Tag Archive | relationships

Dumping Your Friends

Our friends and important people/relationships come into our lives for many reasons and at many stages in our lives. Sometimes we may have been in strollers beside one another, taken family vacations together, met in college, or met in our adult life. Friends come in various forms – acquaintances, casual relationships, close friends and intimate friends. I hold my trusted relationships near and dear to my heart, and take all friendships seriously. I am a firm believer that everyone comes into your life for a reason and that we have something we can learn from every relationship and interaction.

However, not every friend that you will make in your life is meant to stay – this is a harsh, true and sad reality. Sometimes our friends in our lives are cannot stay, and it hurts.

Sometimes enforcing your boundaries means telling the person to stop, and not letting them continue behavior that is not healthy for you. But sometimes enforcing boundaries means that you need to simply walk away from the relationship entirely.

People talk a lot about breaking up with our girlfriends or boyfriends, our husbands and wives… but frequently we don’t realize we can break up with our friends too. And, unfortunately, sometimes it’s necessary, and can be incredibly difficult.

Ending a relationship is hard, but in many ways, ending a friendship can be harder. You may feel as though this means you’ve “failed” somehow, and you may have a hard time of letting go of a relationship that’s lasted for months or even years. You may also worry that this is going to mean that you’re going to have to give up your entire social circle or end up having no friends at all. These are all valid and reasonable fears. Letting go of a long-term relationship, platonic or otherwise, is scary, but sometimes necessary. I have had to make these decisions, and can say it has been the best decision I have made for myself. Your self-esteem, your mental and emotional health is far more valuable than putting up with someone who tries to undermine you, or just isn’t healthy for you.

I’ve learned many lessons with friends (or when ending friendships) in my life and a few are listed below:

Lesson #1: Don’t let your loyalty become slavery – Never compromise your self-respect

I am far from perfect, but I do take pride in being honest and loyal to my friends. I’m the friend that is often mistaken as a family member who will pick you up from the bar at 2am and give you anything to help you feel better if you’re sick. My love for you is unconditional, and I will always be there for you when you need it. In relationships, sometimes there are “givers” and “takers.” What works the best is when you are both givers, and give equally. However, when someone fails to reciprocate the type of friendship you’ve given to them, it may be time to call it quits. Don’t let your loyalty become slavery. Don’t allow your commitment to being a good friend shackle and harm your spirit. Never compromise on self-respect, and know when enough is enough. If you are friends with a “taker” (meaning a person who never gives back), it can get exhausting, and you don’t have to continue to “give” if that is the case. If your friend always expects from you, but never gives or fulfills anything for you, it might not be the best relationship.

Lesson #2: Characterize people by their actions, not their words

By far one my biggest pet peeves is saying one thing and doing another. This can come in many forms. This can be in the form of making plans and breaking them, or saying you are one type of person but acting a different way. Learn to characterize people by their actions, not their words.

If you have that one friend who is constantly promising and never delivering, it’s time to accept that this pattern doesn’t change, but continues… unless you do something about it. Talking to them about it, or bringing it to their attention could be helpful, and if they are a true friend they will hear it.

If you have a friend who might have a different value system than you, there could be a clash of beliefs and ways of life. If your friend makes you feel bad about yourself or is always negative – it’s okay to distance yourself from them if it’s not a healthy place to be. Your friend’s actions will tell you who they are and how true they are to you. Their actions will also tell you if your value systems line up together, or if there is a disconnect.

Lesson #3: You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions

This one is more difficult to accept. Not everyone is able to apologize and admit when they’re wrong. You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions. A sincere person can wear the shoes of others, admit when they’re wrong, and will go out of their way to make things right again. Someone who refuses to do this out of pride (or anything else) is not someone you can learn and grow from. Being able to admit when you’re wrong, even in the toughest of circumstances, makes you a good person. If you are faced with (and upset by) people who can’t apologize for their actions, or don’t see issues in what they do, it’s probably not going to change until they make that change within their self. You will not change them, and holding on and getting hurt will do nothing but put you through more pain.

Lesson #4: You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships

Walking away from a friendship that no longer benefits you in a healthy way isn’t wrong; it means you’re a stronger person for doing so. Being able to accept that this person is not inherently bad, just not healthy for you and your life, is what makes you noble. You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships. You have to respect yourself enough to leave behind people and situations that no longer serve you in a positive way. As much as you care about the friendship, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else, especially when you know they wouldn’t do the same for you. I have learned that not everyone feels the same way about people and relationships that I do, and that is okay. I would rather have 2-3 close relationships than many toxic ones that I’m holding onto.

When I spend my time during the day, I want my time to be positive and I want it to be appreciated. If I give my time to others, I want to know that it would be reciprocated if I ever needed something back. I have been in situations where I realized that the “giving back” is not going to be reciprocated, and it’s not something fun to realize in a moment of need. But, this is how we learn in life.

