When Do You Walk Away?

So a running theme in my life lately has been when to walk away from someone and focus on yourself. It is tough to tell someone you need some space to figure yourself out, especially when they are going through things of their own and you want to be a good friend. When does a person get to the point where you can decide to walk away? When is enough actually enough. How many times can you listen to someone ask the same question, with the same answer before you just stop letting them ask the question?

This is a tough choice, just as tough as when you decide to end a romantic relationship. However, we seem to have an easier time ending the romance. At least I do. For me it is easier to walk away from a difficult romantic relationship then it is to walk away from a friendship. In both cases when one chooses to leave this relationship, it is because something about it is toxic. You fight all the time, the other person uses you, you lose self-esteem from it, and any number of other things which are not good for sanity.

Now I advocate sticking around for people with mental health issues, so this is not about dumping someone from your life forever, but instead when to pull back a bit, so they have a chance to depend on more than just you. I am as guilty as some of the people I have decided to distance from, about being extremely dependent on my friends for all kinds of support. I also apologize when I realize I am doing this. Luckily I have friends who are honest enough with me to tell me when to shut up and leave them alone for a bit. However, I have some people in my life who I would help no matter what, yet make me feel like even more of a nut job than I already am.

This last type of person is the one who I really want to understand how to walk away from. I can honestly say that I am unsure in this area of how to do this. I had a conversation with a long-time friend recently, where we agreed that I shouldn’t read her facebook anymore because it was stressing me out. I can’t explain why it caused me so much stress, but she did understand and thought it a good idea for me to take a step back. This is a rare occurrence though, this is an oddity among the, at times, too much to handle friends.

How many times can you go pick someone up in the middle of the night, before you say you need sleep more? I am always willing to go out of my way to help a friend when I can, however, I have also been learning, that sometimes I need to take care of myself first. Well in fact I need to take care of myself first all the time, if I don’t help myself I can’t expect to be able to adequately help another. It is hard to say “no” to a friend in need. However, sometimes you just can’t spare the $10, or the two days to help. When this happens I feel guilty for not being able to help. I’m not sure why I feel like I should always help, but I know that I do.

I suppose the most frustrating aspect of these types of friendships is they tend to be one sided. One person needs something and the other gives it without question. This often leads to resentment of one of the friends, even if the other one is well meaning, it doesn’t always balance. So I think I have started to discover my answer—focus on the balance. If the relationship is give and take in both ways, with mutual respect, then it is healthy. If it isn’t, then I suppose that is when a person can take the time to distance themselves and reevaluate the relationship, whether it is romantic or just friendship.

Embrace the crazy, but search for the balance. Find that balance and the crazy and everything else will fall into its proper place. So will the friendships and everything else we look for to fulfill our lives.

But then there was this time, when my friend actually got stuck in a chimney… that’s when I knew it was time to distance myself. (We did get her out of the chimney first, of course. Don’t worry, her foot healed just fine, but I’m not sure about the rest.)

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2 thoughts on “When Do You Walk Away?”

  1. Glad to see that at least you are trying to get away from the toxic people, if just for a while. Not seeing someone for a time can really help you decide if you want them in your life or not. Love and miss you my friend.

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  2. I think you came to the proper conclusion when you started talking about balance. No relationship should be completely one-sided all the time. There needs to be give and take. You don’t want to give up on someone who needs you, but you do need to take care of yourself first. If you need a break, take a break. Maybe you’ll be able to come back when you’re stronger. Maybe it’s time to let that one go. Time will tell.

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