Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thoughtful reflections on broken friendships

*HICK* Yep, before I start this post, I will admit I have had a couple glasses of wine.. So be prepared. There maybe some teary moments and LOT's of spelling and grammatical errors. To all those who love the mistakes, get your red pen ready, you have some marking to do!

Oh, yeah, this ain't running related either, so all those who are only interested in my running "sans shoes", go get a cup of tea and meet me next week..

I have just read a fantastic post by one of my "FaceBook" friends, (a.k.a people I actually like but maybe haven't met - at least not in a long while), about letting go of relationships - in fact friendships. I won't reference her blog post because she is a private person and like me, probably hopes as few people read what she has to say and those that do are like-minded.

She was talking about letting go of "poisonous relationships" and how we need to be true to ourselves. Yep, before you ask, I have had a couple glasses of wine, so forgive me for being deep. It happens occasionally - really it does!

It led me to remembering a number of friendships of mine that have gone "sour" in the past and how sometimes breaking strong relationships can actually make you grow as a person and although is a negative in the beginning, it leads to stronger bonds in the future.

It has only happened a few times and although initially it was painful, I am now grateful for the break.

My first friendship that I broke was with my best friend at the age of 17. Looking back I am not sure how it really happened, (I think it was over a guy and my inability to recoginse social cues). However, it broke me deeply. She was my copy, we stayed over at each others houses, we used to talk to each other till 2AM, either via phone or in person. We were so in-sync we could finish each others sentences. It was almost freaky. Then somehow it went wrong. I remember being heartbroken for the first time in my life and for a little while it destroyed me. I made the decision to distance the friendship. She moved, I found a boyfriend and then we almost forgot each other. It took me years to recover.

Years later after a few emails in-between we finally hook-up on facebook and although the interaction is probably small to what it used to be, it seemed familiar. After, Twenty years, I think we found we haven't moved too far apart. Okay, our life-styles are different; she's married- no kids; I am married with a kooky kid, despite this, I can still see that connection. It's not as in-sync as it used to be, but yep, I think deep down we still think on the same wave-lengths. It's comforting to think that friends are friends no matter what. I like the person she is, I am so glad that we have become friends again. She makes me smile, she is intelligent and she is fun. It's good.

Last year I had to break another deep relationship. Our friendship was forged on being in a strange country, with kids and no family. We moved within a week apart and after a couple of months she was one of my best friends and we clung to each other, like drowning sailors probably cling to the same life-bouy. A couple of years later, my little family made the decision to move to Australia and our friendship, due to distance, began to fade.

On our decision to move back to Vancouver, I think the relationship began to be strained. She was never happy in Canada and the thought that we would make a decision to actually come-back was abhorrent. Initially I think this wasn't an issue, but after she made a visit back to the UK, I think my decision to choose my little family over my parents in the UK rubbed a nerve. Coupled with issues with my Son that I think she felt was my fault instead of the Autism he was later diagnosed with, our relationship failed. I am not sure she truly believed D had mild Autism and that his behaviour was due to my parenting.

I had weeks, months even, of not understanding her behaviour. Times where I would double-check what I was doing because I believed it was my fault I was upsetting her, although now I think it's because of my decisions. I would be in tears because I couldn't understand how I had turned into this un-sympathetic monster she had portrayed.

Eventually, I couldn't handle the upset and strife, especially with everything else that was going on. I knew that there was nothing I could say or do that would make anything right in her eye's, so I backed off. We didn't have play-dates or meet-ups. We didn't get together and all telephone conversations were strained.

She left in the Summer to go back to the UK, which is what she wanted all along. I have to admit at the end I was relieved. I haven't had much contact since. In the last 6 months since she has left, D has come on leaps and bounds. He goes to school, he controls himself and he is free to be himself. Is it because I am a better parent? Has my parenting style changed? Nope, I have just not had the negative influence to doubt myself. I got him the help he needed. I have just begun to believe in myself - that I knew what I was doing. It turns out, I did.

