Sunday, July 25, 2010

Letting Go


Do our personal traits and attributes and defects and assets become more intense as we age? Like in cooking when we make one of those reductions of raspberries or lemons or wine?

I was writing on another topic for publication and this thought struck me out of the blue.

I'd heard from an ex-friend on FaceBook. She is not a FaceBook friend, I should add. A friendly e-mail. As if nothing had happened between us. We were close for over twenty years. She came to Ireland and visited me when I would go back there in the summers. She was one of the first visitors here in Newfoundland when I bought this house. But now and again she would erupt at me. Out of the blue. She had a very damaged childhood, horrific. Therapy was unable to help. As it is in such cases I've been told.

And this was at the root cause of her abusive behaviour when she got too close to someone. She would say horrible things. Often in public. We had weathered these storms before. I saw through to the broken child at her core and made allowances. But three years ago, her behaviour worsened towards me. To the extent that if I was having a gathering of any kind she wanted to preview my guest list before she would commit to coming. Control issues. I know.

The breaking point came when I was giving her training, at her request, in the preparation of personal income tax returns (she wanted to set up a sideline business – in competition with me – I'm an idiot - I know!) and out of the blue she accused me of n*****ing my employees. To say I was gobsmacked would be to put it mildly. I asked her why she would say such a thing and she said that I acted always as if I owned the company. Well, duh, I said back, I actually did!

When friendship ends there may be grief and mourning and regret. In her case, for me, there wasn't, When she would return in the past and apologise, I would let it go, tell her how much I valued her. This time, the line she had crossed was taboo. I moved on. I didn't return a few phone calls she made. I was done.

And I thought about this recent contact of hers and as I politely responded to the email, and got a wordier response from her I thought, no. That's it for me. I am not renewing this friendship.

Experience has taught me that her abuse of me can only get worse.

20 comments:

  1. I have an ex boyfriend who was quite needy and possessive. We broke off our friendship about 5 years ago. His mother just died and I've contemplated sending him a card, but decided against it. I was doing it not for him but to feel good about myself. I decided it would be best to let it go and let him have his life and let me have mine.

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  2. A moth to the flame, Marcia, I know. We can get even more burned. It took me a long time to recognise when I was 'done'. And mean it.
    XO
    WWW

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  3. You are fortunate that this is just a friend. You can be done with a friend. I have this problem with a family member I cannot be done with. I know there is mental illness involved, but the ties are too close to be broken. It is a profound sadness.

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  4. 20CW:
    I too have estrangement from a daughter. It is especially painful. But the upside is there is no longer walking on eggshells and out of control tantrums for reasons she only understood.

    I have been told, which helps, that we could never love her in the way she thought she should be loved.

    It must be very hard on you living around this all the time.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. I am impressed with your strength. I do not think I could let go of a friend I had been close to for 20 years if she sued for peace. I thought I had (sadly) crossed that line with a friend of mine but it turns out not to be so, and I am very glad. I don't think I was wrong in thinking she had been very abusive to me, but in the end I decided I valued our history together too much not to forgive the abuse.

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  6. DO:

    And has it worked out well?

    I did this the first time I could take no more. And forgave. But something snapped this time. I feel for her and her pain but am not strong enough to withstand the abuse.

    Unfortunately, though I try not so, it has tainted some of our history which makes me sad.

    XO
    WWW

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  7. It's best to stay out of emotionally abusive relationships. What happened in the past will repeat itself. There has not been an apology, has there? Even if there had, it would be playing with fire. She does not sound like a loyal friend and in the end, that's what you want. That's what friendship is all about.

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  8. Nora:
    When she was kind she was wonderful, truly amazing, but the downsides were always there, for instance if she even got a casual date she would drop the commitment to a female friend.
    Her childhood was horrific so I made a lot of allowances. She was very damaged and I had and have tremendous compassion for that.
    I believe she is still, in her way, still very loyal to me.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. I had a friendship I had to let go in the past too. It's difficult because you feel like you *should* be supportive but you do have to weigh up the cost, not just to yourself but to the other people in your life.

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  10. These situations are really difficult, particularly if you know that there is a reason behind the behaviour. You try to excuse it and explain it away, but sooner or later, you have to be selfish and consider yourself - a friendship has to be two sided, and if you are always the one giving, then it is no longer a friendship.

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  11. I think you made the right decision. As you say, the likelihood is that the abuse would only get worse and she would expect you to be ever more tolerant and self-sacrificing.

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  12. Logic should prevail. Congratulations for keeping the distance. Above all self-respect. Friendships should not be stifling. There should always be a line and not just for friendships - for all relationships. I think that we are more functional and happy when we keep something for ourselves.

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  13. K:
    Yes, I agree. And the eggshell thing comes into it too so that you are unconsciously waiting for a bomb to go off.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Jo:
    She was giving in her own way and extraordinarily wise as damaged people often are.
    It was the uncertainty and unpredictability that was ruinous.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. The answer to your question is a resounding 'yes'.
    We become ourselves more and more as we age, as we lose restraints and self-control. Throughout our lives we have had to accept discipline for various reasons, When we age, we find it easier and easier to ignore it.

    You can stay friends and accept what she hands out and make allowances ( seems to me that we are all responsible for ourselves deep down ) or you can remain distantly polite.

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  16. Nick:
    Yes, I had that feeling, I had tolerated so much that she would push the limits even further. And she still hasn't acknowledged the last triple bashing she gave me, I only cited the one in my post.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. PC:
    As I get older I cherish the friendships that I do have that are 2-way streets: an equal investment by both in the relationship no matter where in the world situated.
    I've cut out the ones that are not of this mould.
    And feel better for it.
    XO
    WWW

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  18. Friko:
    Yes, I see the condensation of self with others around me and spot it in myself also. (i.e. I'm more and more like my father, down to his mannerisms). We can fight it but it surely wins!
    The friendship is too hard on me, the tolerance quotient all used up.
    Distance is best.
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Yes, I think our traits do distill with time, become more intense versions of the original, then more youthful "us".

    Maybe this could be likened to a sketch, faintly decipherable at first, then with continual outlining and pressure it becomes very very clearly defined. Astrologers might say that the constant cycling of the planets over our birth charts reflect this kind of thing.

    Re your ex-friend: I'd say "let it be" and let it go without regret or recrimination. It is what it is - won't change - except to hurt you more each time.

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  20. T:
    Exactly, spot on. We do get more intense as we age.
    I find also (speaking for me, me, me) is that I get funnier because I can laugh at myself more and sometimes surprise myself with little skits I do which seems to amuse the captive crowd.
    Loss of self-consciousness which used to plague me.
    XO
    WWW

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