Loss of Friendships in Hard Times

“Friendships cause heartbreaks too” – Wolftyla

For many years I considered myself a social butterfly, I had many friends and got on well with most people. As I grew up my friendship circle became smaller and was made up of good quality people. There was no room for drama or chaos – I was blissfully ignorant. It came as a huge shock to me when I realized that a lot of the people I chose to “do life” with were in reality not the quality of people I thought they were – my circle was mostly made of people who were manipulative and users. I discovered how to create healthy boundaries that protected myself, and fostered healthy relationships. It amazed me that once those boundaries were established most of my “friends” suddenly had huge issues. It was a horrible time for me, and I struggled to uncover my faults and my failures. I realized that sometimes friendships are not meant to last forever, I believe it was Oprah who said Friends are like Pants – some are stylish and great for a season or two, others are your favorite worn in jeans that, if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. Once my perception of what friendship was, and how it was actually possible to have healthy friend relationships I made some very good and deep connections. I considered these women my “jeans” friends.

When we embark on a journey of change, we often overlook the inevitable loosing of relationships. As we grow and discover ourselves, we can shift out of friendships, that is expected. But it is the times of painful change that often come with unexpected losses. When I made the choice to leave my spouse, I didn’t consider the many relationships that would be caught in the middle. My sweet sister-in-law, whom I had loved immediately upon meeting (and considered one of my closest friends) was no longer comfortable speaking to me. My father-in-law, brothers in law, nieces and nephews were now all off limits. It was devastating to me, but I did accept it. After all, they were my ex-spouses’ family and loyalties were to be expected. Having half my family removed from my life was a burden, but I was able to deal with it through the support of my friends.

Until I lost some of those friends. Many of my toxic friendships ended abruptly – once I informed them of the separation/pending divorce I never heard back. Texts went unanswered, voicemails not returned. I spent many nights awake wondering what I had done, how to get my friends “back”. I devalued myself and tried to figure out the big flaw I carried. And then, ironically, I was on the giving end of the “ghosting”.

One friend in particular had just gone through the same things with her marriage a year prior to my separation – her and I were able to remain close for just shy of a year. I shared my heart openly and with a rawness that left me feeling vulnerable (but safe within the friendship). I thought she was doing the same. She was in a new relationship, and I was as well when things started to go sideways. There were red-flags happening in her relationship that I felt compelled to inquire about, where my relationship was going strong. She did a good job of explaining the red flags away, and yet I quickly became her sole confident for the issues in the relationship. She ceased asking me about my life, my struggles, my feelings. I stopped feeling comfortable to express my joy and my happiness in my relationship. It became on sided and I felt as though the entire friendship was about her issues with her partner. It began to affect my relationship with my partner in negative ways – and I was emotionally drained which had an impact on my ability to enjoy quality time with my daughter as well. I ended up backing out of the friendship after much back and forth. This was a woman who I considered a sister, but my mental health was taking a nose dive. I tried to verbalize my concerns and was not heard (or heard but not taken seriously). It all came to a head and I had to walk away. My heart was broken, my life felt disjointed – but just about a year later I can say with confidence and assurance that making the decision to actively allow for my own well being was worth it all.

I am sure that she questioned herself and the merits of our friendship, just as I had done. I am sure I am the villain in her story. But the funny thing is, I am healthy and happy. I have discovered a balance in the relationships I have today – a beautiful and delicate give and take. And yes, the heartache was hard and I am sad for the loss of the friendship. There are times I catch myself thinking “I’ve got to share this with her!”. But the gain that comes from making healthy decisions cannot be overlooked. And in reflection, perhaps some of my friends who disappeared when I separated were making the decision to walk away for their mental well-being. I hope they are doing okay, and I hope they can somehow know that I am too – and it is all okay.

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