Thursday, September 30, 2004

Toxic Friendships

This past spring I had to let go of somebody that had grown very important to me....I had to let go of my best friend for the past 8 years.  It had become what they call a "toxic" relationship.

We had met years earlier when we both stood up to a mutual friends wedding, but we didn't become best friends till this mutual friend introduced us again in 1996.  She was going through a rough time in her life and she was questioning everything about herself, much like I did a couple of years earlier. Its rather therapeutic to meet and talk to someone who has already experienced what your feeling, it is like a light suddenly goes on and you say, "Ah ha! Finally somebody understands exactly what I'm going through!"

We found out we had much in common and bonded almost instantly. We had moments of real laughter, the kind you have when you were younger, that deep belly kind of laugh, were you swear your going to laugh so hard you'll split your side or wet your pants!  It was good to have that kind of laughter in my life again, its the kind of laughter only your siblings or friends from your youth can bring on.  We would be on the phone 5 or 6 hours a day, (hey we're women we multi task!). I had been so involved with my Husband and raising our children, I stopped having a life outside of them, so it was good to have someone to go shopping with, dine out with, have a few glasses of wine with. I was enjoying having a best friend again.

Even though there were similarities with both of us, all the way down to our appearances, we looked like sisters and many times we were closer than our real sisters, but the difference was I had gone through therapy and "cleaned house" so to speak.  I had stopped doing things that harmed my soul and broke free of harmful traps. I have a maddening need to fix situations, when somebody needs solutions they called me, when someone needs ideas they called me, I was the "Strong" one out of the bunch, I am the "FIXER."

In being my best friends' best friend, I tried to help her find herself or save herself, she was in a bad relationship, she had a horrible relationship with her parents, she was always in some kind of crisis, all it took was a phone call from her and I would abandon my own family and needs to run off to save her. I learned the hard way, some people don't want to be saved.  Those are the kind of people who cry and complain about how bad they have it, but do nothing to change their situation, they don't come up with solutions only excuses. They only want quick fixes and nothing gets fixed quick or without a lot of work. Those are the people that don't want to do the work, they wait for others to do it for them, the "Fixers." And when they stop getting what they want, need or have to have from you, they look for the next person to say,"You poor, poor you!'

I had seen how she lied, cheated and stole things, which is something that I don't usually subject myself too, but she made me laugh. It got to the point where the needy side of her was too much for me, I had given all that I could give and took nothing in return, "taking" is not my nature. I had to soul search on this one and I did....I knew I had to cut her loose and I did.  Do I miss her friendship, yes of course I do, but do I miss all the drama in her life and the drama she created in my life.......no, not at all, and that is how I know I did the right thing. I can't save everybody all the time and I can't take away from my family to help and save another's.

This is the part where I learned to say no, I learned not everybody wants to be saved, some people like to play the victim. This is were I learned to walk away from someone who constantly took more then they gave. My family benefited from me severing this friendship, I no longer took off at the drop of a hat when she needed me, I became my husbands best friend again, I let him become my confidant again, the one I told my every thought too, like I used to do before my best friend. I still keep in touch with this person from time to time and she is still stuck in this viscous cycle but she has to learn how to stop it herself this time, she has to want to first.

15 comments:

disq54 said...

I can relate lil, its hard sometimes. I'm in a situation similar to that as well, I need to let it go, but maybe one day I can. I want too, but I don't want too, if that makes sense.

http://journals.aol.com/disq54/DreamsvsWakingLife/
http://journals.aol.com/disq54/ItsMyLife/

sistercdr said...

There are times in a friendship when you have to draw back.  I'm a bit of a fixer and a major sympathetic ear myself, and drawing boundaries with people you care for, especially those who bring laughter to the plate, can be very difficult.

bernmilo said...

excellent entry...i also have become someone who has a very hard time saying NO, but your entry sure showed alot of courage and strength...thanks for sharing!

blueyesofawolf said...

I understand exactly what you went through.  Sounds just like me and my friend.  I finally had to tell her we couldn't be friends no longer.

kimbellina1957 said...

I AM ALSO THE FIXER. IT AMAZES ME HOW MUCH I DO FOR OTHERS OR HAVE DONE AND ONLY TO TURN AROUND WITH THEM STILL STUCK IN THE SAME RUT. I HAVE (OR SHALL I SAY, HAD) A BEST FRIEND HERE THAT DID THIS TO ME AND TODAY SHE STILL CALLS ME AND SAYS SHE WANTS US TO GET BACK TO WHERE WE USED TO BE, BUT I JUST CANT AFFORD IT. I CANT AFFORD IT EMOTIONALLY OR OTHERWISE. SO I GUESS I AM GOING TO TRY AND BE POLITE AND NICE, BUT NOT GET TOO INVOLVED IF ITS AT ALL POSSIBLE. AND YES, THIS IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW AS I WRITE THIS COMMENT. THANKS FOR THIS ENTRY. I LEARNED FROM YOU WHAT IS BEST TO DO IN MY SITUATION. :)
KIM.

wlv1026 said...

