Three times in my adult life, I’ve had what I thought were great friendships disappear seemingly overnight. Two were over “boys.” And one, I suspect, was over jealousy.
Truthfully, looking back at the months and weeks that led up to the end of these friendships, it wasn’t overnight at all, but just an abrupt conclusion to an unhealthy relationship that I had been holding onto for reasons probably only a therapist could help me sort out.
And each time, words were said, rumors were spread and feelings were hurt. I wish I could say never by me but in the past, I allowed my hurt over lies told about me to give me permission to say horrible things about the other person. So this most recent time, I vowed that I would stand firm and proud that no matter what was said, if anything, on the other side, I was not going to sink into a junior high squabble and gossip fest. I promised myself that my hurt feelings over things said to me during the friendship would not cause me to retaliate.
Sometimes that is easier said than done.
Over the weekend, I’ve had reason to contact one of these persons. Think of it as a breakup with a man you dated for a long time and then trying to decide whether it’s worth calling that ex-boyfriend because you left your favorite pair of earrings somewhere and you want them back. Interestingly, all weekend as I sat down and prepared, or even considered, drafting the message regarding the expensive items that I wanted to be returned to me, a feeling in the pit of my stomach stopped me each time.
I’ve ignored enough of those warning signs in my life to use caution this time around. So I waited. And then I watched General Conference.
Specifically, I watched Elder Holland chastise us for holding onto offenses and anger.
Anger is more dangerous than the offense that caused the anger, he said. And that was when I knew that feeling in my stomach was the Holy Ghost’s way of guiding me to wait.
How often have we held onto anger because we felt that anger was justified? Perhaps it was but as Elder Holland told us, “Forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
We are required to forgive all men, he said, and that means that even when someone hurts us intentionally, even when they hold onto or lose our expensive things, even when they gossip about us and tell lies, even then we must forgive.
I don’t know if it comes with getting older but I have found it easier to accept these teachings than I did a decade ago when I first encountered this kind of fallout with a close female friend. Back then, the offenses I felt could not be calmed so easily.
The second time around I began to wonder why I pick toxic friends and that forced me to look inward. And this time, I am holding onto Elder Holland’s words of “cherishing peace.”
This time, I can truthfully look back and see that I did what I could for this relationship. I can now pray for this person and hope she receives the healing and self-love she needs to not take out her anger on those who care about her. This time, I can walk away saying I choose peace over toxicity. I can even say those items I wanted back are not worth the argument that will take place to get them.
I have found the best way to get to this place is to practice A LOT of self-love and personal growth. I have found that when we are in a good place with ourselves, it easier to move on from the apology we never received. It is easier to acknowledge our own mistakes made that led to the fight in the first place. And it is easier to walk away knowing we will be okay. In fact, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to personal development if you want to check it out.
If you find yourself in this place with someone in your life, above all, please remember this: