Ending a toxic friendship is not easy, but essential

Walking out of disrespect

I recently experienced deeply disturbing behaviour from a friend. They broke their promise to me about 5 times in a row in one week and made light of it. They reassured me that it was going to be fine and they would do what they said in time. They subsequently avoided committing to a specific time and stopped communicating in the final few days as the deadline approached.

Within 24 hours of needing to finalise that time sensitive and seriously important task, I realised that the way I was being treated was very abusive and my stomach was twisting and I felt sick. Feeling disrespected and devalued with no way of being understood made me realise, this friendship was not healthy and I was holding onto the fantasy of what it should be rather than what it has been for a few years. 

I ended up completing the highly time sensitive task myself that became more expensive because it was left so late. However, I avoided a disaster by refusing to delay it for several more hours, hoping on blind faith that this person I considered a dear friend would show up and get it done. That person has shown no interest or remorse for letting me down in this significant way.

So what do I do now? I think it’s a grieving process because I have realised I have lost someone who I assumed had shared my core values but perhaps I was believing in a fantasy.  I am allowing myself to grieve because I have had to come to terms with the fact that this friendship needs to end. So the loss does feel significant because I really cared about this person. Moving out of denial is the first part of that and acceptance is the phase I am feeling now.

I know that I cannot entertain excuses and give them another chance because they have had several over the last few years. I have to refer to the solid trunk of my tree; the immoveable non negotiable part that says, “I do not flex and tolerate being treated this way”. I think that part of us has to come out on special occasions, otherwise you leave yourself open to destructive behaviour that can drive you into a horrible state of mind.

You have to move on from some people. And not all of them will allow you to explain yourself or allow you to feel understood. They can never be wrong. You have to be wrong. They are the ones that perhaps are in a dark place and any power they can get over you turns into abuse of that power, where truth is traded for the upper hand at every opportunity.  It is interesting to watch, because they seem to get a high from controlling you and pushing you to the edge. I do find it fascinating even though it’s painful being on the receiving end. 

You try to reach out to them and appeal to their better nature, but they are quick to throw it back onto you, like you are the problem eventhough they broke the promises and created dishonest excuses. By asking to be treated better, you become the unreasonable one! Let that be an alarm bell if you have a friendship or relationship that keeps repeating this pattern. I am a big believer in innovating the invitation to help people want to change for the better, but their free will has the ultimate say and you have to move to the trunk of your tree to protect yourself from the damage they will cause if you allow it. 

Do you have anyone that deeply disturbs you in how they treat you? Do they seem to not really care but put on the charm after they repeatedly let you down? Do you find yourself repeatedly having to forgive them? Are you getting exhausted by the game playing? What have you done to address this and have you moved on or at least are you realising you should?

My name is George Helou and I’m the founder of EP7 – Empowered for Purpose in 7 Steps. I am a best selling author, Life and Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Work Culture Consultant. My latest book is Cinderellas Secrets – The Untold Story of Ella www.onceuponeaview.com 

My office is located in Subiaco, WA. 08 9380 8350. www.lifecoachperth.com

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