Do you ever find yourself questioning why you are friends with a certain person?
I mean SERIOUSLY wondering why you haven't already ended this relationship?
Reminds me of this one plant in my garden. It does not add any beauty and it does not fit in with the other plants, all of which work together harmoniously to create an environment filled with beauty, love, and peace. Every time I look at this plant I think about how it's time to remove it from the group. Just pull it up by the roots and replant it someplace out of sight, or remove it from the yard completely.
I'm feeling a bit wilted right now after finally uprooting a friend from my life.
We met when we were members of the same women's social group. Early on when she and I began forming a friendship, people would tell me she was a horrible person and ask me why I was friends with her. When people invited me to events, they would tell me not to bring her with me. But I perceived her as being a good friend to me, and I believed she was misunderstood, so I defended her to others all the time. I asked them to be more patient, and sometimes I asked them to just ignore her words or actions.
After she and I became good friends with two other ladies, the four of us began having monthly brunch get togethers. We each had our own personalities, but figured that was what made us click so well. I live an hour away from everyone and often don't mind driving to meet my friends instead of pulling them away from their area. That is why I was completely shocked when she was upset after we suggested meeting in my area on the next brunch to make it easier for me. She let loose a bucket of aphids!
Our brunches were a wonderful break in our hectic lives and we all looked forward to those days. Typically selecting a place to eat was not a big task because we all love brunch, buffets, decadent desserts and champagne, so most of us were happy if at least 75% of those things were available. However, my friend insisted on a place with crab legs. So for several brunches in a row we selected only places serving crab legs at brunch so she would be happy with the experience.
When it was my turn to select the place, I only provided options where they offered crab legs, even though there were other locations that I preferred. I wanted to make her happy, and the rest of us just enjoyed the experience of being together wherever we went. When it was my turn to choose again, however, I chose a Latin restaurant we had never visited for brunch. Three of us were very excited about it, but her delusional majesty said she did not want to go because she had already been there for lunch that week and did not want to go twice. I asked her if she would consider it just to make the rest of us happy, but she refused. At this point the rest of us were done dealing with it. We cancelled brunch for the month and did not speak of it again.
Despite the argument over brunch we planned a girls' weekend in Santa Barbara. On several occasions the three of us have sat in stores for hours without complaining waiting on my friend while she shopped. However, the FINAL straw for me was during shopping in Santa Barbara. We had to wait an hour for my friend to hear back from her mom to get approval on a purse my friend wanted to buy for her. When I confronted her about the irony and said "So, we can wait an hour for you to hear back from your mom, but you couldn't eat where we wanted to eat to make us happy?" her only response was "So what, didn't want to eat there". At that point I knew I was completely done. Her selfishness had become too much to bare and I dropped her from my life when we returned from our trip.
In the beginning, I never mentioned my friend's behavior to her because I felt as if maybe I was being a bit sensitive. I wanted to really take a step back to see if what I was seeing and feeling was real. I have a sense of loyalty to people I call my friends, and I understood where she was coming from because I was also an only child who had to grow out of a self-centered attitude. But the reality is that it's not okay to use the "I'm an only child" defense after adolescence, and the "all about me" attitude that she embraces should have been abandoned long before she reached her mid 30's. I wanted to give her a chance, and I thought that after several conversations she would see how detrimental her behavior was and change. But even after getting kicked out of the women's social group because of her behavior, she refused to do anything differently. Positive relationships require a certain level of balanced reciprocity, and in the relationship with my friend there really wasn't any.
The other ladies and I continue to have brunch, but without her, my now former friend. The change in our dynamic tells me that I made the right decision, but even when separating from someone is the healthy thing to do, it is still uncomfortable when a friendship ends. The stories and experiences you share form a bond, and when that bond is broken there is a loss.
So, on the day I finally ended our friendship, I felt the need for something comforting. Stew seemed like the best choice because a stew is often a combination of ingredients, some familiar that you've loved since childhood, and some you never before knew would work well together. I see friendships like that sometimes...a big pot of different personalities that you hope work well together, but sometimes need adjustments.
The fact that I still refer to my former friend as "her delusional majesty" tells me I haven't healed from the experience yet. I feel betrayed because I gave her so many opportunities to change her colors, but she wasn't ready. Or maybe she didn't want to change. And I'm a little frustrated with myself for tolerating her behavior as much as I did. But I am ready to open up about my struggle as I try to come to terms with it and heal from it.
When I returned from Costco to remove her from my account (I forgot to mention that), I stood in the kitchen and carefully looked through the cabinets and refrigerator to see what ingredients would make a good stew. I intended to select the ingredients that would make me feel better or comforted, but I ended up pulling a little of this, a lot of that, and a bit of "it's time to use this up". I took a chance on the ingredients and hoped for a good mix. Isn't that what we do when we form a new friendship? We take a chance on that person by letting them into our lives. I think about that now when I opt for combining ingredients that I hope produce something delicious.
WHAT'S THE D–I–S–H?
D - DEFINE your DILEMMA
Fighting my own feelings of insecurity and unacceptance from my past prevented me from recognizing unhealthy behaviors in another person. I was trying so hard to not appear as if I was ending this friendship for my own selfish reasons that I allowed a weed to grow and flourish in my friendship garden. Like all weeds, this person was self-centered and weakened the group. She needed to be pulled up by the roots sooner than it actually happened.
I - IDENTIFY your INSPIRATION
I took a hard look at what I was allowing her to do to the group. No, this was not just my group, but I felt the need to protect the other ladies and to protect our friendship. I knew that if I continued to let this weed flourish, she would get bigger and bigger and eventually her behavior would dominate the group and kill all the joy we shared. I knew I wanted the other ladies in the garden because of their beauty, strength, faith, integrity, kindness and warmth. They inspired me to want to create a better environment.
S - SHARE your STORY
Admittedly, I feel frustrated because I allowed her to fade the beautiful colors of the group for so long. Honestly, when she showed me who she truly was I should have let her go. She is an adult and will only change if she wants to change. I'm embarrassed that I allowed this woman's negativity to infiltrate our group. Although I'm glad I finally plucked her from the garden, I do hope that one day she sees the error in her ways so that she can have the type of lasting friendships that I have in my life.
H - HEAL your HEART
I think we all know that healing is a process... I do not miss this girl one bit. It was as simple as unfriending her from my Facebook page and life went on. After the first night with my wonderful stew, I felt better. Did the stew help me to heal? Did the time of quiet reflection alone in the kitchen help me to heal? Did taking a step back seeing and looking at the beauty of my friendship garden help me to heal? All of it definitely helped me feel better, and strengthened my efforts to learn from this experience. But I'm still healing. When I can discuss this situation without getting angry, I will know that the process of healing is complete. I'll keep you posted on how that goes...
In the meantime, ENJOY THE STEW!