|If at first you don't succeed, that's one data point.|
2012 was hard. 2012 was awesome. I ended a lot of bad friendships, which is bittersweet.
Endings suck. It's painful and disappointing to end friendships. These friendships were with not with bad people. They were with good people, each and every one, but we had a bad friendship.
I had a significant role in what was wrong in every case. I "trained" people, in a sense, to mistreat me. I rewarded them for doing so, dismissed my feelings, and even rationalized their mistreatment and encouraged them to persist in it.
But to be fair, not everyone took me up on the bargain. Some friends refused to dismiss my feelings, saw through my rationalizations, and refused my invitations to take advantage of me. I am very grateful to them. It was through their arguments, ultimatums and resistance that I learned to better discern good friendships from bad friendships.
This is a really useful skill.
But still, I miss a lot of these people with whom I've parted ways. One was a sardonic and subtle wit, another a philosopher poet, another was a Dharma buddy, still another a friend of 30+ years, one a master story teller, another a yet-undiscovered screenwriter, musicians, artists, scientists and engineers. I miss them all. I didn't want to make a bad friendship with them, and I chose them because they were interesting and worthwhile people. I have always had good taste in people.
But, I need help. I need feedback. I am easily misled by people I admire. Those suffering with subconscious agendas based on unequal distributions of power found me to be a willing dance partner. It used to make a kind of sense to me to bargain for love, to engage in covert contracts.
No More Mr. Nice Guy.
I did learn it takes two to tango. You can't make a bad friendship by yourself. If one is willing to engage the work of navigating the hurt and disappointment intertwined with becoming close friends, either the other will come along or the relationship will end. Love heals, but it has to be practiced, and sometimes "this is not okay" is the most loving message you can give to someone.
But, it hurts.
The sweet part is that it did open up room in my life for my good friendships, which have grown deeper and more satisfying. I went into to this process with this theory that doing this would somehow help in this way, and it turned out much more successful than I imagined. Like de-cluttering a shelf, what remains is much more clear. There's room. My closest friends have become so much closer, so much more dear.
Even though was a hard year, it was a good year.