That sounds like a couple of friends I use to have.  Whenever they needed help, they knew where to come.  But when I needed them, they were never there.  I miss them at times, but life is better without them in so many ways that I don't want them back.  Sad isn't it?.......Tammy

sdoscher458 said...

I, too, am a fixer...people tell me their problems easily and I've learned that I have to distance myself a bit...just for my own sanity. When I really like someone I feel a great deal of empathy for them, which isn't all bad..but you have to save something for yourself - your hubby - your kids....Sandi..http://journals.aol.com/sdoscher458/IJustHadToLaugh

heathyrxmarie said...

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debt489 said...

I am currently trying to find a way of breaking off a toxic friendship, that is causing alot of dysfunctional behaviour in my own life, and I'm having a real difficult time making this break. After reading your post, I can see that I'm not the only one that has been like this, and I'm going to now follow through with what I have to do.  This friend, I've known her since 1985, through a job search program.  She was alot of fun, and we had some very fun times together, but 20 years later I am now in a serious relationship with a child and I find that she really resents the direction/life I've chosen for myself. She calls me incessantly, sometimes up to 7 times in a 20 minute period, leaving some really nasty relationships.  Alot of them seem to be the same, all the time, emphasizing just "how much I've done for you and  you've done nothing for me" which helps me understand the role of the "fixer".  That is me to a T.  I've broken up our relationship, several times already, the last ten years and for some reason I always got lured back into it again.  Thinking that "she's had her time out", I'd give her another chance, meanwhile she just gets worse and worse becoming more and more unreasonably demanding.  She's jealous of the fiance.  She's also jealous of my 3 year old daughter.  She's even jealous of my "down time".  This makes my life crazy, because no matter how many times I talk to this person, it's just never enough.  I could have a good conversation, only an hour later after we've talked forever and ever, she is yelling at me saying that I don't give her enough time on the phone.  If anyone on this site can give me some advice, on how to deal with this situation, I would really appreciate whatever suggestions one can give.  I am thinking seriously now that the only suggestion is to cut my losses now before I lose everything else that's way more important to me.  I can no longer fill her v

lonerart said...

Yes I understand. I had to break off a ten year relationship because of how "needy" she was for constant attention. I was sad but I'm glad the "drama" is out of my life now.

childcarediva said...

Oh, I am having such a hard time making this 'break' with my friend.  I truly love her... but the dance that we do is so unhealthy - and predictable!!!  When I think of the lack of integrity she has at her job and the many awful things she has done to me when I worked for her, I hate her.  When I think of how loving and kind she can be when I'm with her, I miss that.  Make no mistake... we always do what she wants and it's all about accomodating her!  It's kinda like she doesn't ever give very much, so when she does, it's like you are a flower in a drought.  You forget all of the other and just bask in the present.  I know a big part of it is me.  I go back for more.  I think I first got involved with her because I love a challenge.  Whenever I try to make the break, I start to miss her and her sweet and vulnerable side.  Plus, she pulls me back - I think out of control.  To complicate it, I've never been closer to anyone in my life.  That's hard to let go of.  It's not healthy to be mad or hurt every couple of months though.  I wonder if someone could truly be as insensitive as she is... or if that is just a power/control thing.  It hurts.  I need to get past this part.  It's hard!!  I'm vulnerable... and want to be her friend.  Crazy, huh?

childcarediva said...

Doh!  I thought I'd get to make up a little name for my outpouring of emotion... like "Best Friend Blues" or something.  Oh, well.  It is what it is, right?   I'm sure anyone close to us knows our relationship is crazy.  And again - I certainly have to take responsibility for my actions.  No one is twisting my arm to stay in this relationship.  I wish I didn't care so much about her.

psychfun said...

A very long response at the link below...again please remember I was not totally disagreeing!!! :-)

http://journals.aol.com/psychfun/MeThinksTooMuch/entries/467

Psychfun

crzfourkids said...

I think that it is hard to eliminate toxic people from our lives beacuse they have appealing qualities that atttracted us to them in the first place.  In my case, I am afraid to hurt people, but, I know know that my family must come first and that I cant let one toxic person dictate how my life is to be run.  It is very comforting to read articles like this and know that I am not alone in this problem.

cneinhorn said...

email on it's way!