Take a Load Off | Handel Group

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Take a Load Off

I ghosted a close friend of mine for over a year. 

She and I had once been like sisters to each other, becoming inseparable after doing volunteer work together. But then, over time, I faded out of her life without telling her why. My only remaining connection to her was through a WhatsApp group where she and I showed off how wonderful our (now separate) lives were.  

Except I was still connected to her…in my head. 

In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Here are a few of the things my head was fighting with her (without her!) about:

  • She’s so competitive. That’s so stupid for her to compete with me, as we have such a large age gap and we are at different phases of life. 
  • She gets so insecure when other people become close to me. 
  • She points out the faults of others, rather than focusing on the good work they do. 
  • She took advantage of my unconditional love for her and made me do things, like take actions against other people, that I now deeply regret. She didn’t stop me.

Now, had I EVER for a moment thought to tell my friend what I was really thinking about her? No way! Trust me, I had a whole other list of reasons why it was better to stay silent and run away. That other list went something like this:

  • Why dig up the past? Shouldn’t I focus on the present moment? 
  • Why would I go through the pain of speaking the truth and hurting her and her ego?  
  • I should not hurt anyone with my words – they should be happy in my presence and go back smiling.

Yes. I did happen to notice that my list on me and my “Why Nots” was nicer than what I had on her…

With help from my coach and Inner.U STUDENT, I asked myself a life-changing question: “Am I really able to live in the present moment as long as I’m holding the past against my friend?” 

If I was proud of myself and who I was in my relationship with her, would I be ghosting her? Grumbling about her? If I was still talking to her in my head then had I said everything I needed to…to her? Was I fully resolved? Is the past really in the past?  Was she the only problem in this relationship?

The answer to all of the above, as you may have guessed, was NO!!! 

What I realized wasn’t just that I was capable of harboring a commercial-load-sized laundry list on someone I cared about. Although, that too. Or my ability to sugarcoat (lie) in the name of not hurting others and blaming them for it. That too. Or my tendency to deem someone __________ {fill in the blank, i.e. competitive}, but not ask THEM if they are indeed fill-in-the-blank-ing. 

In other words (more balanced and honest ones), I realized my friend didn’t stand a chance with me. And, come to think of it, neither did some other people in my life. In the name of people pleasing, I was not being my true self good and bad with them. 

With this realization, I wrote out a new set of ground rules for my (higher) self:

  • I will not escape by avoiding telling the truth. Rather, I will take full responsibility for my emotions and feelings and not use somebody else as a proxy – e.g. letting other people’s opinions influence me.
  • I have nothing to justify or prove. I am not here to prove that I am a “good” human being. I am here to be truthful and free!
  • I will patiently hear my friend’s side of the story, without becoming defensive or judgmental.

And then, you know what I did? I called her up. I invited her to lunch at my house. I even prepared one of her favorite meals. Sure, I was scared. As much as I followed the module in Inner.U STUDENT on Laundry Lists and then the one on How to Have Hard (to say the least) Conversations, I was still scared. The voices in my head were louder than ever. My inner-Chicken (the voice of fear) preferred, without question, to keep the past buried as deep as possible, and my inner-Brat (the voice of the tantruming child) told me I was crazy, that she OWED me an apology and a meal. 

It was awkward to say the least. 

We sat down to eat and she asked me what I wanted to talk about. [Note to higher self: listen to your coach better next time and set up the context for the conversation first.] But, there was no running away now… 

I talked through the laundry list I worked on with my coach, point by point, and asked her for her point of view. At times she agreed with me and at times she became defensive. To my (lower-self’s) surprise, I also agreed with her on certain points that she made and apologized for my actions and behaviors that had hurt her. At other times, my ego popped up and I felt hurt. However, because I had designed the conversation ahead of time, I was able to keep my awareness and do my best to prevent it from overpowering our conversation as that was not my intent. In fact, my intent was quite the opposite.

 In the end, she and I decided to go our separate ways. It’s just not a match.

Sure, it was the same result we already had, EXCEPT now I felt a deep sense of freedom inside me. The burden of unnecessary enmity vanished. I knew that when I thought of her in the future I would not think of my original laundry list. Instead (and for better), I could cherish all the good moments we had together and not feel uncomfortable to look her in the eyes and have a conversation should we bump into each other again. 

Cleaning up my list with her also allowed me to make my “living in the present moment” practice deeper, because I didn’t have that bug running in my mind! 

Think about it (I certainly did!), something that was running in my head for almost a YEAR took less than a week to resolve and leave me completely free. 

You do the math. It was well worth my time, and I feel so grateful for having done so.

What a (laundry) load off.