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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Life is hard: Let the sun shine in and get rid of the toxic people!

Life is hard. Truer words have never been spoken. Everyone I talk to these days has had just about enough of everything and everyone. It seems lately, as if everyone is let down. It's the people in your life you least expect, who seem to rise to the challenge of being there for you. I've learned this the hard way and often retired to bed at night feeling deflated. Then, I couldn't sleep because my mind would race over and over with the things I couldn't control.

One thing I know for sure, is that you can only do the best you can do. If you can put your head on your pillow every night asking yourself if you were a good person to the best of your ability each and every day, then that's all that you can really do.

I've learned that you can't make people like you. You can't change people's opinions no matter how hard you try. So many times, I have cried tears over people who just are not worth it or make assumptions about me that are untrue.

You have to trim the fat so to speak with people in your lives and immediately fire the toxic. I've limited my time on facebook as it is a social networking tool designed for good but allows the bad ones a vehicle to perpetuate their issues.

I used to be a magnet for drama and now, even if a hint of it lingers in the air, I walk away. I want no part in being around nasty people. I've learned that with my own family, friends, ex's and coworkers.

It's true that when you surround yourself with meaningful relationships, you live a more fulfilling life.

Get rid of the dead weight in your life. Sometimes, what once worked, now has no room in your inner-peace seeking journey. Things change, people change and as you know, different people serve different purposes in your life.

I'm all about forgiveness and truthfully, only when you forgive someone's wrong doings, can you ever get those memories out of your mind. Usually what happens is, you once sought vengeance on the perpetrator. Your blood boiled and you used to remind yourself that karma is a bitch and they'll meet their penance somehow, one day. An odd thing then often happens. You've moved on with your life, held your head up high and decided that you wouldn't take anymore and that this person does not deserve one more ounce of your time, energy, thoughts or heart. A funny thing happens and you hear about this person or run into them, and the anger you once felt, turns into pity, and you feel sorry for the wrongdoer.

There is nothing wrong with forgiveness. In fact I do believe the world would be an exceptionally more harmonious place if we stopped carrying the burdens of our past in our virtual backpacks through the mountains and valleys of this thing we call life. There is an invisible line in the sand however, that we must draw when it comes to forgiveness.

My husband says that I must be a sucker for punishment. I'm not perfect, far from it in fact. I've made mistakes and done my fair share of wrong but I never intentionally hurt someone. I'm not jealous, angry, spiteful or evil. I don't delight in others' sufferings and I sure as hell don't join in with the mean girl group who somehow gain strength by putting others down, never to someone's face mind you.

My nature is to please everyone. I don't like to say no and I somehow always believe that people will change. My mom said that as a child, I would always find the bad kid in class and bring them home as my friend. I would most always end up in trouble and I would think to myself: "Damn. My mom was right again!"

I'm not sure if it's the naivety of your 20's but I was always a free spirit, dancing through life with a youthful exuberance and even the challenges couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Your 30's are an entirely different story. You don't really give a shit if someone doesn't like you or what you have to say. You've gained strength and knowledge and gained the tools which allow you to cope through the tough times. Challenges still present themselves at every corner, but you're better equipped to battle. Unfortunately, that young vibrance gets tainted throughout the years, and you find yourself becoming something you never wanted to be: cynical.

I had a conversation today with a friend who told me she no longer keeps in touch with a girl that brought out an unpleasant side to her. They were always in competition with each other and one day my friend decided it was time to cut the relationship off because she did not like the person she became. I could relate. I call these people frenemies and I had one for a long, long time. A frenemy is someone who seems like a friend, but deep down you know she is an enemy. It's the strangest thing and my girlfriends used to say to me, why do you two still hang around together? Everything I did or said, she could top it. You know, one of those people who's life was perfect and no matter what, she was there first, fastest and best. If I said I was moving to England and she was in Hamilton, she would give me all the reasons why Hamilton was better than England. If I asked her if she heard about the new {insert whatever brand new, top secret piece of news you could think of}, she would retort that she had already heard about that two weeks ago, and in fact was the first to know. If I missed a night out, suddenly, I missed THE best night ever. Oddly enough, any other night that I was out, nothing too earth shattering happened, worthy of rubbing my absent girlfriends' noses in it.