Since I’ve recovered, I’ve learned the importance of finding health and maintaining a healthy balance everywhere in my life. One of those things to balance is relationships with others. So, whether it is a best friend, coworker, casual friend or acquaintance who is doing the “taking” and not necessarily “giving” back, it’s okay to reevaluate relationship boundaries and begin to place healthy ones for yourself.

So, if you choose to end or distance a friendship, know that you are making a choice for what is healthy for you and the relationships you want in life. Your friend may think you are selfish and unforgiving, but that is for them to feel/deal with, and you don’t owe you any explanation for finally taking care of yourself the way you deserve.

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Dating in Recovery: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Healthy relationships are very important as you recover. This is a really good article with a few questions to think about. As I journeyed through recovery, I found that these were some questions I pondered in therapy (even though I’m married) because I had to make sure I was fostering a healthy relationship with my husband. I didn’t want us to be enmeshed, and I wanted us to have a healthy relationship. A couple is a coming together of two healthy and independent people to form a pair, where one is not dependent on the other, but instead they are partners. This article is totally worthy of a read if you are in recovery and entering the dating world, or will at some point.

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Dating in Recovery: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Dating-in-recoverySo you’ve begun to get the cravings under control and are starting to rebuild your life. You’re changing habits, changing your thinking and feeling hopeful about the future. As you begin to find more enjoyment throughout your days, you might also be thinking it would be nice to have someone to share all these beautiful things with. But before you jump head first into dating, or a relationship, you need to ask yourself if you’re really ready for dating in recovery. While finding that special someone to share your life with has many benefits, it’s also a big responsibility. Below are four questions to help you decide whether it’s time to write dating into this chapter of your life.

  1. Have you given yourself enough time to develop your ideal version of you?

Often during active addiction, we can lose our sense of self. We’re attached to drugs, alcohol and/or behaviors which take a lot of our time, attention and resources. It’s not uncommon to quit an addiction and find yourself wondering just who you are without it. Many people find early (and even later) recovery to be a time of self-reflection and renewal. You’re rekindling old interests and finding new ones. You’re re-prioritizing your values and core beliefs about yourself and the world. You’re taking up new activities, hobbies and friends. Your life is changing in many ways, and it’s important not only to enjoy this process of change, but allow time for it to truly develop and take hold. If you shift your focus to another person too soon, you risk the possibility of shortchanging yourself on a solid foundation and developing a relationship with the person who matters most: yourself.

  1. How well do you know and trust your instincts?

Addiction and its underlying causes have a way of anesthetizing our gut reactions to people, places and things. Learning to trust your instinct can be a lifelong process, but it is of particular concern in earlier recovery. Learning to pay attention to internal alarms, as well as how to deal with them and make good decisions which will protect our best interests is key to a healthy foundation. If our internal measuring system for which we determine what is good and healthy for us isn’t fully developed, we can get into trouble. Relationships are vulnerable to this, and without a sense of who is good for us and who isn’t, it’s easy to get into something with someone who will only bring us down.

  1. Is your personal strength independent of others?

Sometimes being in a relationship can make us feel strong. We feel as though we can conquer anything – as long as we have the other person. This thinking might be romantic, but it is impractical at best. Sure, we want to be with someone who has our back (so to speak), but we need to know that we have our own. It’s important to be able to stand on our own two feet whether we are in a relationship or not. What if the person you’re with begins to threaten your recovery? Maybe they have addiction issues of their own? Maybe they hurt you or don’t support your recovery. Are you strong enough to decide when the relationship is no longer worth the threat to your overall happiness and well-being? Are you strong enough to leave? Even if the relationship is absolutely wonderful, are you strong enough to endure a break up if things don’t work out? If you feel like any of this might jeopardize your recovery, you might want to hold off until you’re feeling a little more confident in your strength and independence.

  1. Are you using a relationship to escape?

It’s not uncommon to find someone who is using dating or a relationship to take them away from reality. Are you feeling bored? Tired of focusing on your recovery? Feeling lonely? If you answer yes to these questions or others like them, you might want to look a little more deeply at your motives for seeking out another person. Love can be a powerful distraction and infatuation perhaps an even stronger one. So many chemical changes take place when we are interested in someone, love and infatuation act very much like the substances we were once dependent upon. It is critical that you be honest with yourself as to why you are wanting to date or get involved with another person. If it’s for any reason other than to share this super amazing life you’ve been building for yourself, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your motives.

The link to the page on the internet, from the site practicalrecovery.com, can be found here.

When Relationships Change

Change is a constant. There is no getting around it. How successful we are in this world is largely based on how well we deal with change. It doesn’t matter how hard we try not to change, it’s bound to happen. Every interaction we have, even the smallest, affects us. Sometimes we may not think things change us, but even on the slightest level, we are changed.

Relationships are one of the most important categories in our lives. Relationships are how we connect and communicate with the world around us. To think they aren’t important or needed is absurd. Some may argue that they don’t need relationships, or they prefer being alone, but on some level, they do need some type of communication – it’s human nature.

