It has always been my policy to walk away from difficult relationships without making a scene, and see what happens. It’s a win-win strategic move. If the person doesn’t notice your exit, or doesn’t seem to mind, you know the time to move on has arrived, and feel no guilt or doubt for your exit. The silent goodbye.
It’s not very satisfying, and there is zero emotional closure, but it’s less soul crushing than the growing awareness that your friendships aren’t very authentic, or dependable. Some of mine were co-dependant and some had addiction issues. There were problems with boundaries, integrity and conflicts in basic core values. There were a lot of red flags, in hindsight. I chose people who were distracted and disconnected, and would were mostly unavailable in times of need.
I have spent lots of time and energy on other people over my lifetime, but few of those bonds survive today. No bridesmaids or friends from either of my weddings remain in my life. I provided all the ingredients for a clean-cut when I shut down my life and planned my move across the country. The friends I’d accumulated over a lifetime slunk away as my mental health declined. Once I was across the country, I’m sure I was easy to forget. No one could save me, and no one knew how to help me save myself.
I have cultivated a new life, and keep the privacy of it fiercely. I now pour all of my energy into my family and my home. I have developed deeper and deeper appreciation for my husband, who continues to step up to the line when times are difficult. He doesn’t know any more than anyone else about mental health, but he loves me, and he’s brave, and he keeps showing up in a life most everyone abandoned a long while ago. He has seen me in my most unflattering light, and he continues to think that it’s more fun to stay married to me, than to go out for a pack of smokes and never come back. I have to appreciate that in a person. It’s nice to know that you care about someone so much that you would keep chosing them every day, especially on days when it’s frustrating or scary.
I’m glad we brought our family here. I love this land, and I love our cozy little home. I love knowing where my children are at all times. I like the opportunities it is providing to all of us, and I am grateful for a quiet, safe place to heal. It was a fortunate day, several years ago, when I came to the understanding that my life was changing, and moving in a new direction. It has been embarrassing and humbling to begin to address the truth of my mental health, and liberating to begin to see light at the end of a long tunnel.
I don’t blame anyone who shrunk away from me in those days. It is hard to see people in pain. It is not your responsibility to save anyone who is drowning in their problems. Walking away may be the wisest, kindest thing to do when you cannot support someones behavior in your life. Without question, it is hard to know when you can help another person, but if you shy from asking the most important of questions, it is better that you stay away. If you are unable to be a friend, it is more authentic to bow out of the situation.
One final thought. Mental illness is not something to be proud of. It’s not something people are excited to share about themselves. It doesn’t make you spring out of bed in the morning, thankful to still be bipolar. It’s a shitshow, and it regularly robs you of your dignity and your self-respect, and a normal life. When you do work long and hard to overcome these genuine deficits you continue to be seen in the same ways by those who know you. I have a bachelor’s degree from a respected Canadian university, owned a successful business for 10 years, and I can’t get a job at the local convenience store, or clean rooms at the hotel, because my reputation precedes me.
It doesn’t matter how well I get, if attitudes to mental health don’t change, and people don’t get braver with authentic communication, I don’t have a chance in this tiny village.
I’m sorry that people don’t understand mental illness. I’m sorry that the gossip mill means privacy is non-existent, and confidential occurences become the topic of ignorant conversations. Even though it’s colourless, odourless and impossible to detect with the naked eye, you might pre-judge me based on your own lack of information, and I’m most sorry about that.
I’m sorry my non-neurotypical thinking will make you feel uneasy, and cause you to strike my name from your list of potential friends before we even meet.Tags: DO OVER!, Friendship Goals, light creeps in, vulnerability, wellness