It’s always difficult when people decide to move on and the process can often be a very painful experience. A good friend of mine is in the process of making the decision whether to leave her boyfriend – the biggest part of her life for a number of years – and I sat with her tonight as she considered whether to accept a tenancy on a new house, alone. We went through the pros of staying, of which there were quite a few – it was cheaper, she wouldn’t have to move etc, and then we looked at the cons. There was just one: she was miserable.
That was enough to tell me how she was feeling, and that leaving was probably a more obvious choice. Of course, I didn’t say that at the time – it has to be her decision – but ultimately happiness should be the key factor when deciding most things. Sometimes, this can be found in the removal of toxic people from our lives, however painful it may seem at the time.
I’ve experienced several breakdowns in relationships and friendships over the years. Some were quite a slow process – no angry words were exchanged, but over time the once regular phonecalls and meet-ups gradually petered out. It’s a shame, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life that as people grow, sometimes this means growing apart from each other. Others, however, were hurtful, nasty and immediate. I’ve been the instigator of some. I remember telling a very self-centred and needy former friend after a number of incidents where she was rude and belittled me and those around me that the main reason why she had no friends, no boyfriend and no job was not because of all the ridiculous excuses that she offered, it was because she wasn’t a very nice person. I also remember finally leaving my sociopath ex-boyfriend after years of dealing with emotional abuse. I haven’t spoken to any of them since, and I’ve never regretted either decision.
I’ve also been on the other side of the proverbial coin, where I have had friendships taken away without my consent, or even my knowledge for a while. There’s a scene that always springs to mind from one of my favourite films, ‘Beaches,’ where Hillary (Barbara Hershey) deliberately ignores CC (Bette Midler), despite years of close friendship, after being aggrieved by something that CC has said to her. After Hillary’s life falls apart, she returns to CC, who angrily responds by yelling “You took your friendship away without discussing it with me!” I can relate – I’ve had friendship decisions made for me without so much as a discussion, with them deliberately trying to hurt me on purpose because I had supposedly hurt them by accident. The younger me found this very difficult to deal with and I always desperately tried to make things better – apologising for things I hadn’t done, accepting being treated badly as ‘penance’ for a situation I had apparently caused… I should have simply had ‘doormat’ tattoed on my forehead.
As I’ve aged, however, I generally take things a little more in my stride. I may not be perfect – I’ve yet to meet anyone who is – but I know that I’m a good person. The people that I choose to have in my life mean a lot to me and I will go above and beyond for them whenever they need it, having done so on endless occasions. If somebody decides that my presence is a negative one and they need to move on, then so be it. Inevitably, I know I live a good life and I am thankful to be surrounded by people that are there when I need them and when I don’t. These are the people that matter.
I hope that my friend makes a decision that she’s happy with, whether she stays or leaves, and above all, I hope that she is able to move on from her current situation.
After all, there are always far better things ahead that the ones we leave behind.
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