All relationships are challenging.
When kids are very little it seems that having and making friends just go with the flow. As you get older things get a bit more complicated. I had a friend once who I will call Sara. We met in Jaycees, a club that young married people are involved in. This friendship started out wonderfully with working on club projects together, having family gatherings, getting together to attend meetings, and eventually, we often went out to eat and saw movies. She was a lot of fun and we got along famously. After a year things started to turn sour. She started having sad and troubled moods, became depressed, and this soon escalated. She became very jealous of any other friendships that my husband and/or I would have. If I went to another friend’s house I was chastised and lectured for hours on end. She would say negative things about my other friends and couldn’t understand why I would want to spend time with other people. Therefore, I could not go to another friend’s house unless I went in a direction where I would not be spotted by her. Once she overdosed on pills when she was told that I needed to spend time with my sister who was visiting from California. This became my real fear that she would cause harm to herself if I couldn’t help her.
Being unaware of how to handle things, this relationship continued for about five years. I was very concerned that in her present state of mind she would harm herself as she had already attempted. When I wasn’t working this friend would either expect me to be at her house, or be on the telephone with her. I might add this also affected my family in a very negative way. My kids could never get a hold of me, dinner would be put on the back burner so to speak, as well as going to family functions, cooking, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and the atmosphere in our home became very troubled.
Unfortunately, I did not have a clue how to handle this situation and the problem continued to grow. I tried not to hurt her feelings, and cause her further distress, but it became impossible. I tried to live my life as normal as possible, but I was always making this friend unhappy. The final straw came when she found out I was taking tennis lessons with my mom and neighbors. I was afraid to mention this activity to my friend as she had rheumatoid arthritis that would make it impossible for her to join us. We were in the basement of my in-law’s house celebrating my birthday. Every present that I opened was something that represented tennis. As I opened each present her face got darker and darker and darker. She was sitting next to me and called me a bitch and proceeded to accuse me of deceiving her. Also, my mom stated in front of her that she was trying to reach me and called another friend to see if I was there. This was taken badly as it was wondered why she wouldn’t have been called about my whereabouts instead!! She and her husband proceeded to leave in a huff as she made it apparent that she was upset with me by leaving my birthday party. I know she expected me to contact her the next day, and expect me to apologize and set things straight. I could have gone to her and talk her out of her upset, as I had done many times in the past, but I realized my health was in jeopardy and I just couldn’t handle this relationship anymore.
There is so much more to this story, but many years of sad events are hard to put down in a short writing.
I wish I had had the confidence and know how to not let this relationship get to the point of being toxic, but it did and today I feel I hope I would have the knowledge to handle it a lot differently.