Am I now sad that my recent BFF relationship failed? No. Seeing the decisions I have made outside of her influence, I am grateful I stood up to be myself. That I went the way of what I thought was best for my family. Even now, despite losing my Mother, despite being so far-away from my family, I know that my Son is doing so much better here than he ever would have done in the UK. It hurts, but I know in the long run, going against her opinions has meant my son will have a better life.

I am hoping that in the future our friendship will go back; not to being as close as it was; but to a point where we can be happy for each other and we respect the differences in our parenting. I am not sure it will happen, but I hope.

On looking back on those friendships I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for Friendships that are broken, but through time are re-forged. I am grateful for the friends I have. Those that love me and accept the decisions I make. They may not agree with them, but their advice is constructive, not destructive. I am grateful for friendships that are made with no real physical presence. Sometimes those that get to know us best are those that see us when we rant and rave in the internet-ether. There are no judgements.

Ultimately I am glad that I managed to stand firm in my decisions. That I trusted my little family and I made decisions best for them. To see my little family grow and thrive because they are themselves is the greatest present I could have. I know I realised this early on, but I am glad to be reminded that, being myself, openly and accepting my critics, is ultimately the best thing I can do for myself and those I love. It's the best lesson I can teach my Son.

Yep, a very thoughtful post - normal, nonchalant, wonton rudeness will commence again next week!


  1. Before having kids I thought I knew how to parent (ha ha!) and after having kids you realize you know nothing. I have no patience for people who think they know better when it comes to your kid or parenting style. You know your kids best. I think you are an awesome mama and I'm proud to call you my friend. And don't worry about too much wine at MTD's we will need it after the race just to move :) Jesse's stories about drinking beer in the middle of the night always make me smile.

  2. I can't remember why our friendship fell apart so dramatically either! I think it was something to do with Rob and me being an idiot! But I like to remember all the good times of growing up with you! All the silly stories, and the sleep overs, and the phone calls. And I'm glad we've become friends again. I'm sorry you've lost another friendship but glad you were able to figure out what's most important for your son.

  3. Also, I think the people who question what you're doing are really questioning themselves. It's not necessarily about you but them. Maybe your friend felt some guilt herself about not being available for her family and sometimes that people would rather look at other people's decisions instead of looking at their own actions. Or maybe I'm way off base too :)

  4. I love my internet friends :) The best relationships I have had so far have been those I have met through common endeavors online.

    I too had a falling out with a friend when we were in highschool. I loved her so much and it ended abruptly. Years later we are grown up with families and fulfilling grown up lives and have reconnected again on facebook. We will never be as close as we were years ago but I wonder if we would have turned out as well adjusted as we managed to turn out if we would have still been together raising hell as youngens.
    I have had to break from my family due to them disrupting my relationship with Jaymon and because they were interfering with how I parent and the very hard decisions that come with autism.
    Its one thing for people to think they know how you should parent a typically developing but man it gets me fired up when people think they know what its like to have an autistic child. Thats a whole different world.
    I am so glad that you and your little family are happy and thriving.
    We too are alone here in Des moines and are staying because its best for Jupiter that we are here. Its not as far away from family as you are and that must be so hard but I kind of know what its like to go to great lengths for family :) You are an amazing mama for sure!

  5. Mel, I remember all of the fun we had too. I think I was just trying to share that strong friendships can be broken and at the time they may feel as if they are un-repairable. However, good friendships are always there and when they are repaired, you can still see the strength in them. After all these years we are still on the same wavelength; we still have the same quirks and although our lives have changed over the years, I think if we got together even after 15+ years I think we would still have a riot! It's good and I'm happy we managed to hook up together again.

    Shel, I think that perhaps you are right that some people would rather attack other peoples decisions than look at their own. Unfortunately in those circumstances I don't think there is anything you can do but walk away. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but walking away from my "current" friendship was the best for both parties. Who knows in a few years time we might be able to get back together and be friends again. I live in hope - I mean I have a good example that it can happen, so who knows?