Fall Cleaning. Among My “Friends.”

I’ve long contemplated this before I actually pulled the trigger. It was obvious that those particular friendships were not a 50/50 deal, far from it. Hubbyloo and other friends were pointing it out every chance they got, but my arsenal of excuses for my friends’ selfish behavior was unbeatable. Until, faced with the (semi)trauma of turning 31 this summer, I decided that some changes were in order in this chaotic life of mine (actually, change started much earlier).

I asked a couple of simple questions: When am I the happiest? and What do I enjoy doing? I watched as my thoughts formed images of happy encounters with people dear to me, a lot of laughter and joy, there were the memories of the long-forgotten pleasure I get from creating art – painting, writing, scrapbooking. I then dug a bit deeper to figure out where I stood and why was it that my life did not line up with my inner desires. It was not long before I realized that I suck at managing my energy; my attention and focus tend to be directed towards people (and activities, but for the purpose of this post we will focus on the human energy-guzzlers) that in no way help replenish my energy reservoir. I would make myself available, I would support and I would give to friends who either were not capable or, worse, intentionally chose not to reciprocate. There was that friend who is stellar in the role of the victim, who crushes to the floor as you ruined her day by not fulfilling her wishes. There was that friend who refuses to try to understand how life changes after a baby, and resorts to the ol’ fashioned silent treatment and sulking. There was that friend whose priorities do not include you, although your history is beyond special and your bond, you thought, was unbreakable, the friend who chooses an extra hour of sleep to spending that time with you since you haven’t seen each other in years.

I decided I was done wasting my energy in all the wrong places. So I drafted my first Dear John letter to be mailed later today. It was with a heavy heart that I signed that note, and I know neither one of these letters will be easy to write. These are people I’ve known for anywhere between five and 15 years; these are people I entrusted with my deepest secrets, who know sh** about me that no one else knows; these are beautiful souls I felt close to, and I loved dearly. At least one of these friends was my “sister” with whom I would spend hours on end picturing ourselves in our old age, still close, hanging out on a couple of rocking chairs reminiscing about our (read my) tumultuous college years. These are friends who got lost on the way. As the study says, every seven years we lose half of our friends. I am still surrounded by the other half though, people who truly care, old friends who did manage to adjust to the changes Copiloo brought about in our relationships, and new friends who require my time and attention if we care to allow our friendships to grow.

Friendships, just like pretty much everything out there, organic or inorganic matter, require nurturing and care, and the effort of all parties involved, in order to grow into and be preserved as something beautiful, meaningful and fulfilling.

Take a step back and assess your relationships; are your friendships feeding your soul, or are they the bane of your life? Adjust accordingly.


40 comments on “Fall Cleaning. Among My “Friends.”

  1. Pingback: Therapist Evaluation Form | It's Been Delicious

  2. This is tough, for sure. I struggle with letting go of friendships that are extremely one sided, but my husband helps gently point it out to me so that I can do so. That’s why he’s my best friend! 😉

  3. It’s scary to think that we’ll lose half of our friends every 7 years. My friendships all mean the world to me. A friendship isn’t quite a friendship if it can be called the bane of your existence.

  4. I’ve ended a few friendships before for very similar reasons and the one that blew me away was someone that told me “ending a friendship wasn’t possible.” That she’d still say hi to me if she saw me on the street, still comment on Facebook photos, etc. I tried to explain it, but she didn’t seem to get it. I unfriended her on FB and saw her once or twice after that, making sure to quickly go the other way before I ran into her after that. Haven’t heard from her since so I guess she got the point, but goodness – some people just don’t seem to understand that friendships are two way streets that people can choose to go down.

  5. I so wish I was brave enough to do this. I have a heavy heart about the various people in my life that I know should be cut completely. Good on you for being that brave and really understanding what you need in your life. Good luck with the friendships you choose to hold closer to you.

    Thrifting Diva

  6. I’ve never had to ‘break up’ with a friend, it has always just sort of happened (lose contact, or the natural ‘we should totally do coffee some time’ and never do). I can only imagine how hard it must be!

  7. Writing e-mails or writing out letters seem to be easier for me than verbally telling someone i’m not happy with them. I’m currently stuck in a dire situation that I don’t even want to write out this letter because I know that one person will hold it against me.

  8. i know this definitely must have been tough. I went through something very similar with one friend last year.. I’ve known her for so long but me and other friends have allowed her to be selfish because we always thought she had it tough growing up.. so she just needed to be nurtured.. little did we know.. we were helping her turn more and more selfish. i wasn’t helping her at all and she was sucking the life out of me that i had to see a therapist just to talk about her problems.

    it was definitely tough breaking off that relationship, but i realized it was necessary. sometimes it’s still weird bc we have mutual friends, but i hope the best for her and hope she will find ways to grow as a human being without me. i’m glad you realized that some relationships aren’t meant to be while there are others around you that are worthwhile to keep around. :)

  9. This is very true. At the age of 22 I’ve only just truly realised this. I moved to a new city all on my own and it’s amazing when friends expect you to be there for them, yet never ask after you. Or want to come stay with you, but only because they want a holiday and they’ll go out for dinner without you…

    Big hugs to you, and good luck. May your new friendships grow and blossom!

    Katie <3

  10. It’s so much better to have quality friends rather than an abundance of people who don’t care! I’m all about friend cleaning.

  11. Life changes and some people have a hard time accepting that. I’ve had friendships end because they were not good for me. It sounds selfish but you must take care of yourself and meet your needs. Good for you having the maturity and kindness to let your friends know how you felt.

  12. I feel like I wrote this, in a way. I just turned 31 this summer and decided to get my priorities on track, one of which was to rid myself of two toxic friendships in the same way you did.

  13. Sometimes you just need to love your friends from afar…after moving 18 hours away from my lifelong friends and family – at first I was devastated…then I was able to really see the impact (positive and negative) they had on my life. My life now, is much more richer and I have more time to devote to my priorities….my family. I also want to ad, that it was very good of you to let them know by letter, instead of leaving them wonder. That way they reflect on their lives. Sometimes people get too caught up in themselves to think about the impact they make on others. Good for you as hard as this was *hugs*

    • That’s what I was thinking, I want them to know what happened, to remind them what they meant to me, and that they should be more aware of the effort needed to maintain fulfilling relationships. I still have to send letter #3. Shortest relationship, but kinda the hardest because I feel she is acting the way she is out of a fear that she is losing me. And now… she is. :(

  14. having to “break up” with friends are the worst thing. but more times than not, its long overdue. sorry you’re having to experience the friend break up and heart ache that comes along with it.

    • Yeah, Iris. I guess it was a courageous thing to do. It was not easy and I was kinda afraid I guess while doing it (hard to say why… might be that I feared that I’d feel the empty spaces left behind them). And you know what’s funny? One of them, self-absorbed as she is, didn’t even realize what the letter was all about. Lol I had to spell it out for her.

  15. You’re a brave, honest and true friend. I’m so glad and grateful to have met you. (Secretly hoping I never receive one of these letters.) And Scrapbooking! :)

    • Awww… Thank you, Marina. I am really grateful to have you as a friend, too. Sending these letters will allow for more time to spend with those who matter, like you, doing stuff that we love. Scrapbooking for instance! Hehe

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