I had a friend whom I deeply let into my heart and life. We didn’t get along at first, but we were thrust together because of life’s circumstances and we grew to care for each other. I got a lot of flak for it and found myself defending my involvement with this person many times over the years.
As it turns out, my true friends were right – it was a toxic relationship. But just like a bad marriage or an abusive relationship, it doesn’t make it any easier to leave, to walk away from someone you care about. How do we pick ourselves back up, brush off, and move on?
This friend of mine was my husband’s first wife. A unique friendship to be sure and one that I felt was hard-won. Moms and stepmoms are pre-programmed by society to hate one another. Everything about this relationships that you see in movies, read in novels, or research says “You two will not be friends so don’t even try.” Maybe that’s why I tried even harder. I like a challenge.
I had a serious savior complex and thought I could fix everything. It’s taken me a long time to let go of that, probably just short of six years. Let’s be honest – maybe longer. I wish I could say there were some magic formula for everyone to be able to get past this stuff, but there isn’t.
I know now to trust my instincts. Back then I forgave a lot and pushed through a lot. And even though this woman had a lot to do with all of this, I pursued a friendship later. At first it was because of just desperately wanting to understand her and her mentality (which was extremely different from mine), but after a while I genuinely enjoyed things about her. She was always fun to be around. It was one of the things that had annoyed me at first, how childish she was around the kids, but it turned out to be a good thing in a friend. We went out dancing together a lot and always had a great time. She was a surprisingly good listener. I could look back in a cynical manner and figure she was just listening to get dirt on me to use later, but I feel a lot of the talks we had were genuine and so I will let them remain that way in my memory and heart.
When I say that letting go of this friendship was hard, I really do mean it. This woman was a huge part of my life, both good and bad, for many years. Now we haven’t spoken in a year. She is no longer a part of my life, not really, and I’m sure I’m far from any of her thoughts most days. What are the simple steps of letting go and getting to that point?
I wish I could give you a basics list but I can’t. Letting go of the pain that friendship brought me took a while. It started with knowing that it wasn’t healthy and it just lead on from there. I had enough self-respect to know that going back wasn’t an option. Trying to fix things wasn’t an option. I knew my son and I were better off without this person around us. And as most parents would, in the end I will always choose my son. I didn’t want to be dragged down to this woman’s level and have my son watch me fall. I wanted to show him how to stand up for himself.
If you’re involved with a toxic person in your life, I hope you will have the courage and the love for yourself to break free. I promise you it will be a change you need and will allow you to see things more clearly.
Even now I can still look back without regret, knowing I was true to myself and my personality. I don’t think I can ask for much more.