I’d just left a birthday weekend away with my ‘best friends’ and it happened, I had to pull over at the side of the road and recover. My first anxiety attack – my heart racing, I was gasping for air and overcome with emotion. Looking back, many years had simply culminated at this point and actually, many times, I’d been suffering from anxiety without realising.
There had been occasions when I’d been purposefully left out, lied to, neglected and talked about behind my back. And all because I wasn’t ‘a sheep’, I had ambition, I was organised and practical, and sometimes, I had an opinion (a polite one I might add).
My gut had been telling me for years that the friendship I had with two women wasn’t good for me. But I continuously tried to please, seeking acceptance. I kept on being a good friend, hopeful that I’d receive it in return.
I worried that should I end the friendships, I’d suffer for it and regret it and I had serious FOMO. And how on earth would I end it, diplomatically, nicely, without adverse effects? There was also someone in our group that I desperately didn’t want to lose, and there, lay the biggest complexity.
But the toxicity had got me, it had already changed me as a person and affected other areas of my life. These people’s actions and words had begun to control my thoughts. That birthday weekend simply became realisation, true evidence and a catalyst for change.
That was the last day we were altogether and the last I saw of them. Ultimately it was my choice and it’s proven to be a hugely positive one at that. But it was so hard to go through. And reactions say a lot; one of them made no contact at all, after I’d communicated that it was goodbye, after a friendship of more than 20 years. That hurt, a lot.
I initially blamed myself; I blamed my personality, my life choices, my everything.
If you feel this way, don’t ignore it. Start taking little steps to back away rather than stepping closer, trying to change for others. Look at the proof, the times you’ve repeatedly been left feeling horrid inside when you’ve only tried to do the right thing and be genuine.
Trust yourself. Be brave. It’s really sunny on the other side!