I met with a friend of mine (sweetNsmiley) a few weeks ago, for coffee. First I have to quickly plug this awesome local coffee shop, The Metro. It has wonderful drinks and goodies to eat, as well as a super cool and casual atmosphere. The back end of the shop has several sets of gently loved living room furniture arranged in small groupings. It’s the perfect spot to go with small kids because they can spread out and play while you sit and enjoy some much needed adult time! OK plug over…After a few minutes our conversation about our children and husbands took a heavier turn. It turns out that sweetNsmiley was struggling and needed some advice. She had a friend whose personal choices were making it very hard for her to want to continue with their friendship. Not only was she struggling with her “friend’s” choices on a moral level, she was also quickly learning that her “friend” was starting to say things about her that were unkind, and simply not true! Top that off with a full scoop of her time being taken advantage of and you get the picture. While we would all like to think that this kind of crap ended with High School graduation, we all know it isn’t true. As I’m sure you can tell by her blog alias sweetNsmiley is absolutely one of the kindest women I know. And I could see her struggling so I shared my own “break up” story with her.
It started a few years ago when The Cowboy and I reconnected with an old college friend of ours and his wife. We soon began to invite them over for BBQ’s and, because they were new in town, I encouraged the wife to come to several friendly mom play dates. I knew something was a little off with her, but The Cowboy said I was just being judgey, and to back off and be nice, so I ignored my instincts. Flash forward a year and I was stuck in a ”friendship” that was sucking the life out of me and turning me bitter and whiny. She was the type of person who complained constantly, fought loudly and often with her husband in front of others, routinely took advantage of me “not having a real job” (yes she said that) for babysitting, often showing up hours late and never returning the favor. My friends started asking if she was going to attend an event, and honestly telling me that if she was coming, they weren’t. When she started to cause friction between The Cowboy and me, I knew it was time to end our “friendship”. I felt guilty, like I was being the mean girl at school, but after I looked at it from the perspective of a mother I knew I was making the right call. What would I tell Cowgirl G if she came to me with this problem? I would say that you don’t have to be friends with someone that hurts you, no matter what the reason. But, you do have to continue to be respectful to them; they are still a fellow human being.
I called her with the intention of “breaking up” with her. She didn’t answer her phone so I left a brief message and said that I needed a break from our friendship and that I wasn’t comfortable with the way I felt and acted when I was around her (see all the I statements, that’s important). She responded by tearfully calling me back and throwing everything she could at me about how she couldn’t survive without me…I stuck to my guns and said this was something I needed to do for me. Things were rough for a while; she called constantly, sent me letters that went from begging and pleading to nasty, as well as texting and calling The Cowboy. I stood firm, and simply kept quiet, even when she began to say rude things to friends of mine. Eventually my lack of reaction spoke louder than any words I could have said, and she finally stopped.
I have to be honest, even with all the “stalking” behavior from her, I was absolutely relieved and light-hearted after I finally took the step of putting me first. A few words of advice…
- Plan what you are going to say first, and practice it with a few trusted people in your life.
- Break up with them in a quiet and private place when you are feeling rested and in control of your emotions (no alcohol or other people watching). I think a phone call or leaving a message is perfectly acceptable, texting your message is not.
- Use I statements, don’t make a list of everything they have done wrong.
- When you’ve said your piece walk away and let it all go.
- No matter what they say or do, don’t get drawn back in. Stay firm in your decision and keep your mouth shut.
- Your true friends will continue to be there, no matter what this person says about you or does.
Love yourself more, break up with her! SweetNsmiley gave herself permission to love herself more, and ended her toxic relationship by setting firm boundaries and sticking to them. I’ll share with you what she said to me afterwards “With every end, and with every goodbye, we learn more.”
Even Dr. Phil will tell you that it’s not being selfish to remove toxic people from your life…