I reserve the right to end relationships which no longer work for me regardless of how it impacts the other person. It took me 4 decades to able to do that. I’m beyond proud of myself for it and support others in doing the same thing!
I lived in a family where love and belonging were 100% conditional upon being “good” and towing the line, no matter the cost to the individual. As a very young child I watched my mom disown my sister because her mental illness was too hard for Mom to handle. My dad was gone because the marriage was bad. I wasn’t allowed contact with any of his family because she didn’t like them. She didn’t have relationships with her brother or sister for whatever reason. I lived without any extended family at all. Mom distanced herself from my siblings when they hurting her feelings and the grandkids, too. Needless to say, I learned very early on that being loved and having the support of the ONLY family I had was totally conditional on staying in her good graces. As I got older, the threats of losing my mom’s love and support were vocalized in a million different ways, both literally and figuratively.
Insecurity and a lack of self-worth were common threads in my life for decades. When I found someone who loved me I held on for dear life no matter how bad it hurt me afraid I’d never be loved by anyone else again. Friends and lovers alike. I can’t tell you how many friendships I’ve held onto for the crumbs of feeling connected and begging to be wanted. Tragic, indeed!!!
It was in my mid-thirties that I started to grow internally and feel worthy of love and more than an option or back up plan for people. It was slow, but it was happening! I grew a back bone and started distancing myself from my mom, in particular. If I had to see her, I’d take a support person to keep me on target of not allowing her to hurt me and leave when it was clear boundaries weren’t going to be respected. Go Jodie!!!! I can tell you, this wasn’t a popular notion for her… at all. Setting boundaries with her helped me grow and develop self-esteem regardless of what she said or did. I was able to let it sink in that there were people who genuinely loved me and enjoyed my company.
For years I chose to live inside this box of expectations set by others which didn’t resonate with me at all. Breaking out of that box was anything but graceful!!! LOL I wasn’t a terribly rebellious teenager. I saved it for my late 30’s and early 40’s. Like it or not, here I am!!!
Being myself in all my sparkling glory was far easier than allowing myself to trust that if I let go of relationships I wouldn’t be alone and friendless forever. When my mom died I began the process of being 100%, unabashedly myself no matter the consequences. I let go of family that hurt without an ounce of guilt or regret. I started making friends with people who were previously outside my comfort zone. I changed how I dress. I stopped begging for time from people who clearly didn’t make me a priority. I found comfort in being with myself.
I’ve gone through a couple times now where I’ve let go of all my friendships because they just weren’t working for me. I’m not about to tell you it’s easy and isn’t lonely at times. Sure it is!! It’s fucking hard!!! Finding friends that really resonate with who I am is far more important than just having people around.
After decades of trying to be what other people want me to be in order to be liked, I will not do it anymore. My bullshit-o-mater is broken!!! lol Making friends isn’t always easy. I’ve had a few failed attempts where I’ve gotten to know someone more than a casual hello and slammed on the breaks when the red lights, bells and whistles were going off all over the place. “Danger, Will Robinson!” was echoing in my head.
Part of my journey has been learning not to take care of other people. My role in my family and then my career was to be the empathetic caretaker. I chose a career where I was literally talking people off the ledge from suicide on a daily basis. I have far more compassion than your average bear. I won’t take care of another’s feelings any longer. That’s up to you. I find there is a solid line between having issues we’re working on, typical bad days and being unstable. Requiring constant kindness and support from everyone around you tells me you’re unstable. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and spent years in therapy learning how not to be that person.
In the last few years I’ve been criticized for ending relationships and labeled with a number of choice things due to my actions. It takes far more strength and self-esteem to let go and be alone than hang onto relationships which aren’t meeting your needs. Closing doors on unhealthy relationships of all sorts have allowed room for the good ones!!!