Letting Go of
Emotional Baggage

 

Therapy. Zoloft. Meditation. Yoga. Pfft! For me, none of that works. When thereís something bugging me, itís going to weigh heavily on my mind until it festers into a big ball of gut rot, forcing me to pay attention. Now it may take awhile, in this case, a whole year, but what can I say? I tend to procrastinate when it comes to things of which I donít want to deal.  

I think my family motto has become ďIf you pretend thereís not a problem, there isnít a problem.Ē Unfortunately for me, I canít pretend. I can push aside; try to let go; play the hand Iím dealt, etc. etc. etc. But pretend thereís no problem? Nope. Eventually itís going to consume most of my emotional energy; my thoughts and my general mood until I just canít take it anymore and I have to deal with it.  

Iíve come to that point with something in my life. Something Iíve treasured; worked hard to cultivate, nurture and grow; something I once considered precious and special but lately have thought to be more of a hindrance.   

Because Iím a writer, I read. A lot. Anything I can get my hands on. Advertisements, magazines, books, brochures, you name it, I read it. Mostly stuff that interests me because frankly, the rest of it just seems like work and Iím done with working for a few years. I admit I read a lot of magazines because theyíre quick, theyíre informative and theyíre entertaining. It seems that each of the magazines I read has a common theme for a woman who happens to be a stay at home mother Ė make life as simple as possible. That, Iíve read, is one of the key elements to being happy. And I want to be happy.  

I rid my life of clutter daily. Garbage; junk; paper, anything thatís cluttering is banished from my house into the great pit of garbage somewhere in the metro Atlanta area. But the emotional clutter is harder to get rid of, though Iíve learned a few tricks of the trade; things that have made it easier to let go rather than hold on, for reasons not worth going into in this column. Unfortunately thereís been one relationship I havenít been willing to let go of.  Sure, Iíve toyed with the idea; thought about how it would affect my life, my family, me. But Iíve always found a reason to stay connected to this person, knowing it wasnít the right choice for me, but feeling letting go wasnít a good option.  

I moved to Atlanta in 1997, knowing nobody but my brother and his then-wife who wasnít the kind of person I would be friends with even if there was no one else on earth. I was a loner at that point; 30 years old, not a big drinker, focused on work and exercise. I didnít really make a lot of friends, though I had a few at the health club I went out with every now and then. When I met my husband and became a mother to his two daughters, my free time was even more limited thus my friends were inevitably pushed aside. Thankfully I met a neighbor with whom I bonded well. We had a lot in common, yet there were many differences to keep our friendship interesting. Our husbands became friends and we grew to depend on each other as close friends/neighbors usually do. I was grateful to have met a woman I could spend time with who understood I had other obligations in my life that took precedence over her. And she felt the same way.  

I had been somewhat burned in a recent friendship and hesitated to use the words ďbest friendĒ in any situation, yet this person and I became so close the words just flowed out of my mouth. It was an emotional risk for me because I was scared of getting burned again. Iíve often been told I put too much into my relationships and that itís almost impossible to reciprocate. I hated the fear of feeling that way again and those words brought out those emotional demons.  

I was extremely thankful when the emotions were returned and I again felt secure and confident about a solid friendship. You know the kind, the one that will be there through thick and thin, good times and bad? Thatís what I had and I was glad. Yes, I have a wonderful husband but nothing, nothing can replace the friendship between two women. Itís absolutely priceless.  

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse a year or so ago. Apparently Iíd done something wrong but instead of telling me, my friend let it fester inside of her for three months. In that time she ignored me (which was tough because we live next door to each other); she wasnít overly polite to my family and when she did talk to us, she was short and curt. Obviously I knew something was wrong and yes, I probably should have asked but I couldnít think of what Iíd done so I felt it wasnít my issue. When she was ready to talk, she would. That tactic didnít work for me. I didnít realize that while she was working through her inner demons my security in and commitment to our friendship was faltering. Finally, after a silly argument, things were discussed. Rather, she told me what Iíd done wrong and though I didnít agree with her and felt she was overacting and being too emotional, because I wanted the friendship to survive, I sucked it up and apologized. Too late though. The damage was done. On my end at least. I tried, but I couldnít get back to what we had for the life of me. I wanted to but it was gone.  

Finally, I started seeking out more friends. Itís not that I need a whole bunch of friends, but I like to have a few. Thankfully I met a few really great women at my health club and weíve become good friends. I still spent time with my ďbest friendĒ, trying still to make things work, make them like they were before. I didnít want to give up. I didnít want it to end. But I didnít want to continue to feel Ďnot rightí about it either.  

Things were getting better a few months ago. We were starting to spend more time together again and I felt good about that. She is a wonderful person but God love her, she lives her life on an inner emotional roller coaster and at times that ride is all but impossible for me to take. From day to day I never know if what Iím doing or saying is offending her, upsetting her or hitting her the wrong way. I feel as though I constantly walk on egg shells around her and even though I consciously know that isnít what a friendship is made of, I kept trudging along, hoping to make it work.  

As I mentioned in a recent column, I had some plastic surgery done. This was something she and I had talked about for some time. I brought it up to her and little did I know, sheíd already decided to move forward with it and have the surgery done. Sheíd already had her consultation. I was elated for her! I knew this was something she really wanted to do. I decided to go for it too. Unfortunately in the time it took for me to book my appointment and go to it, circumstances beyond her control stopped her from having the surgery. I however, decided to go through with mine. After all, itís my body, my choice and frankly itís got nothing to do with anyone but me.  

I knew I had to tell her because she is my neighbor and itís not like she wouldnít SEE that my breasts were bigger. I felt screwed either way. I tell her, it could upset her. I donít tell her, it could upset her. Being a genuinely honest person, I told her. Of course, being an emotionally based person, she got upset.  

The breast implant surgery changed our friendship (again). She has been visibly uncomfortable around me and flat out told me she thought I was being selfish considering what she had gone through in her decision to not have the surgery herself. Now, as before, in an effort to save the friendship, I didnít tell her what I thought but instead apologized for upsetting her and made an effort to get the friendship back on track. Yet inside my conscious was screaming ďWhat the hell are you doing? Why are you apologizing for doing something for yourself that has absolutely nothing to do with her?Ē I thought maybe I was being selfish and asked virtually everyone I knew if I was and each person thought she was being overly emotional.  

Iíve finally come to the conclusion that I cannot base my efforts/daily activities toward a friendship on the up and down emotional roller coaster of a most often depressed person. It is just too much work for me. Itís too hard to be her friend. Itís damaging to my self esteem and itís again, too hard to walk on eggshells every day. We had a Ďsituationí this week and I finally lost it. Instead of giving in and letting her control the situation, I  became an utter child and simply said ďYouíre such a bitch!Ē Personally, I think it threw her for a loop because Iíd never done anything like that. But I just couldnít take it anymore. Itís time to let go of the relationship, itís not working. Will it be uncomfortable? Sure. Weíre neighbors, my son adores her and her family and our husbands are friends. But what else can I do? Do I talk to her about it? Tell her what I think? I would, if I thought it would make any difference but I think she is so self involved that what I would say would only anger her and it would again somehow become my fault. And I just donít need that kind of problem anymore. So I think Iím going to try again to take on the family motto ďIf you pretend thereís not a problem, there isnít a problem.Ē And act as though we were never friends. I just donít know how else to handle it without bringing in so much emotional crap that is just simply over for me.  

Thanks for letting me get this off of my chest. I feel much better.


 

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