I was lying in bed this morning after I had woken up, just having a few quiet moments to myself. These quiet moments bring about thoughts, and these thoughts are typically painful memories that I haven’t quite reconciled with my emotions, and I wind up pining over missed opportunities to speak up or regret having played a part in the situation at all.
The particular memory which came to mind this morning was a phone conversation with a friend from college that happened about 5 years ago.
I was looking through my phone, and realized that I hadn’t spoken to this friend since I had graduated college, and I wanted to reach out and see how she was doing. After I had asked her about her life, we spoke about mine; I updated her on the status of my relationship, and she asked if I was still with the boy I had been dating when I graduated, and I told her I wasn’t.
A quick aside: The boy in question was an abusive person who suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which went beautifully with my now former codependency issues, and our relationship was a 2 year long tornado of dysfunction.
This friend then went on to say some rather harsh and insulting things about the way that I had behaved while I was participating in the relationship.
“You were obsessed with him,” she said.
I was speechless…at first.
“What do you mean, I was obsessed with him? I wasn’t obsessed with him.”
“All you did was talk about him and your issues with him, and how you just wanted it to work when you should’ve just walked away.”
No shit… I thought to myself, rolling my eyes.
I went on to tell her that it was an unhealthy relationship (the most unhealthy relationship I had ever had with anybody), and what she perceived as ‘obsession’ was constant fear of the relationship falling apart.
Yes, the relationship should have fallen apart; I wish it would have FAR earlier than it actually had. But what this girl had failed to understand was that my anxiety about the relationship had very little to do with the boy or the relationship, itself: It was about my self-esteem, which was completely wrapped up in the outcome of the relationship. In my mind, if the relationship failed, it meant my failure as a worthy human being.
When you see it this way, it makes it a pretty damn valid situation on which to fixate, but only if you choose not to view it as what it is…which, I did.
Why would I make a choice like that, though?
Did I enjoy the idea of being miserable forever?
Was it fun for me?
No. It was because I just didn’t know.
I didn’t know my behavior was due to codependency.
I didn’t know that my self-esteem was wrapped up in my relationship.
I didn’t know that there was the option of looking at my behavior for what it actually was.
I honestly can’t blame this girl for being critical of my behavior; I can’t blame her for being honest. I’m not angry with her for that.
That being said, though, I am a bit perturbed.
We had grown apart as friends…it happens. She was living in a different state, and had a career and a life, and I understand that. It was painfully obvious as we were speaking that she didn’t feel the need to step tactfully around her words because we had already grown apart and we were living about 5 hours away from each other, so we probably weren’t going to completely rekindle our relationship or run into each other at the gas station. I, again, can’t blame her, because it was an accurate appraisal of the situation. The way she probably saw our interaction was a situation in which she had nothing to lose, so she felt it was fine to openly share what she felt about my behavior in the most direct way (even a bit negatively, in the form of vague insult).
But, where was this direct-speech when I was actually involved in the situation? Why would you tell me when I was recovering from the situation, when you no longer actually care about me?
I could have really used somebody to say:
Fuck being polite! I’m sorry if this hurts you, but you need to know the truth! You’re being a MORON! Can’t you see that you’re hurting yourself? You know he’s an asshole, you say it all of the time! You’re constantly miserable…have you ever even really sat down and asked yourself WHY you’re still with him?
I was upset because she didn’t care to say these things when they were actually relevant…because not once did she say these things to me when I actually needed to hear them.
I can’t say with any authority that her words would’ve changed my life and I would’ve seen the light and broken up with that boy; I have no freaking clue what would’ve happened if she had confronted me about it. I take responsibility for my own actions, so I’m not blaming her for my involvement in the relationship.
But, since she chose to say these things to me in the way she did, and when she did, I remember her as ‘the girl I wish I wouldn’t have called that day’ as opposed to remembering her as ‘the friend who cared enough to open her mouth.’ Her view on the matter became the equivalent of kicking an already broken leg.
The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, you need to risk rocking the boat or even losing someone if you see them being self-destructive. It’s just an unavoidable fact of life, no matter how unpleasant it may be. It may not further your reputation, it may cause conflict, but if you honestly love that person in any capacity, it’s the right thing to do. People may be insulted, they may not listen to you, they may even walk away from you…but at least you cared enough to say it.
You’re completely right. It’s great to have friends who will be honest when they seek you’re making a poor decision, but that’s just it. FRIENDS should say it, no people who used to know you and are speaking about the situation is done. Good for you for getting out of a destructive relationship! You should be proud! 🙂
Thanks so much! It really was a hard thing to do, both being in the relationship and ending it, but sometimes the best things we can do for ourselves are the hardest. 🙂