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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Friend-ectomy

I just listened to a BBC radio sitcom, All Those Women, about four generations of women, great grandma, grandma, mother, teenage daughter, living under one roof. The premise of the episode is that the mother is invited to lunch with an old friend who she really doesn't like but accepts the invite to be nice. The other family members urge the mother to do a "friend-ectomy" as the "friendship" isn't really that at all, it is in fact a dysfunctional relationship that serves no positive benefit.

Cut to the chase, the "friend" is not really friend, she simply likes to meet up occasionally and make lots of backhanded compliments about the mother and her family, in fact, seemed to thrive on patronizing the mother in order to make herself feel better. It made me think about friends in my life who have wandered in and out.

Some friendships were great for a time because both myself and the other person were at the same point in life, perhaps having small children at home, so it is nice to meet up at the park with the kids, do play dates etc. but as the children grow up and life gets the busy the friendship sort of loses its point. Others were workplace friendships, but once the "glue" of shared employer and day to day experiences goes there is not much else in common. The same can be said for neighbors, while living in the same neighborhood the friendship flourishes, but when one friend moves away the cause of the friendship, close proximity, is gone.

I can only think of two people in my life that I have "friend-ectomied" one became an extremely heavy drinker and just kept making terrible life decisions and I decided I did not need the drama in my life and there was nothing I could do to change the situation if the person could not see how self-destructive their behavior was. The other was a "user" (not drugs), simply a person who would call if they had no one else left to call, call only when they needed something, would always put phone calls, texts, facebook, etc. first, so you would be visiting, having been invited, and then spend a large amount of time simply sitting while the individual took phone calls, texted etc. Conversations always involved a lot of "name dropping" and only one topic was ever discussed - the individual. I put up with this relationship for years, and I am not sure why. I would be volunteered by this person to do things and be told about it later. Always suggestions would come along phrased in this way, "We should do ...? Well translate the We into me, I would be doing while the individual sat idly by issuing orders and doing nothing themselves. This person would go out of town, and then text to ask that we take care of household and outdoor animals, and never a thank you. Lets face it, I allowed myself to be shamefully used for many years. About six months ago the final straw occurred and I thought what exactly am I getting out of this "friendship" and I realized absolutely nothing except annoyance and frustration, and decided to stop interacting. At first I felt very guilty, but the guilt ebbed over time, I get a very occasional text or call from the person, but I never initiate contact, and I disengage immediately. I have NOT lost anything in my life at all, in fact, I have gained a lot, no more aggravation and annoyance, no more feeling horrible about falling into yet another trap and being used, and no more hurt, it is truly the best thing I did for me and my family :)

If you have a toxic relationship with someone why do you hang on to it?

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