What to do When a Friendship Has Gone Bad
I have this tendency to hold on to things way past their expiration date. My husband teases that I refuse to throw out left-overs until there is a small forest growing on them. If I keep going at this rate, I will have planted more trees than God. Partially, I can’t stand waste. Whether left over lasagna from last week’s dinner party, or years of memories with a friendship-gone-stale, I can’t stand the thought of throwing away something I put so much hard work into. Unfortunately, not everything can be reduced, re-used, and recycled. The tricky part is figuring out when it is time to let go.
Most people would gladly let go of their problems, but few people are willing to give up the thing causing their problem. I hate mornings. Maybe I wouldn’t hate them so much if I could learn to go to sleep sometime before midnight, but I never do. I hit snooze half a dozen times, roll out of bed wondering if there will ever be a way to make-up for the hundreds of hours of sleep I’ve lost, and then pump myself full of caffeine so I can make it through the next ten hours without killing someone. Then comes night fall. I am now pumped so full of caffeine that I can’t sleep, so I have to take a sleeping pill to force my eyes closed, making it even harder to wake up the next day- causing me to drink even more caffeine the next morning, and so the cycle continues. I know why I can’t sleep; I’m just not willing to put down the Grande Skinny Caramel Macchiato quite yet. It’s like the devil in a cup. It tastes so good, but I know it’s really so bad.
Famous advice columnist, Ann Landers, once said, “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” A few years ago we lived in quaint neighborhood where the fences were low, the trees pressed up into the sky, and the lines between our neighbor’s yards were as invisible as the lines between our hearts. Beyond the chain link fence separating my family from the one directly behind us, we watched as our neighbor’s dog, Fido, took a turn for the worse. He was fifteen, ancient in dog years, but the way he held on made us believe that he loved his family more than heaven itself, because he fought so hard to stay with them. Fido started slowing down, not that he ever ran too fast, but towards the end the lack of sparkle in his light blue eyes seemed to say it all. Then we noticed that he was peeing blood, a very bad sign, even if you have no medical background once so ever. Day after day we watched Fido hobble painfully through the yard, fearfully prodding our friends to do what needed to be done, whatever that was. What lasted only a month, felt like an eternity. Cancer had ravaged the inside of Fido’s body. Surgery was expensive, painful, and came with no guarantees. The answer seemed obvious, Fido was in terrible pain, and time was running out, but we had no say in the matter, Fido was not our dog. Letting go meant losing a close friend, but it was the right thing to do- not just for them, but for Fido. Everyone was suffering; it was time to say good-bye.
I say good-bye every day. It is actually the first thing I say every morning. My husband leaves for work around 5:30am, while I am still dreaming beneath a sea of quilted comfort. But before he leaves, he always leans over my side of the bed, gently nudging my shoulder to let me know it’s time for him to go. I crack open my eye lids, revealing a tall handsome man in uniform bidding me farewell. “Good-bye,” I whisper, “I love you,” falling back asleep before he has a chance to respond. Not all good-bye’s are this easy. Sometimes we have to say good-bye to something we know isn’t going to come back. Sure, it will hurt, but in the long run letting go doesn’t hurt as much as holding on to something that went bad a long time ago. Whether you are questioning when to let go of old lasagna or old friends, the same rule still applies. What does your gut tell you? If it makes you feel bad, it is time to let go.