Have you ever had one of those relationships where you felt it had evolved...or perhaps devolved...into a one-sided (at best) or unhealthy (at worst) connection?
Part 1: The Dysfunctional Friendship
Boss Lady and I were comparing notes today on a couple of long-term friendships that seem to have gone sour. Initially she characterterized her friendship as one of a lot of ups and downs, but as we talked, it seemed her relationship was filled more with disappointments than fun. Her friend is crippled with Agoraphobia. BL's issue with her friend is not in lack of belief in the debilitating effects of this condition, but rather in the fact that in refusing to continually seek options for treatment, and by allowing her family to adjust all of their lives to her, BL feels that her friend has often acted selfishly.
That may seem hard-hearted, but when I dug further, I saw how many times BL has been hurt and disappointed by her friend. Her friend has missed numerous events in BL's life - including graduations, weddings, milestone birthdays, family funerals...essentially all those moment in our lives we mark in the company of our best friend. BL will be turning 50 soon and is planning on celebrating with some dear friends - taking in some Broadway shows, having some nice meals, maybe a night or two in a NYC hotel. She is torn between inviting her friend and trying once more to include her in a milestone event, or just leaving her friend out of it completely. BL says that one more major disappointment might end the friendship.
Regardless of whether you think BL is being unsympathetic to her friend's plight...can you relate to her complaints? Haven't we all had those relationships where you feel you are the only person giving? Where you are disappointed at every turn? Where only some sense of nostalgia, or perhaps obligation, keeps you involved?
When is it time to cut the ties? Can you convince yourself that YOU are not necessarily the selfish insensitive one to surgically remove a cancerous friendship?
In short, when is enough... well... enough?
I've done it... and while I've missed the things that never happened and think of one friend (in particular) often... I know it was the right thing to do.
When you know that the simple THOUGHT of inviting her immediately casts a pall over that event, why would you bother to do it? Glutton for punishment?
My advice to your friend... don't extend the invitation. You already know the answer. Deal with the fallout as it occurs.
When decades of attempts to make it work have failed - you're long overdue for stopping the madness.
I know a little about this situation - so to extend yet another invitation would be just a courtesy. Her friend will not come. She has an illness that her family has not helped her to overcome, in fact they've enabled her to the point of dysfunction. Personally, I'd remember the good times and keep her in my heart, but BL can't change her, so to continue to hope and be let down would just be too hurtful for me.
I'll paraphrase the best advice anyone ever gave me.
Sometimes you just have to recognize that someone is not being a friend and as much as you want to give them the benefit of the doubt you just have to cut them loose.
Yes, I can totally relate to the dilemma.
I can relate, too. I have some friendships that have taken a different direction very recently. I think at some point, you have to weigh the value of your continued efforts against the detriment of continued hurts.
For me, disentangling myself from those friendships is less painful than continuing to be disappointed. I hope BL can find resolution.
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