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Choosing Me

I sighed audibly as I put down my phone and thought, “Here we go again.” 

I tried to move on with my day, but I found myself with thoughts circling around in my head, thoughts that are accompanied by some pretty complicated feelings. Sadness, guilt, irritation, panic and anger to name a few.

For a while now, I have been part of a relationship that has slowly become unhealthy for me. It started with some one-off situations and I was compelled to do what friends should do for one another. I rose to the occasion. I supported. I helped. I made excuses. I avoided. Before I realized what was happening, the calls for help were coming rapid fire and it was more than I had the mental and physical capacity to handle. 

Toxic relationships are not black and white. I love this person and I want this person to be happy and healthy. I want to be a good friend. However, I have reached my capacity. I simply can’t anymore. I can’t prioritize her health over my own. I can’t prioritize her children and family over my own. I can’t continually put my right to be healthy and happy behind hers simply because her needs are louder than mine.

It has become very clear to me that just because I understand the WHY behind the way she is, I don’t need to be okay with what it does to my own well being.

So this is where is gets tricky. I realize I can not be the answer for this person. I realize that I can be a friend without being the scaffolding that holds up the house… although I am still figuring out what that looks like exactly. I also know that I am allowed to protect myself, which in this case means distance and boundaries. But, the guilt… oh the guilt.

When I picked up my phone the other day, I immediately spiraled back into this darker place where I have been hiding for a while when it comes to this particular relationship. I felt resentment and then guilt for that resentment because I can’t shake the feeling that it means I am an awful friend and an awful person. I felt hurt because I have lost a friend who once actually knew and cared about my life. I felt tired because this song and dance is one that has been part of my daily life for years now. I then asked myself all of the hard questions I regularly default to in challenging myself in my decision to maintain a protective distance from this relationship.

And in the end, I put my phone away. Which I know is the right decision.

Toxic relationships come in many forms. Addiction, abuse, mental illness, even insecurities and egocentrism can cause toxic relationships. I don’t know why it’s so hard for many of us to feel empowered to prioritize and cherish ourselves in this world, but it is. I don’t have all the answers and the jury is still out on whether or not I will be able to maintain any semblance of a relationship with this person in the future. But, I know this…

It’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to set boundaries.

It’s okay to protect yourself.

And it’s definitely okay to choose you. Your health, your happiness, your family.

One Response to Choosing Me

  1. Suzanne Hines August 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

    Ooooooh, I needed to hear this today! I’m stuck in this awkward song and dance almost daily as a foster Mom. Yes, I am rooting for the biological family, and I have gone far out of my way to build a relationship and be a support person for them to get back on their feet. But some days I have to say no. For everyone’s sake, but mostly for my own and the sake of my children.
    Thanks for the encouragement!