during her dark days which are more often than I care to share, I became her emotional whooping cushion. I’ve tried many, many times to comfort her through her struggles and told her no matter what she does there will always be judgemental people in the world and we have no control over how others react or treat us, but what we can control is our own response and that’s where our power is.
Whilst quietly suffering with my own anxiety and depressive thoughts I was unable to share this with her because my struggles were not as important as hers. Silently I suffered. I felt so alone. I invested so much of myself, my time and my emotions into a friendship that showed a complete disregard towards me. I was left heartbroken because my friend didn’t place the same value on the friendship than what I had. The mistakes I made in this friendship is that I was too available and too eager to support her through her struggles that I never set any boundaries. I missed many nights kissing my kids goodnight because I wanted to be there for her so badly and those bedtime kisses and cuddles from my kids I will never be able to get back. I never asked her why she’s shown no interest in my life and maybe I should have, but I’m content with my decision. I have made many mistakes in our friendship too. This was not an equal friendship at all and continuously having to explain why I spoke to certain people once again proved to me that my reasons for questioning our friendship was completely valid.
She’s a great woman, a great mother and wife and a great friend to others. It’s just not working for me. So in order to protect myself from further heartache I have compiled a list of warning signs for future relationships.
0. Always set boundaries
0. Stay clear if you find you have to explain why you speak to certain people
0. Don’t be a friend of convenience ( you’re only visible when you’re needed)
0. Be weary of gossip
0. If they show no interest in you stay away.
Deciding to end a friendship is not an easy task, but it was something I had to do. Hearing the words get over it was crushing and again proved that certain relationships are just not worth the hassle. Hiding away in my house showed me who really cared and through this journey I have learnt that it takes a village to support someone suffering with mental health disorders providing that village doesn’t exasperate the symptoms and when they do you find another village. It was time I took my own advise: my power is within my response. We still speak on occasion and wave to each other in passing and I’m happy with that. Although the friendship no longer exist we are coexisting in our mutual environments and I’m satisfied with it. Life is too short to hold grudges. Another valuable lesson learnt on my journey of rediscovery. My road to recovery with anxiety and depression is a long one but I’m making positive strides each day learning and enjoying the lessons life teaches me. Some friendships are just not meant for the long run and if it’s meant to be we will find away back to each other. That’s my belief and I’m sticking to it!