Everything was a competition. When I discovered we were engaged around the same time and she asked me all sorts of questions about my plans, she offered no information in return but low and behold had the same ideas for her wedding. I am not a competitive person but this girl used to drive me bonkers. Now, don't get me wrong. Healthy competition is a good thing. It can push you out of your comfort zone and propel you forward. I decided with this one particular "friend" that enough was enough and this friendship was far from healthy. I could foresee the competition continuing well into our child-rearing years and I just gave up and silently, without a word spoken and with my absence, sent her a message: "You win." I wanted no part in this draining friendship anymore. They say that it's better the devil you know than the devil you don't, but in this case, I chose to walk away.

The same goes for people who just don't make you feel good about yourself. Forgiving is one thing but when that same person comes knocking at your front door for help, be too busy for them this time around. You know the saying: Screw me over once, shame on you, Screw me over twice, shame on me.

My best friend, soulmate and sister of a girlfriend for ten years did such a thing. You couldn't have found two closer people. We worked together for eight years, had a coffee every morning and lunched every day. We went to concerts together, had dinner parties and I used to sleep over at her husband and her home monthly. She was to stand by my side at my wedding and we excitedly chirped about our plans for Mexico. Then, without any time to rebound but probably a lot of warning signs in between, she disappeared. She had an affair with another man, ended her 20 year marriage and left both her husband and me behind with the trash. She never looked back. My frantic phone calls, letters, emails and visits went ignored. I spent many nights with Michael consoling her husband, making the drive from Waterloo to Scarborough weekly, and all the while grieving myself. She cleaned out the entire house on several trips. She took the dog, the cottage and everything else. She left a framed photo of us that read "Sisters" behind. Although still broken and reeling, I had a wedding to plan. Exactly one month before my wedding, I received a text message that read: "I'm sorry I hurt you. I love you but I'm the happiest I've ever been." Instantly, I softened. I said to my husband should I invite her to our wedding back home? He shook his head and said I would never learn. I never heard another word from her again, leaving me to wonder if I ever really knew this person at all or if the relationship was never even meant to last a lifetime.

As human beings and specifically women, we know intrinsically when something doesn't feel right. Life is hard enough as it is with things we cannot control such as health, work, bills and emergencies so the things we can control such as our social network, we should choose wisely.

I find that single people and married people don't understand each other, yet secretly at times, long for the other person's situation. There is no point in judging someone's choices, even if you don't agree with them. I have single friends that have never been married or going through a trying divorce. Both situations can have a tremendous impact on someone's self esteem. So what if someone is in their forties and still wants to go to bars? Married people may frown on this, but for someone who has gone through a bad separation, frolicking to fun music with perfect strangers just may be their key to personal happiness, even if it's just a temporary fix. You may meet people at different stages in your life that may not be there in ten years, but you've taught each other some important lessons along the way. It's all part of the journey and who cares how others want to live their life. Everyone's personal happiness is defined differently and sometimes people are reaching out in drastic ways during a life crisis.

Instinctively, we have a lot in common with the animal kingdom. We fight or flight when it comes to our family, danger and food. God gave us mortals something different than a lion or mule though...he gave us the gift of choice and rationale.

Trust me when I say this to you: If someone is in your life by choice and causing you grief or heartache, it's time to leave. They say the grass is not always greener on the other side but take it from me who's been through the full circle, sometimes it is.

I had dinner last night with some friends that I haven't seen in a year. Immediately, they commented on how happy, healthy and relaxed I seemed. I'm sure they couldn't have said the same a couple of years ago. I'm living proof that when you discard the bullshit, your life is more joyous, balanced and simple.

Life is never perfect, not even from the perspective of a dreamer like me. It sure is a lot closer to harmonious than to chaos when you've got good people around you to get through it.

I'd take salt of the earth, over rich and famous, any day of the week.

Happy days ahead to you all. Go open your windows and let the sun shine in.


Sabrina said...

I keep trying to comment on your column but I seem to have some issues! It's me.... I know! I am not very technology savy. I love your writings, especially today's! I was gonna say "sing it sister!!!"

Anonymous said...

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Cheryl said...

Wendy your story is inspiring and oh so true. Just this year my Mom and I started to weed out the toxic people in our lives; particularly family and yes friends.
In all honesty I do get lonely sometimes but I am happier and content with what little friends I still have. At least I am comfortable and I can be myself without being judged or put down.

Thanks again

Micayla said...

Wendy you are such an inspirational writer! I love you very much, thank you for your kind words of wisdom and AMEN!