I’ve talked before about how much the connections we have in life affect our outlook and what happens in our lives. And I’ve talked about how important it is to be careful about which connections you choose to continue; sometimes, breaking a bad connection that just isn’t good for you is the only sane thing you can do – no matter how hard it is to do it.
For 27 years, there was a connection in my life that was not good for me; a connection that did nothing for me except generate fear and pain. And I let it continue for almost three decades because I didn’t know what else to do. I was too afraid to put an end to it, too afraid of what would be said to me by other people if I chose to cut that connection. Too afraid that other people would see me as a bad person if I broke off this connection.
But recently, I came to realize that it had to happen. I couldn’t keep this connection going. But every time I thought about having that conversation, it left my stomach in knots — so much that it was actually painful. I felt like throwing up. The anxiety, stress, and fear were sky-high. I was so scared to even consider what I thought would be a horrible encounter that would inevitably result in tears and possibly even a physical confrontation (wouldn’t be the first time that happened with this particular individual).
And I would get so angry with myself over how much power I still let this person have in my life – I was not a child anymore, damn it – why was I still so afraid? What was this person going to do to me, really? And even if I got hit, at this stage of my life I would have the individual charged – and to hell with what everyone else thought about it.
It took almost three decades to build up the courage to cut that connection. Beyond my fear, I really didn’t want to hurt this person, despite what they had put me through for so long, and I didn’t want to get into a conflict situation. I hate conflict. I hate yelling. And I hate feeling like I’m in danger. And this whole thing had the potential for all of the above.
But the day it happened it was extraordinary. I had made a decision, and I was so calm; so unruffled; so matter of fact. I did it. At one point, this person asked me point-blank if I had any interest in maintaining any kind of connection. I looked this person square in the eye and said, very calmly, “No. I don’t.”
There was no violence, and no yelling. I did get subjected to a rant about how selfish and inconsiderate I am and how I never think about anyone else besides myself. It’s a tune I’ve been listening to, in infinite variations, since I was twelve years old.
But you know what? I don’t have to listen to it anymore…
photo credit: pixabay.com cc (modified by me)
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You go girl! I can only imagine if this was a parent, sibling or family member.
Friends come and go and I recently came to this conclusion about one of then recently myself. She asked to crash at my place for a night because she told me outright that she could not possibly ask for two nights, so she pretty much knew she was being invasive. There were signs I did not like this arrangement at all, so I invited other friends to join us for brunch the next morning as a buffer. I imagined confronting her while she was over, like why has she not married her boyfriend of 8 years who she is dying to marry but he is hesitant, why does she not have a cell phone, why does she crash on people’s couches, as she is not 20 anymore? What was up with this friend of mine? She changed so much over the years and is not the person I knew, so it is best I not contact her anymore. How does she enhance my life anyway? I was not sure anymore, so I followed my gut. It turns out I need to join my husband over that weekend anyway, so all the plans were canceled.
Are you kidding me? I would never have let a friend get away with what this person put me through. I would never have been friends with someone like that in the first place. It was an adult in a position of authority in my life.
Same principle applies to dysfunctional relationships with friends or anyone else, though — if the person isn’t good for you, then breaking that connection is the best thing you can do for yourself.