What happens when relationships change? What happens when, all of a sudden, something is different and has not changed for the better?

As I walk through recovery, I have found that relationships change as time goes on. As I figure out who I really am as a person, others begin to find that out as well. In my own experience, I have found that some of my relationships have endured some strain.

When we enter into a relationship, we begin to set some unspoken rules. These rules are formed by our behavior, interactions, or just by chance. These “rules” and “norms” that are established and practiced can be difficult to change. When one person begins to change the “norms” (purposefully or because they are growing), strain can happen. These changes may not be huge, or even need to be discussed, but when the change happens, the other person may not be ready for it, or even like it. As a person grows, and the norms change, one person could be left with who that person used to be.

I am changing and growing; recovery has given that to me. I can stand firm and say that it has been for the positive (for me at least). I have grown to have my own voice, advocate for myself and I have learned healthy boundaries. I am no longer the over-the-top-people-pleaser that I once was. I am now a person who considers my own needs, and sets boundaries to protect myself – while maintaining a healthy balance of helping and doing for others.

Things have changed for me. Relationships have changed. I am no longer the one who will drop everything and do for others. I pull my own weight, but I also expect others to do the same. At work, I used to do everything for others, and now I don’t have the time. I used to stay quiet and not ask others to do their part, but now I request that they do their own work. I am no longer the “working horse” from whom others benefit.

Now that I have a voice and I advocate for myself, my relationships at work have endured some strain. Speaking my mind has not been well-received. Asking others to pull their weight on projects or work has also not been well-received. Becoming my own confident person has not been well-received.

I have changed the game. I have changed the norms of interactions and relationships. I have turned into a person who will not be walked-on, and who request being respected. Because I have changed the game, my relationships with my co-workers have changed, and some have even failed. It’s something that I can’t deny and that I have to accept.

So, how does one deal with relationships that are changing? In a perfect world, they would only change for the better. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. So, what happens when a relationship changes and one is hurt?

After much searching and discussion with people, I have found some steps do dealing with a hurtful relationship.

1. Accept It Happened

If something has happened between you and someone you care about or cared about in the past, don’t continue trying to act as if it didn’t. Accept that it did. Allow yourself to grieve over it if you need to. I know I have felt the need to grieve over hurtful relationships in my life. This is one of the best ways to make peace with a hurtful relationship and we all have had them happen to us.

 

2. Do Your Part

If you can look back at your hurtful relationship and see that you were in the wrong, then do your part and apologize for the wrongs you committed. Usually, there are two sides to every relationship fallout and a lot of times, we are at least partially responsible. Apologizing may not fix things and in fact, probably won’t if the relationship has grown so hurtful between you and the other person. But it will ease your conscience and allow you to know that you have done the right thing, even if the other person doesn’t do their part. You can walk away much easier this way.

 

3. Don’t Go Deep

Sometimes, the person whom we have had a hurtful relationship with is not someone whom we can cut out of our lives. It may be that it was a family member, coworker or other relationship that you can’t just cut off. If this is the case, you need to know how to deal with them after the relationship has grown hurtful. My experience has taught me it is best to not go deep with these individuals. Choose to keep conversation light and on easygoing topics

 

4. Use Distance to Your Advantage

Use distance to your advantage. Sometimes, you can use distance to cut this relationship completely out of your life, like with someone that used to be your friend. There are no ties in that situation. But other times, when you have to continue contact, you have to use distance differently. You can still be distant but only to an extent and that is okay. Figure out what extent that is and use it to help you deal. Time also becomes a great distance. Sometimes, we need to just be away and let it be. Once feelings are calm, the healing can begin to happen.

 

5. Extend Grace

You know, we are all hurting people in this world. We have been hurt and we will hurt others, at times. Realize that the person you have a hurtful relationship with is doing the best that they can. They may be acting out of scars that you know nothing about. If you can develop a sense of compassion for them, it can really benefit you. Pray for them and do your best to forgive them. Walking around with anger or baggage only hurts us.

 

6. Use Wisdom

Sometimes we have a hurtful relationship with someone and they want to continue having it just so they can continue hurting us. This is not wise. You need to know when to say when. Be wise about your decisions concerning a person you have a hurtful relationship with. Remember it is your job to take care of yourself; no one else knows what you need better than you do. If you are not willing to go to your own defense, who will?

 

7. Find Other Relationships

When you have dealt with a very hurtful relationship it can be tempting to shut down. But this is not always healthy. Find other relationships in your life that are nurturing, caring and uplifting for you. This does not mean that you don’t still care for the one you have a hurtful relationship with. What it means is that you are making the healthiest decisions that you can for yourself, and you are trying to foster healthy connections with other people.

 

 

Making peace with a hurtful relationship in your life is difficult, no matter who it is, but it is also necessary to do so. The more we advocate for ourselves, the stronger and healthier our formed relationships will become.