Walking Away From A Friendship . . . (Part 1)

Letting go of a friendship is never easy.  But sometimes, it’s necessary.  Unfortunately, this is a topic that has hit close to home in the last 4 years.  And every time I have to do it, I feel like I’ve taken a brick straight to the heart.  I can always feel when it’s coming to an end—and I fight it.  I fight it as long as possible.  I go over it and over it in my head, just to make sure I’m not making the wrong decision.  I’ll hold on to the friendship just in case something changes.  I want to walk away knowing I did everything in my power to make it work.  But once I have reached a wall and nothing changes, I make a clean break.  Then my grieving begins.  And I most certainly grieve.  I grieve as long as I need to.  And when I feel like I have grieved enough, I move on.  I call it grieving because once the friendship is over, they don’t exist in my world anymore.  It might sound harsh, but if I don’t do that, it’s like a daily reminder.  I treat it much like a break up with a lover.  Not everyone understands this but that’s okay.  I am the one who has to live with it and feel the feelings, not anyone else.

I love hard.  I give as much as I can to every one of my friendships, and I get so disappointed when I feel like I don’t get it back.  This caused me so much heartache.  But over the years, I learned that just because others don’t want and need the same things as me doesn’t mean they aren’t good friends. This pushed me to manage my expectations.  I started putting every friend in a separate box so I would expect different things from each of them.  I still struggled.  A few months ago, a friend brought to my attention that I set “high standards” for my friends.  She was so right.  A lightbulb went off.  In this moment, I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.  THIS is what keeps me protected.  Being selective with who I keep in my inner circle and not allowing them to take advantage of me is just how I roll.  I decided that I needed to land right in the middle—keep my expectations high, but not too high.  You can’t expect someone to be perfect . . . but to HAVE a friend, you must BE a friend.   

I want to share a story.  It’s about the decision I made to let go of a once very dear friendship.  I chose this one because it’s the most recent. After a very solid friendship with little to no fighting and a lot of love, we started to butt heads.  We had several disagreements. They were mainly from a lack of communication, but nothing we couldn’t overcome. If any of my friends and I have an argument, I like to sit down, put it all out on the table, find a resolution, and move forward.  I noticed that every time we argued, I was always the one that had to reach out first about resolving it.  I am older than her, so I just chalked that up to maturity.  After I made some attempts to resolve, I started to see a side of her I had never seen.  It was so unfamiliar.  She would tell me that everything was fine, but really, she was continuing to hold a grudge.  She became selfish and extremely stubborn. It started to rule our friendship and slowly drive me away.  You can’t hold on to a grudge in a friendship.  You either move past something or you don’t.  And if you decide not to move past it, the friendship will never heal.  But I digress. Bobby and I had been talking about a weekend trip to Asheville, NC, so we asked her and her husband to come along.  Before anything was booked, I found out that I had to have major surgery during said weekend.  We rescheduled for a few months later.  “That went well!” I thought to myself.  Maybe we could get this friendship back on track.

I reached out to plan a dinner with her since my surgery would keep me out of commission for a bit.  She proceeded to tell me that she was going to Asheville. Wait, what? Didn’t we postpone?  I’m so confused. Why are you going when we already agreed to go another weekend?  What about our trip?  Am I being punked?!  I started thinking back to other situations. It became clear that when she didn’t get her way, she acted out and did hurtful things like this.  It felt like she was trying to punish me for breaking plans.  But it’s not like I just didn’t want to go, I was fucking having surgery!  And it wasn’t like we weren’t going, we already chose a different weekend!  I became very irritated with her, but again, I wasn’t ready to give up . . . until a couple weeks later.  What was the final straw?  You know that major surgery I had?  The one she knew I was having because I had to postpone the trip?  She was the only friend that didn’t reach out to check on me.  The. Only. One.  Bobby and I received calls, texts, or flowers from every single person that knew . . . but her. I was heartbroken.  I couldn’t believe that whatever she was holding on to was more important than reaching out to see if everything had gone okay.  Basically, her pride had become more important than my health. No matter how upset I was with a friend, I would have never done something so cold. 

This was when I knew that I had to let go. As much as it hurt, and it did, my heart was screaming to me that it was the right call. She was no longer meeting the expectations I had set for my friends. Not only that, but I realized I was lowering the bar for her towards the end. It was a reminder of why I have them and why they are so important for me in my friendships.

———>  In part 2, I’ll discuss what I learned about a friendship ending and how I gained a new perspective.