I’ve lost a few people I called friends over the past year. They didn’t die or anything like that. Death might have been an easier transition. Instead, they engaged in behaviors that I could no longer tolerate, directing those behaviors at me until I simply could not remain in the relationships and maintain my health. I was forced to take a stand for my own quality of life and allow the friendships to end. Of course, the endings were not without drama.
Each person had their own way of acting out. I had observed these people directing their respective behaviors toward others and knew it would eventually be “my turn.” My relationships were working with these friends. I felt no reason to “correct” them as I believe we are all learning lessons and cannot possibly do this thing called life “wrong.”
What I’m finding most interesting is my guilty feelings of relief. No more clamoring phone calls from early morning until late at night, no more outrageous attacks followed by equally outrageous pleas for forgiveness, no more people harassing my other friends because they don’t agree with their views… no more drama.
Yes, I feel deeply relieved not to have this going on around me.
I’m surprised I feel so guilty about it.
I used to have a knee-jerk reaction to guilt. If I felt guilty, I immediately assumed I was wrong and set about changing things so I no longer felt guilty. You can probably imagine my stunning resemblance to a door-mat.
I have new patterns these days. Now I take out the guilt and look it over a piece at a time.
Guilt: If you were a better friend, you would be more understanding.
Response: Friendship is no excuse to violate boundaries, engage in abusive behaviors, manipulate, or otherwise act inappropriately. I would not do these things to my friends, and there is no reason to allow my friends to do them to me. Being understanding is one thing, not taking care of my own boundaries is quite another.
Guilt: You know, they just needed your help and you walked away.
Response: That was a powerful hook for a very long time. As I take a step back from the emotions of the situations, I realize that all the “helping” really never helped. No matter how many frantic phone calls I took, no matter how often I listened to the drama, and gave input when asked, no matter what I took on myself… they still stayed in the messes they created. My “helping” probably only “helped” them to justify their messes even more.
Guilt: You shouldn’t be so happy to be rid of them.
Response: My happiness is not a result of being “rid of them.” I love them and I miss them. I am happy to be rid of the drama they brought with them. In my perfect world they will get past their dramas and we will be friends again.
Yes, guilt takes some very cheap shots. Fortunately, I have learned how to deal with them. I no longer need to Re-Act my old stories. I get to choose more productive thoughts and release the ones that do not serve in my growth.
Please share your thoughts. What are you releasing?