I’ve written a lot about my struggles with romantic relationships on this blog, but lately I’ve also thought about friendships, and how I have let the toxic ones impact me over the years. The same problems that get me in trouble with dating also get me in trouble with friendships, but it usually takes much, much longer for me to realize it. If I’ve invested a lot of time and energy, saying no or stepping away from someone becomes very hard for me, if not damn near impossible.
It’s time to say no. I have to learn to say no to things that are not okay for me.
My problem, you see, is I naturally want to take care of people. This means I tend to seek out romantic partners and friends that probably need to be taken care of in some way. Not calling anyone broken, but I tend to find people that are maybe not whole enough in themselves to be in a functional, healthy relationship themselves. In dating, I find out VERY quickly that my natural tendency to “caretake” won’t be reciprocated (note, I don’t always expect it to be, but you know.. it is nice sometimes damnit). In friendships, however, it can take months or years to find out that some people just don’t care or maybe aren’t worth the investment.
The end result is I spend a lot of time trying to make people happy, and in return I am left drained.
I’ve talked to my therapist quite a bit about this, and how I can work on determining where to draw my own boundaries. I do have some very great friends, but I have many over the years that I have given my power to, and it’s gotten me hurt. I’ve put my trust in people that I thought would have my back, when all they wanted to do was thrust a knife into it for their own means. Sadly, in a lot of these situations I’ve seen the writing on the wall, but I’m so scared to just say “no” to someone that I still let it happen. I don’t want to look like a bitch, or look selfish, or look like I don’t care about someone that I’m close to. I’ve realized now that although it might hurt to put up these boundaries, and it may be hard for me to say no, it’s going to hurt a whole hell of a lot worse when I inevitably get burned by someone exhibiting these red flags.
As much as I wish to have the power to do so, I can’t change anyone. All I can change is myself, the amount of myself that I am willing to give to other people, and how I react to situations. I am the writer of my own story, and the only one who gets to say how I live my life is me.