Losing Friendships Part Four:

I think that choice has a massive impact on the whole concept of people dumping us when we change paths. I had a friend recently who had the opportunity to move overseas for a season. It was her first posting ever and she was beside herself with excitement. She didn’t tell too many people through the process because it was a long shot when she applied for the job, but she told me right at the beginning only because she knew that I could perhaps give her some tips and add to her decision making as she applied for this scary and exciting step overseas. We journeyed through the application and interview steps and as she got further and it became more of a possibility, her excitement grew as did my excitement for her. Having taken up a number of overseas postings over the years I would encourage anyone to take such an opportunity if they had it, and that is what I did with her.

We never really talked a whole lot about how to manage it should she get the posting, because it felt like a long shot, but as everything fell into place she decided to let her friends and family know that she would likely be moving soon. I am so glad that I thought of it in time and that I warned her that they would not be nearly as excited as either her or I were. She was confused. “Why not?” she asked.

Because they will be losing you and they won’t truly get that this is something exciting for you. A different path is not always something that most people see as exciting. Many are afraid and like to stick to their “safe” path. There is nothing wrong with that, or for choosing to be stable and stick to what we know and grow a good life there. But unknowingly (I think), some people can see others choices as a criticism of their own life choices when we choose to change paths, and they can become defensive. Others are offended that we would choose another path rather than stay on any path as long as you are with them and so they feel not only deserted but that you are choosing to desert them. In many people’s frameworks, we all have choices, that the choice we personally make is the best one, and that other choices are hurtful and threatening.

True as Bob, she did not get a great reaction from most of the people she told. And for all the above reasons. I am so proud to say that it didn’t stop her going, but she has lost a couple of friends in the process and shifted the relationships with all but of a few of all her friends and family.

But what about when we are hit by a bus or knocked off our path? We don’t choose that… so where does choice come into this analogy?

We don’t choose what happens to us but we choose how we deal with it. Most people assume that the only “right” choice is to get back onto that original path no matter what. They think that if we try harder we can get there.

  • They think that if we take their crazy ideas of some potion or therapy then we will be healed and can return to “normal”. I am sure that they don’t mean it. But when we choose not to take their ill advised “advice”, we can be viewed as choosing not to heal. Thereby choosing to stay on the path and not return to the old one. We are then blamed for being on our new path by choice.
  • Any new path, even if there is no apparent choice in the matter, is usually headed in completely new directions. If someone becomes wheelchair bound their friends and family are shattered and want us to live a fulfilling life as much as possible but can feel that our focus should still be on the old path when in fact it can be better for us to follow the new one. How many times do we hear of people becoming disabled, but in their new path as they strengthen other body parts they find a new skill that they never knew they had. New worlds open up in disabled sport, artistic arenas, they often find their voice in the written word. When we choose to spend what little energy we have on our new life instead of going to the pub like we used to, hanging out in the places we used to, having the same career that we used to, these are choices that we make that are good for us but can be viewed by our old friends and family as desertion.

img_4736We all have to make choices in life and some of them are forced upon us. Some are bad choices for everyone, many of them are all we can do to survive a new path that we find ourselves on. Rarely do any choices work out well for everyone involved, and the reality is that once we change paths even through no fault of our own, a lot of people are affected by it in ways that they are unable to articulate and so they blame us for doing something to contribute to our situation.

When we make choices to divert our resources to something other than that one friend or family member, then they get hurt. Whether that choice is to take a new job, live somewhere else, or to spend what few energy resources we have on healing rather than drinking down at the pub, or have to limit our outings or even visitor hours, then people who are otherwise wonderful human beings, feel deserted and let down. Sadly this is the reality of change.

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