The Ups and Downs of Friendship

| February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

Life is a roller coaster ride. There are ups and there are downs. Your friends are with you hands high in the air as you climb higher and higher and hold your hand tight when you are falling straight down. But what happens when your best friend decides to get off that roller coaster just as you are about to fall?

A long time ago, in the not so distant past, my best friend bailed on me when I was plummeting through divorce. My divorce brought back too many uncomfortable memories of her divorce. Hearing me go through my divorce made her feel like she was reliving her’s again. It hit too close to home for her and she walked away. There were days I spent crying on the kitchen floor, staring at her phone number in my cell willing her to call and holding myself back from sending...just…one…little…text. I eventually had to delete her number from my phone. Letting go of her was the hardest thing I had to do. She was my best friend and confident over the previous 10 years as I struggled to hold my marriage together.

I needed someone who knew the struggles and pain of where I had come from because I “needed” guidance on how to move forward. She had already completed her divorce. I had hoped her experience would help me with mine. Because she knew my history, I thought I could just vent and release without having to go back and explain why “x” situation was so hurtful. I thought that friends would be there through it all. However, after so many years of hearing me talk about the same issues and feeling so hurt that I couldn’t fix things, she had had enough and didn’t want to listen to my troubles anymore. According to her, ten years was too long to listen to someone complain about their situation, that I should piss or get off the pot. I was stunned and felt abandoned. On top of losing the life I had known, I also lost my best friend and support system.

Chin up, Buttercup! I would tell myself in the mirror. But I never felt more alone. I was far away from my family and other friends — thousands of miles away. I was navigating a minefield as I moved through the divorce process and was raising Mina on my own. Not only was I trying to be fair with my wants and needs within the decree, I needed to put those issues aside in order to help Mina and her dad bond. Mina would scream if she was left alone with him and we had to develop a visitation plan that worked within her comfort level. Because visitations were at my house, I never had forewarning what sort of personality my ex would exhibit when he came: Would he be calm? Would he be domineering? Would he be highly emotional? The ground never felt solid enough for me to be able to catch my breath.

Needless to say, I was scared shitless and had no one to talk to who knew me, really knew me. I needed someone who knew how he was, how I had enabled him, and who would notice if I was falling victim to old habits again. I had been so conditioned over 12 years to put his needs and comfort first, that it was hard for me to be vigilant and diligent for my own needs and for Mina’s. It was always easier to give in and let him have what he wanted because then he would stop being angry.

Months went by and the phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it because I didn’t know the number. I’m glad I did because it was her … she finally called. It took awhile to get back on track. Awkward at first as we tip toed around what had happened. There were many quiet moments as we tried to find words to say. Sometimes there were no words and the silence said it all. It said:

  • Me: I’m nervous to open up, so I am just going to talk about the weather until I can trust again.
  • Her: I know… I ‘m sorry and I missed our friendship. Can we start over?

It took awhile to get back on track. I would tentatively begin talking about something that I was having difficulty dealing with, testing the waters to see her response. Eventually, we regained our footing and have been able to have an even deeper friendship as a result of it. It’s been four years since that happened and we are back to being best friends again.

Losing my best friend during such a difficult time was a strong lesson on self-reliance and perseverance. Friends are there to support us, but we also need to support ourselves. If we are constantly running to our friends for advice or confirmation, we are not listening to what that inner voice is trying to tell us. I needed that time to be quiet and think about what I needed to do or what the best way was for me and Mina to proceed. No one could tell me what was best because they were not living my life. I realized something during that time. I had to completely lose everything in order to find myself, my voice, and my way. I needed to remember what made me, ME. What did I value? What did I like to do? How could make space for myself when I “had no time” to myself as a single mom with sole custody?

I valued honesty, integrity, and peace. Beginning there, I declared my house a place of peace by putting up a plaque at the door which read: Peace to all who enter here. It may make some people uncomfortable to see such a proclamation at the door, but maybe those people shouldn’t be in the house if they can’t honor the peaceful environment. Now my house was safe again. A safe place for me to express myself and I began to dance! Mina and I began to dance together all the time. Laughter began to replace anger and hurt, clearing the negativity. Finally, we had a new routine which included mommy-reading time in the mornings. While Mina would play, I would take time for myself and read before breakfast.

Looking back, I can remember how much it hurt, but I can see how much I grew from that time on my own, getting to know myself again. While married, I had abandoned my needs in order to maintain the status quo so that my ex would not get upset. My brain was always 5-10 steps ahead of HIS needs in order to know what he would need before he knew he needed it. If I could anticipate a need, I would fill it so an emotional eruption would not have time to rumble. There was no place for me in that because I needed to maintain control over his emotional stability to create a calm environment for Mina. I had been lost for so long that I couldn’t rely on myself to make a decision without first talking it over with my friend because I had no brain capacity left.

Now, I understand that her leaving the friendship for a while was a gift. I learned how to trust my own judgment again and feel strong in my decisions. My sense of self is solid and I quickly recognize when I am off balance. I have a lot of conversations in my head about my intentions in certain situations. If it is not serving my greater good or honoring my needs, I need to back off before I get sucked in and depleted. She has also recognized that it is much easier to advise people on what they should do, but harder for her to implement that same advice in her own life. After going through recently an emotionally paralyzing relationship, she has a greater awareness for how difficult it had been for me to “piss or get off the pot” so many years ago.

Maintaining a long friendship is hard, especially from a distance. I know it must have been hard for her to walk away that day and even harder to come back. That is the sign of true friendship: to have the strength to do what’s hard, to support each other, and to be ready to give/take a kick in the butt when necessary!

Elif Ekin

Elif Ekin is an Entrepreneur, Life Coach, and Author. She has her M.A. In European History, cooks highly addictive Baklava and Middle Eastern pastries for local cafes and special order, and conducts various healing workshops around Salt Lake City. Her company, Mostly Happy, A Journey into Joy, is a Salt Lake City, Utah based company that provides Life Coaching, For more information on Mostly Happy, please call Elif Ekin at 801-674-7047, follow her on FaceBook or visit her website.

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Tags: best friends, compassion, conflict, , coping with loss, divorce, friendship, inner voice, intuition, letting go, loss, , personal empowerment, personal growth, perspective, , self-reliance, Trust

Category: Psychology

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