I definitely have some hoarding tendencies. I’m a scrapbooking-keep it cause you’ve had it-at least let me take a picture of it before we throw it away type. I’m not good with letting go and the hardest thing for me to let go of is relationships. Something happens as we become adults that make our time and energy far more valuable than it once was. Gone are the days of partying all night, crashing on futons, or leaving town on a whim cause you heard there’s a sick kegger at a College campus your friend goes too. You might still be pulling all-nighters, but instead of doing keg stands or movie marathons, you now find yourself steaming up the bathroom at 3 a.m. because your little one has a cold and can’t breathe.
When I became a Mom, I saw my life slowly begin to change and realized that yes, even I was growing up. I had planned to stay hip and keep up with many of my shenanigans, despite my new bundle of joy, but low and behold the inescapable grips of adulthood grabbed me full force and shoved me into its current. I soon saw that I was building a family, and that I no longer had the energy for other things. I watched as passions, hobbies and pastimes fell short in comparison to my new love for building a family. I gladly gave up old habits, some harder than others, (Dear Cigarettes, I miss you every day, and some day when they make you cheap and healthy we will stroll along the beach together and be reunited in true love) and welcomed new experiences into my life.
I embraced my new world accepting its limitations, all except one. I refused to let go of any of my former friends. My hoarding tendencies shined brightly as I ensured strong bonds with each of my friends. I really never stopped to wonder what we were gaining from our friendships or to consider the enormous amount of energy in keeping up with the demands. It didn’t matter because friendship is important to me and it was not something I was willing to sacrifice.
Nothing instantaneous happened, no light bulb went on, there was no moment of clarity – but slowly, as I invested myself in my family, I became more aware that my time and energy was very important to me. I saw that a lot of energy was spent trying not to offend someone or carrying out an obligation to someone who had made demands on my time that were not theirs to make. During this time, my Dad posted a status on Facebook that really resonated with me so he framed it, and it still hangs on my wall. It reads:
Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect. But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please–this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself¬ to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly¬ snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time–and squawk for more! So learn to say No–and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you. (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.) -The Notebooks of Lazzarus Long.
Parasite and termites are pretty ugly words to describe any of my friendships, and I have nothing but love for all of my friends – past, present and future – but it is very easy to allow a friendship to become like a parasite instead of being the pleasurable experience that it should be. Obviously, there are times when our friends are struggling, and during those times it is important that we encourage and support our friends in a healthy manner. You may even find that some friends are struggling regularly, and there is nothing wrong with being there for them if you can do so in a productive way. However, this is not always the case. Show me a friend who is requiring more than you can give, making demands you can’t fill, is regularly disappointed in your maintenance of the friendship, and constantly making you feel overwhelmed, and I will show you an enemy of your family.
There was a time where the choice was mine, but it seems those days are over. I no longer feel that I have the right to take my time and energy away from my children to dispense on someone I am neither helping nor enjoying. Relationships fall into patterns, and even wonderful people can fall into bad habits. If you are in a bad habit or an unhealthy relationship that is taking away your most precious commodities from people who actually appreciate you, let me give you the permission to let it go. This does not mean that you need to call a friend and let them know it’s not working out. You just simply stop meeting the imaginary demands placed before you. You may be surprised that your friendship can flourish despite your failure to jump through hoops, or you may have to say “goodbye old friend.” It can be hard to let a friendship go. It is a regular challenge of mine to allow what doesn’t grow me, or what I can’t nurture, to go and find someone who can. I have found that as I’ve let some people go, some amazing new people have come into my life. Some friendships are meant for a time. Do yourself a favor and let them go when the time is over. It doesn’t mean that they were bad or toxic or meaningless…just that they are finished.
“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” ― Steve Maraboli