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Episode 17: When Your Friends + Family Disappoint You


[00:00:00] We all have expectations of our family and friends — as well we should, because if we don't, we just have a bunch of people around us who may or may not be deserving of our time and energy. But when you're going through something really difficult, it brings up a lot of stuff for other people....and sometimes that "stuff" gets in the way of their ability to show up for you the way that you expect.

[00:00:33] When this happens with someone that's really close to you, it can be really disappointing and leave you questioning your relationship and wondering whether you even want this person in your life. I've noticed that personal crises really bring this stuff up.

[00:00:56] It happened primarily to me during my divorce. I remember when I separated from my ex-husband, I became pretty private. I didn't really want to share with people what I was going through, mostly because I didn't want my daughter to ever go back and find me ranting about her father on the Internet, as I truly believe anything you write is forever. And I didn't want to negatively affect her in any way, especially because I knew that I was emotionally not in a healthy place. But that said, I did let people know that I was divorcing. I basically announced on Facebook that my husband and I were splitting up, and I had a friend reach out to me and ask me what happened. I told her we didn't have a healthy relationship, and he was struggling with some anger issues that were taken out on me and causing a lot of stress in our family.

[00:02:15] She responded by saying that it really resonated with her, and then she just like dropped off the face of the earth. And I was like, "what the heck?" It took her getting a divorce herself six years later to come back and apologize to me and say, "I'm really sorry. I asked you a really personal question. And then I dropped off the face of the earth. Honestly, it's because it hit too close to home for me. And I couldn't face the fact that the issue that caused you to leave your marriage was something I was experiencing on a day to day basis. And I wasn't ready to leave yet and I couldn't deal with the knowledge that I probably *should* be leaving." That was the first time I realized that *my* hard thing brought up a lot of stuff for *other* people. She wasn't the only one that happened with. Actually, there were a couple more people.

[00:03:22] I thought, how interesting that her behavior wasn't about me at all, I made it about me. I was like, "what did I do wrong? Did I share too much?" Even though I didn't really share much at all, I questioned myself. I lost friends during my divorce and I mostly lost people who ended up divorcing themselves. So I think that this woman's experience was probably pretty similar to the other people. It brings up a lot for people when a marriage ends. It's like a mirror, making people question their own relationships . . . And sometimes they're not willing to do that or they're not ready to do it yet.

[00:04:10] When I went through cancer, I made a friend named Laurie, who is super amazing, through one of my support groups, and she shared a tidbit that really resonated with me, like full body chills resonated with me. She said that another survivor had given her a wonderful gift in saying, "let go of your expectations of other people during this time, because their reaction has nothing to do with you." That statement is very similar to what my experience was with divorce, because cancer *also* brings up stuff for people. It's existential! I mean, people seriously lay awake at night worrying about death and leaving their children because they die. Death is *the* major fear for so, so many people. And you having cancer makes them face that. And they don't know what to say. They don't know how to show up for you. So you need to let go of your expectations of people and recognize that what they are, what their reaction is, doesn't actually have anything to do with you. It has to do with their own issues. It doesn't excuse that they aren't showing up for you the way that you would want them to, but it does explain it.

[00:05:48] And that helped me a lot because it allowed me to have some empathy for people and recognize that people are doing the best that they can, and sometimes the best they can is not good enough for me. But that doesn't mean that they're a bad person or that I have done anything wrong. It just means that they are running up against their own issues and they don't know how to help.

[00:06:18] So. Basically, my message to you today and my hope for you is *not* that you won't have expectations of people - because we should all hold people accountable for the way that they treat us - but that you not to take it personally. You can definitely reevaluate your friendships and your relationships if someone isn't showing up the way that you want them to, but also hold some space for empathy. It's not your responsibility to fix it or to educate them about how they *should* show up . . . But if you have the energy or the desire to just say, "it seems like you're having a hard time with this. This is not helping me. Here is how you can help me." Holding space for empathy never hurt anybody. It can only make the world a better place.

[00:07:23] Not taking things personally will make your experience of life better, and help you realize that sometimes people's issues that they come up against is so big that they don't know what to do with it. It's not that they don't have a *desire* to help you or a *desire* to reach out and be a good friend to you. It's that they don't know what to do and they are literally frozen by their own crap.

[00:07:52] So I hope that that helps. If you have had the experience of losing friends because of going through something difficult, feel free to reach out to me, especially on Instagram at @mightyandbrightco. I'm going to be talking about this this week on social.