I am not good about cutting people out of my life. well, I suppose that’s a lie. I am perhaps a little bit TOO good at it sometimes. A better way of putting it would be that I don’t take lightly the idea of making that decision.
I still struggle mightily with a decision I made eight years ago to end a relationship with a friend who had become like a sister to me. For years, people had been telling me that she wasn’t good for me, and yet I held on, probably because her three kids had become like my own kids, and I couldn’t bear the thought of not having them in my life.
When it came down to it, though, she had failed to stand up for me at a crucial point, and that, combined with my continued discomfort with her parenting style, meant that I had to make that choice. It’s NOT an exaggeration to say that at the time, I needed to concentrate on keeping myself alive. But cutting off that friendship meant that I was cut off from her children as well. There’s no provision in the law for “friend joint custody”–even grandparents are put through the wringer when they want to see their kids–and although I half-heartedly tried to reach out to them, it was years before I saw any of them again. (Thank you, Facebook!) When I did, one of the kids reamed me out, a reaming I know I deserved, but despite the fact that I will always regret having walked out of their lives, I still maintain that I “had” to do it.
This doesn’t, however, make it any easier to live with myself.
Fast-forward a few years, and I found myself in a situation where I was the “cut-off-ee”, so to speak. What was hard for me in that situation was that the friendship was severed with very little explanation, and when I pushed for an explanation, the one I was given was entirely vague and not at all satisfying of my confusion, anger and hurt.
So I then put myself into a different category–“Sure, I’ve cut someone out of my life, but I was very clear on the ‘why’ of it at the time. I would NEVER do that and not explain to the person why I was cutting them off.”
(But, while I know that is the truth, it doesn’t help me to feel any better about myself for making those choices. Plus, if you include my on-again, off-again connection with my father, then it’s not true that I’ve never cut someone off without a full explanation. No matter how much I would like to believe that I’m not “that” person, the fact is, I really AM that person. But who among us ever wants to admit that we are what we despise?)
So why am I bringing all of this up now? Because I’ve now made a decision again to cut someone off. This time, it is definitely clear WHY I did it, and this time, I’m able to keep the person’s kids in my life. In fact, I’ve been trying to help the kids get through the hurt and pain they’re experiencing as a result of the bad choices their mom has made, the same choices that have driven me to what may seem to be a drastic decision.
The problem is that the old adage, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” seems to be in play here.
She is my friend . . . my sister . . . and she is at the tail end of an extremely risky pregnancy, with her own life and the life of her baby at risk. And I can’t trust that she will make the right decisions, that she will care for herself the way she ought to.
But I can’t stand by and watch.
I can’t fall in love with this baby.
I can’t be around this man who has done NOTHING to earn the title “daddy”.
I need her to know that this is NOT okay. and while I despise “toughlove” techniques and anything behavioral, I don’t know any other way to get the message across to her. I had made it clear to her (before I knew that there was a baby involved) that I would NOT be around if he came back into the picture. I am standing by my word . . . but it is very, very hard to do.
I miss her.
I worry about the baby. and about her.
My heart is broken for her sons, who are acutely aware that she is choosing this man over her own children, and to be honest, my heart is broken for myself as well. That my friendship means that little to her . . .
I keep thinking “Stockholm Syndrome“, and maybe that’s what’s going on here. I know she’s scared, and feels alone. but I also know that she doesn’t value herself enough to know that she deserves so much more.
And that breaks my heart more than any of the rest of it.