When should you let a friendship go?
The burden of choice, unfriending someone you love, and this week's BOOK GIVEAWAY: How We Heal by Alexandra Elle
This week, I am going to try something different. The topic of de-friending really resonated with people last week. I got more emails than I ever have before, with people expressing a wide range of awkward feelings. From people grappling with the guilt of defriending someone they still love, but can’t be friends with anymore, to folks feeling the pain of abandonment from people they felt they could trust. In this new world of “chosen” family, how do we navigate the option to stay or go with the people we love?
I am going to respond to 3 different perspectives on the loss of friendship.
Lavendermoon writes: “I've recently been thinking about a formerly close friend who has completely left my life.”
Kim writes: “I suffer so much from these difficult moments of fighting for a friendship because I love them so deeply but realizing this love hasn’t been matched & is actually harmful to my personal well-being.”
Sarah writes: “I find in moments of hurt, it’s easy to give up and blame the other person or say the relationship is “toxic.”
If you are going through a relationship that is ebbing or flowing in different directions, I hope this helps you re-frame and understand where the other people in the dance are at. Ultimately, it is up to you to answer the question: should you stay or go?
Also, this week we are celebrating Alexandra Elle’s new book, “How We Heal.” I will be interviewing her on Wednesday to talk about self-healing practices that uncover your inner wisdom and help you feel ready to begin again. Comment here if you are interested in receiving the book:
Lavendermoon writes: I've recently been thinking about a formerly close friend who has completely left my life. We had disagreements in the past with hurt on both sides but we'd processed and moved past it. I feel honestly mystified and hurt by her (recent) silence. I'm trying to remember that if I've done all I can to express interest, be a good friend, reach out myself, and even create opportunities to a friend to express and process hurt feelings with me, there's really no more I can do at that point if those efforts are not seen and reciprocated. I'm also trying to recall that I deserve kindness, too... it feels like I've done a lot of soul-searching and self-work while she's hurt me just as many times with no effort to patch things up, and yet I blame myself now that she's doing this. Not fair or kind to myself, at all.
This is hard. From what I gather you are feeling like you have been reaching out for connection and acceptance and belonging, and this person who you were close to is not sending that back. A naive theory that I live by (that is actually harmful in this situation) is that the energy you give out will come back to you. But it sounds like the opposite is happening to you. That what you are giving is not coming back. And this is painful. When people have stopped their friendship with me, which has happened several times, it is like losing a person - there is physical pain in my body, my jaw clenches and I eat. I feel worthless. I avoid grocery stores that they could be at. I think I see them in places out of the corner of my eye. I obsess. On the could have been, what I could have done differently. Why won’t they just return my calls? Why won’t they just tell me they understand?
Recently I have been thinking about how as I age, I am able to be more honest in the ways that I show up for people, and that might not be the way that they need me to be at the moment. I am at a stage now where I am noticing my actions and the impulses behind these actions, and can take note of how people receive them. They are often not aligned. If I am lucky, I hope that I will be able to learn how to support people I want to support in the ways that they want to be supported. This has not happened yet.
The other complication is I want to be there for everyone, but this is not possible. I end up being there for people I don’t really know and not the people who I am actually closest with. They say it is better to have a few good friends and not a million acquaintances… how do we choose who to show up for if we are in a place where everyone is in great need right now? If someone knows, tell me…
I hope you find someone who appreciates the love you have to give and sends it back tenfold. That your communication styles mesh and your season in life is in alignment. I wish you care and attention to every detail you want to share.
Kim writes: I suffer so much from these difficult moments of fighting for a friendship because I love them so deeply but realizing this love hasn’t been matched & is actually harmful to my personal well being. Definitely a lot of introspection needed to take accountability for times when I do harm, even when my intentions have been good but contributed to the distress of the friendship. I’m sad to feel that I have to limit my love for such experiences with boundaries and defriending, … the key to understand how this pain is part of loving. It’s grief for what could’ve been.
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