Some days it feels like the world is crumbling around us, and it’s hard to do much more than go home and crawl under our bed sheets to shut everything out.
As hard as it might seem, on these days self-care is more vital than ever.
Sometimes self-care means taking a long bath, making a nice meal for yourself, or tuning out of social media for a while. Taking the time to check in with yourself can help guide you towards whatever you need to get your psyche on balance. But what happens when you figure out that the one thing you need to do in order to get your sanity back on track is something you’d rather step on broken Legos than actually do?
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Toxic friendships are incredibly, impossibly painful to deal with. They teach us that things are going badly because of something we did, and the longer we’re friends, the more guilty we usually feel about ending a relationship because we can’t fix our supposed shortcoming.
Setting boundaries was always hard for me. I understood tangible value: friends liked knowing they could count on me to show up with a car when they needed a lift.
One friend in particular used to wake me up at midnight so I could drive her to the store so she could get something with caffeine in it when she had withdrawal headaches.
This friend and I had been a duo since I was 15. We’d been through a lot together. The death of my partner, domestic abuse from her family, the loss of friends, and abandonment of family members – it’d been a road nearly a decade long, paved with sleepovers and books and heartache. That’s why moving in together seemed like such a good idea. She’d been so supportive. She’d encouraged me to go to therapy, supported my efforts to construct boundaries in my life. Right up until they impacted her.
I told her I couldn’t drive her to the store at midnight anymore; I was going to make grocery runs in the afternoons on Saturdays, and she was welcome to join me then. She was a little annoyed, but agreed readily enough. Come Saturday afternoon, she didn’t show up, so I assumed she didn’t need to go to the store. Later that night, she showed up, smiling, informing me she was ready to go now.
And I didn’t take her. I stopped putting up with requests to drive her around when I had to wake up the next morning, stopped bearing the financial burden of her friendship. I stopped letting her use my phone number on applications – a choice that even now, years later, resulted in creditors repeatedly calling my line for bills she still hasn’t paid.
Friends and my therapist told me I needed to put my foot down and have a serious talk with her, but I was afraid. She’d been my friend for so long, and moreover, she’d been with me through so much. Surely this was just a rough patch? I couldn’t just abandon her.