After years of being the shoulder to cry on for one of my closest friends, I found myself at the end of an emotionally and mentally exhausting battle; it was one I would never win. I had been trying everything in my power to save a friend in an abusive relationship.
But I couldn’t do it any longer.
I was losing sleep and sabotaging my own relationships. I couldn’t talk about anything else in my social circle. I was fixated on the idea that I could save her from her manipulative partner.
I had good intentions but by trying to force change where it was not wanted, I ruined a friendship and hurt myself in the process.
I only wanted to help, but that doesn’t mean I was helpful. It was an instinct for me (like so many other people) to reach out and help a loved one in a harmful situation. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving her advice and supporting her when she ignored it.
I began to write regularly as a way to deal with the secondary trauma I was experiencing from spending my energy trying to change her mind. Only then did I see the harm I was causing myself by living my life trying to change hers.
I didn’t think it was possible, but someone else’s problems were now the biggest problems in my life. Her toxic relationship had become toxic to me.
I tried to be a good friend, and I let her problems take over my life.
The Mamamia Out Loud team discusses “green flags” in relationships. Post continues after video.
I gave her advice when she’d tell me about the things he’d say to her, or the way he took advantage of her kindness. She angrily rejected any advice, so I stopped giving it. I remember how I held her as she cried when she found out he cheated on her.
I stood back as I watched her stay with him even after she learned he was going to be a father.
I confronted her partner and told him he was a terrible person. I humiliated myself as I yelled all the horrible things I thought about him.
And then, I watched my friend get in his car and leave with him. I had embarrassed myself for nothing. I apologised to her the next day and she thanked me for speaking up, but she reminded me she was happy and in love.
I struggled to remain calm when she stayed with him through it all.
I really tried to help her see that she wasn’t stuck, no matter how much she felt like it sometimes. But she stayed. So I held my tongue when she’d say his name in conversation and I stopped telling her how I felt.
I cursed the day he was born when we discovered details about him that made his affair look so small in comparison. But after everything, she stayed.