First this was going to be a single blog post, but it kept growing. I then decided that no one wants to read more than 5 posts on a single topic so I would write 5 posts, ….but the topic just keeps going (and growing!) So I will write until I feel that this is covered.
Up until now we have talked about friends who leave us when we change paths in life, whether by choice or not. I truly think that there is nothing that we can do to change that and that if we stick to trying to force the friendship we stop growing ourselves. I don’t think that we do ourselves any good by staying in that sad space. I am not saying that we don’t need to fight, to work at keeping it, to cry or to grieve. We need to do all things and we need to do them fully and well.
But sometimes there are friends that we need to let go of. It is easy to blame everyone else, and it is easy to allow ourselves to be thrown to the wind, to the whims of life and others around us. Changing paths can be extremely disempowering sometimes and we are left at the mercy of so much that we can’t change or “fix”. But it can also be empowering and I believe that to throw all our friends in the air and let the wind blow the chaff away and only the good clean wheat return to us, is healthy in some ways but it leaves us completely at the mercy of the process. I think that even when some people are good solid wheat, healthy and strong and wonderful, …some of them may not actually be good for us.
Here are a few examples:
When friends started to see me in my wheelchair for the first time, many ran away as fast as they could. And I am not just talking metaphorically. Some actually saw me, gaped, and walked away. I have not heard from them again. Others who were too close to run made “funny” comments like perhaps I am doing this for attention (when they don’t even know what is wrong with me). They chuckled and strolled away as if they would be back any minute, …but I never heard from them again. Like chaff they floated off with the wind to greener pastures and I am sure are happy some place else.
While some leant out, others are totally leant in to the situation. They cried, they hugged me, they asked all kinds of honest and healthy questions. They brought me so much joy in their acceptance and in the way that they embraced my new situation. They wanted to be the one sitting with me at dinner and the one who pushes my wheelchair when we go out. I was moved to overcome by these people. It was good for me and my acceptance of my new “normal”. I needed it and they did nothing wrong. Like wheat they were solid and the wind could not blow them an inch, they simply landed in my new space and stayed.
But they weren’t all the same. There are those who still treat me just as they did before. Sure they make allowances but these allowances are subtle and almost instinctive. One friend yesterday chastised me for sitting on my legs on the floor but she was right and the moment I moved to a chair she kept talking to me as though nothing had happened. That is what I need; people who have my back but who also treat me as completely “normal”.
But there are others who aren’t good for me. They clearly love me dearly and they would truly do anything to help me. But I often feel like their toddler or their pet project. They want to be the first to care for me and then once I have settled they are off partying with their actual friends. They are lovingly able to step in and out of their life context and mine, …but I am no longer welcome in their “normal” life.
It feels as if they are doing their charity in spending time with me, but they no longer share their own troubles with me, they no longer treat me as normal. They often go so far as to do things that I don’t need like straighten my hair, pick ear wax out of my ear, or straighten the blanket on my lap. All things that I don’t need them to do but make them feel helpful and worthwhile. Our friendships have been reduced to their tending to me… but nothing more. I feel like their charity case and it leaves me feeling humiliated and no longer welcome as being “normal”.
These friendships are not good for me, they do not uplift me or help me. I feel as though I am in primary school again when I was allowed to hang with the group of girls lowest on the pecking order. But it came with unspoken rules; I could hang around with them and go to their parties etc, but I could not contribute. This is so damaging to the soul of any human being and while these friendships are with people who will never ever desert me, for my own good I need to gently and lovingly walk away from them.