Forging Healthy Relationships

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I think the universe has thrown a curveball on me this year, because a friend I have known for more than a decade is moving to the same state as me. There are some relations that survive, when the people involved in it are at arm’s length – well my friendship with this friend is kind of like that.

When asked to describe myself in one word I often say that I am the perfect example of a pushover! I have always tried to pushover confrontations (only offline) and arguments in real life because of this insane fear that I will hurt the other person. Coming to this friend of mine – she likes to take digs and potshots at everyone and when confronted she says that she was joking.

A little history about our friendship – We met as teenagers in college and she left mid-way to pursue a diploma in a professional course and I went to complete my B.A. Having said that though, this friend has always been smarter than me when it comes to studies, but she met her future husband and dumped studies, got married and moved abroad. She married someone she loved and we were all happy for her. However, we lost touch because she was in another country and I was busy with college, job etc….

A few years later I also got married and moved to the same country as her but different state. We connected again and while initially we were able to bond, we realized that we had changed like most people do. The friend always dissed the place I lived in, my way of life, my choices and everything I did under the guise of “constructive criticism”. Looking back I feel I was a little naive but it was also because I have always looked up to her as someone “smarter and more intelligent than me”!

Things really fell off the rails when I visited her once. She criticized everything from my dressing style to my relationship and what was supposed to be a change and a break from mils drama trip turned into a nightmare for me. It wasn’t her alone, her DH also joined hands with her in ostracizing me for some of the choices I made – especially choices related to the way I dressed or presented myself physically.

After I returned home, we continued being friends I was upset but somewhere I did not say anything because I felt they had hosted me for two-weeks and I should not be rude to them. However, she suddenly broke all ties with me and stopped contacting me. In 2009 my husband lost his job because of the recession and we were planning to move back to India but she never called, and if I called she would say that she was busy. But things changed, husband was able to find a better job so we stayed back. We were not in touch since early this year. She called me out of the blue to congratulate – I had just passed out of grad school. We weren’t in touch, except for occasional facebook messages. But now she had called. I answered the phone hesitatingly and realized that nothing had changed. She was still vindictive. During our conversation she talked about how awful she felt because she couldn’t continue her studies and when she saw that friends had achieved so much academically she often felt low.

I felt bad for her and told her that she was doing well, her business was doing good and she was following her passion. I also told her that “academics does not determine a person’s worth. There are people who have a lot of degrees but they are not really smart!” And pat came her reply “just like you!” I did not know what to answer, but realized that she had not changed. She later started laughing and says “Oh I was just kidding…. You know me!”

A few days later she texts saying that she is planning to move to the state where i live. She has now moved, 30 miles away from my home. And wants to catch up. But I think it is time for me to stand up for myself.

Forging Healthy Relationships

Stay away from friends that say mean things and are deliberately hurtful. Sometimes they push their insecurities on you.

I have fought with myself of whether or not I need to be friends with this person again. All these years I stuck to it, because I don’t like to break ties but I think sometimes it is important to break away from people for your own sanity.

I wonder why I have such a tough time standing up to rude friends and acquaintances and over the years I have realized it is because of a severe lack of self-confidence and self-worth. Growing up in an extreme tough love environment has made me humble but it has taken a shot at my self-confidence and self-worth I often feel like I am that child that doesn’t want to upset people because she is worried she will end up being without friends. And while I might have grown up as an adult, that little girl still exists somewhere….

But I think it is time for me to grow up and break free of habits that are toxic for my own mental and emotional health. I think if I don’t do it now, I will never be able to do it…. Maybe little steps towards it…. It is difficult to cut out some people from your life, however, it is important that one is kind to oneself first and if that means cutting the weeds out of one’s life.

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