There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on. ~Zahn Malik
Over the years, people come and go throughout our lives. Friendships that once were close drift apart. We move jobs or locations. We move on.
Some of these friendships continue to be important to us. Though we may not be in contact for awhile, the connections never really cease to exist. When we make the occasional call or see one another decades later, it continues as if time never passed. Then we go back to our lives until our paths cross again, often years later, and for awhile…we move on.
We also have people in our lives from which we grow apart. We each change so much that we can no longer remain friends. What we had in common at one stage of life is no longer important, nor does it continue to bind us together. We wish them well, but then…we all decide to move on.
As we mature, we realize there are many friendships, which we can no longer try to maintain…that we SHOULD not maintain, if only to protect our own sanity. We know we must move on.
These may be with people who are extremely negative and try to drag you into their drama. Or they make you their scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong. Perhaps, they are unable to take ownership for their lives. Even when they reach out to you, there is a sense of blaming, control, or “woe-is-me,” and it has not changed in all the years you have known them. The handwriting on the wall. Yet, we struggle with knowing how to move on.
Because we care about these people, and once were close in our friendships, we give them chance-after-chance, time-after-time. At some point, you are slapped upside the head and see that they are stuck in the loop of “same-old-shit-different-day/circumstance.” You know instinctively that you cannot help them. They need the kind of help that you are not equipped to give them. You are not a trained psychotherapist.
When you try to set boundaries, they push back hard and become abusive in their language, blaming you for not understanding. They accuse you of turning your back on a friend in need. Now you know that you must run as fast as you can to move on.
The only way out of this type of unhealthy relationship is to let them know that you no longer wish to be in relationship to them. They are toxic to you, and you realize that it is time for you to take care of yourself. You do it kindly, but directly. And then you block them from email, social media, and do not answer the phone calls. You finally move on.
For a time, you may not hear anything anymore. Life is peaceful. You recognize that your stress level is greatly reduced. You no longer take on their drama. You think they have moved on.
You develop healthy relationships with people who give you life, and affirm the value you hold in relationship to them. Being around these friends energizes you. There is reciprocity in the relational dynamic. You begin to grow and develop well-rounded friendships/relationships with people who who breathe life into you, and do not suck the very breath from you. You are able to move in similar directions, and celebrate life with one another, even through the difficult tests of time.
Then one day, you hear from someone you told years ago to not contact you. He/she reaches out in order to “move on” past what was. The boundaries you set forth a few years earlier are held in complete disregard.
The language becomes confusing, guilt-inducing, and the methods feel creepy:
- “I don’t know why you won’t call me me back.”
- “You misunderstood what I meant.”
- “I don’t think you understand what I was going through.”
- Sometimes, there will be a suggestion that this is a return call, when (in fact) you have chosen not to call, but to ignore the attempted contacts.
- Calls will come several times throughout the week, late at night when you are sleeping, sometimes to your work numbers. The messages are nearly always the same.
All of these seem to be attempts to manipulate the situation in order to get you to respond to with a return phone conversation or email exchange. You have seen this before, and you know what the end result will be. Nothing good will come of this, because their behavior has not changed over the years. You recognize the patterns.
It is not always easy to know how to deal with situations, such as this. Each situation is unique. At some point, you need to be direct and say, “This is enough.”
But when these toxic people start to resurface, what do you do? Do you entertain them? Do you call them back? Do you email them? I think not. But there might come a time when you must discern what to do, dependent on the gravity of the situation.
It may require you to give one last message:
“I HAVE moved on. Do NOT contact me again. Any further contact in any format will be considered harassment/stalking.”
You moved on. They need to move on, too.
Until you let go of ALL the toxic people in your life, you will NEVER be able to grow into your fullest potential. Let them go so you can grow. (LIVELIFEHAPPY.com)