As a child I always had a hankering for a special best friend—the one person I could always count on, who would be there for me through thick and thin, read my mind and want my company above all others.
Coming from an emotionaly tumultuous family, being the youngest girl with seven years between me and my younger brother, I was fighting a losing battle against isolation.
But I was blessed to have many friends with varying degrees of intensity and connection; a few of those friendships from my childhood and adolescence were my life-line during a very difficult time at home.
As an adult, there were pieces of that friendship dream that remained. Maybe it was the desire for a sister that I never had.
Finally, over a period of many years, I had two women friends whom I would class as “best friends.” We had been together through marriages, our first born, divorces, work changes. And I had provided support for each of them during extremely traumatic events in their lives.
The connection with these two women wove itself into a many layered complicated blanket—sometimes comfortable, sometimes itchy, sometimes far too heavy and other times absent when I needed it most.
Throughout the years, just as can happen with any relationship, our personal and spiritual paths and priorities were diverging.
My role in the relationship became more and more of a peacekeeping effort between two women who would both confide in me their frustration with the other—no, the Three Musketeer anaology was not accurate, because a triangle had formed, with me at the peak.
As the years went by I felt more and more uncomfortably pulled in opposing directions by both of them.
Ever blunt and insightful, there were many times after hearing about “a night out with the girls” that my husband would say, “You just need to be honest and confront what is going on.” My response was always the same: “Oh no. They wouldn’t be able to handle it and would just get really angry and probably walk away.”
Ironically, the relationship ended just that way—but I was the person that got angry and walked away.
It happened quickly and relatively cleanly. And thank the powers-that-be, I was even sent a little follow-up reminder, that confirmed to me these relationships were indeed more toxic than I’d even realized.
The years of wading through pathological mistruths and attempting to dance between those lines had me caught in the middle of a web. And the only way out was to listen to unending untrue rationalizations from women that would rather deviate from the truth than step up to a deeper relationship—by looking honestly at ourselves and all of our behavior to process an event in a truthful manner.
When I weighed up how much work and stress they were willing to put me through to attempt to referee and negotiate—yet again—all the while lying about or “denying” the facts at hand, it became apparent: my work here was done.
Yes, there are still times I miss my side-kicks. But when I take it one step further and look at how much I would have to step away from my own truth to attempt to reconnect, it is glaringly obvious that it would not serve my greater good to return to that role.
More than missing these relationships, I feel a sense of liberation from not having to tip-toe between words and experiences so that one doesn’t know the feelings of another—trying to keep us together as a “happy family.”
Unfortunately, I waited it out until the venom turned on me, when I could have heeded signs long before that.
If you find yourself at a difficult crossroads with friends in your life, I truly feel your pain.
Here are three of the bigger questions to ask if you think you and your BFF might be heading in different directions:
Are you willing and able speak your truth and have it be heard in a respectful, or even interested, manner? If not, how is that working for you?
Are there inconsistencies or mistruths that you pick up on, that you are unable or unwilling to confront because you feel the aftermath wouldn’t be worth it?
Is there a great disparity in the relationship regarding effort you put in and your friend’s ability to be there for you in your time of need?
In the addiction field there is a lovely concept called “detachment with love.”
Detachment with love gives us the permission to pull away from an unhealthy situation, not out of spite or anger, but because our presence has become part of the problem—and removing ourselves out of care for the person and their situation is the healthier choice.
Personally, I’ve come to the realization that I was the “enabler” in this friendship. By trying to keep the peace and prevent the “catastrophe” or blow-up from happening, a less than genuine relationship was able to putter along.
And honestly, this isn’t a huge surprise as it mimicked other life relationships where I had unsuccessfully assumed the “peacekeeper” or “enabler” role.
I can honestly “detach with love” and wish these ladies the best and hope that they have enjoyed each other’s company in their redefined relationship.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath, it is clear that I have been disparaged and it has taken work to stand strongly in my own truth and not let the judgement of others affect my own self-worth.
LIfe comes full circle and irony visits again. And I’ve landed in a new physical space where, in the past four years, I’ve effortlessly discovered some deeply respectful friendships with folks on a similar path as my own. And I have also continued a deep and honest soul-mate friendship, that continues to grow, with my very dearest friend of nine years—a true gift for my inner child who always longed for just that relationship.
And if I said there had been no lingering trauma from the “break-up,” I’d be lying.
Even with those newer like-minded connections, I can find myself a bit guarded. But that’s okay. That is my reminder to step into my truth and look around, adjust my boundaries if necessary and know that we are given our life lessons for a reason. And mine have brought me to a relative relationship-nirvana.
Be your own best friend and strive to love yourself the way you want to be loved.
Every. Living. Day.
That is where the journey of true friendship begins.
Author: Becky Aud-Jennison
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: supplied by author