When I was 11, I met the first love of my life. We were camping next to each other one weekend and, besides being the same age, we had everything in common. She was my soul-sister and best friend. I was sure we would be inseparable forever.
By the time I was 17 and 18 however, we started to grow apart. I was rebellious, risk-taking and adventurous. She was compulsively well-behaved. Her parents thought I was a bad influence. I thought she was predictable. I loved her anyhow.
And then one day, she stopped answering my emails, didn’t return my phone calls, and our friendship ceased to be. I felt loyal to our friendship, but for her, I had changed too much.
It hurt. And in the same breath, I completely understood. The directions our lives had taken were so startlingly different, and the ways that we approached things so contradictory, it was challenging to find a common ground. I was creating a life that didn’t fit conventional expectations. She wanted to feel comfortable and safe. Something I couldn’t offer.
I just wanted to feel free.
I was changing in ways that were uncomfortable, for both of us – I always seek out experiences that provide me with the most growth – which felt destructive for her. I got it. And I didn’t hate her for it. But it would have been awesome if she had communicated her actions and choices with me, so I didn’t have to base my thoughts on guess-work.
Since that time, I have left behind and out-grown many, many relationships. Friendships, lovers and even family members, whose correspondence had become destructive instead of supportive in my life. That’s the thing with life. Everything and everyone is constantly changing. Holding on, and expecting things to stay the same is more destructive than saying goodbye (for now) to things that no longer serve us.
There are kind, graceful, and honest ways to end destructive relationships without running anyone’s life. (Even your own.)
+ Firstly, know this: It’s not forever. Just because you’re not harmonising right now, doesn’t mean you will never find a common ground again. Everything has its ebb and flow. Even relationships. Go with that.
+ Secondly, get clear on why this relationship has become destructive for you. Is this person holding you back? Are they taking away your freedom? Are they being a negative influence or bringing you down? Clarity is magic, in that you can discern their behaviour and choices from their spirit. This is where you get to accept where you are in your life right now, in relation to where they are, and know that these places just happen to be different right now.
+ Thirdly, give gratitude to this friendship for all the lessons, experiences and beautiful moments you have shared. Every single person is a mirror, a gift, and a blessing – even if your relationship wasn’t the healthiest one. They teach you where you need to change and grow, as well as reflect back to you, how far you’ve already come.
+ Finally, share where you’re at, with love and kindness. Write a letter, an email, or a card. Leave them a voicemail or a text message, and tell them why you need to step away for a while. Explain that you love them and are grateful for what they have brought into your life, but that it’s time to release each other, for both of your growth and wellbeing. Say it with grace, and keep it short and sweet. Don’t engage in an ongoing conversation. Just stick with you decision, and leave it with that.