Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Emotional nesting

image from weheartit

With all of these changes going on in my little world, I've become very evaluative of the people and things in my life as of late. Becoming a mother is the craziest thing I will ever do. If I think really hard about it, and think about Hank and my life, for the rest of our life, it's pretty wild to know that we are bringing a little person along on this journey. It makes me want to cry from happiness, and conversely makes me so, so incredibly scared. What a responsibility. What an insanely terrifying thing to have a little being rely on you completely. And how beautiful it is to be able to create this life, to nurture it, and to give it so much love. I believe that because I'm a thinker, because I take everything apart in my mind, I'm in this evaluative state. In a way, I feel like I'm emotionally nesting and taking inventory of my life, the people in it, and the kind of future I want for our family. Because I've had the same core friends for over a decade, I've had a sense of stability in terms of friendship on a deep level. I've made new friends here and there, but as time marches on, I've found that so many friendships have faded away. It happens. People change, people grow up, people move on. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about relationships. I write a lot about this topic in this space because it's really something that is on my mind a lot.

I have a few questions for all of you, and I'd love your input.


1) Do you have people in your life that you feel obligated to speak to or spend time with just because you have a history and not necessarily because you enjoy your time spent with them? Do you feel guilty if you don't stay in communication? Does it ever feel forced?

2) If so, why do you continue to keep someone in your life if you don't feel they add anything positive to it?

These are some questions I've asked myself recently.
I'm at a point now where I just don't care to even deal with the negative. If you bring more negativity to my life than positivity, no thank you. If there isn't a mutual happiness when the other person experiences happiness or success, no thank you. If I feel that you aren't trust worthy, no thank you. I feel like perhaps I sound a bit harsh or a bit "much," but wouldn't you agree that because life is so short, it's pretty imperative to be choosy? When I think about where I am going in my life, and all of the people I love that I want to be a part of it, there is just no time to deal with these negative nellies. And I understand that not everyone is happy all of the time- I'm proof of that. And because I do deal with depression from time to time I understand that part of a friendship is listening to the good and bad, allowing someone to vent, and being there for them rain or shine, through happiness and crises alike. I'm more trying to get at the negative-all-the-time kinda "friend," the person who can't be happy for you when something good happens, the one who always seems to have a negative comment, either direct or indirect. The kind of people who leave you feeling emotionally drained and exhausted. Those are the types of people I'm talking about.

And
I'm not sure if all of this made sense. I started typing, and it kind of all came out. The main point is that I feel I am just really emotionally taking stock of my life. I know what works, and I know what doesn't. I know what kind of people I want to surround myself and my family with.

38 comments:

  1. I rarely comment on posts, I just have to let you know that I think your blog is GREAT!. I have been reading it for sometime now. I can honestly say that I understand your nesting feelings that our going on right now. My son is now going to be 12 years old, I can remember that all the friends that I did have before I was pregnant are still my friends just not in the same way. Most of my closest friends I have meet while my son was in daycare, preschool, and now elementary. You will find that friends you will relate to more are the ones that have kids. The ones that don't will not understand how things have changed in your life once you have your baby. I hope everything works out well.

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  2. Danielle, you got it right when you said "life is too short". Keeping a person in your life because you are too scared to hurt them, or feel an obligation towards them, is not what life is supposed to be about. Even though it's a hard decision and can make you feel terrible, it's worth it. Recently I chose to remove a person from my life who I found incredibly emotionally draining. I am still very young, and even though I have a lot of life left, it's not worth wasting on someone who brings you down.

    Don't feel guilty or wrong for wanting to be happy as often as possible. Happiness is what life is all about.

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  4. I know how you feel. As soon as I graduated high school I left home. my dad and my step mom were (are) physically and emotionally abusive, yet I feel that I'm a bad daughter for not calling them at all. I struggled with the same thing you are for while. my boyfriend really put it in prospective for me. he said honoring your parents doesnt mean you have to go out of your way to be nice to them, or to talk to them, it just means that when I see them (christmas at my grandma's house) that i should be respectful and walk away when things get too much. i think that's the best advice, when someone is adding negativity to your life, you have to protect yourself. if it was a stranger you'd have no problem doing it, so you kind of have to look at the situation like that, like "how would i react to them if they weren't close to me?" it's very hard, and there might be some consequences (for instance my dad and step mom tell my extended family (uncles,aunts,cousins) they have no idea why i dont talk to them, so they dont look bad) but not having those negative people in your life is a lot better. and you have to learn to ignore what people say. it's hard, but you're so much more happier :) well i hope that helps. be strong, and im sure you'll do whats best for you. just remember to protect yourself and to make yourself happy :)

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  5. I recently experienced the end of several friendships. It was my decision to "drift away" from several people. The friendship had become something that I felt was forced, and I was no longer happy in the relationship-in fact i was often angry and hurt. life IS too short to worry yourself over relationships that hurt you, though I do still struggle with feelings of guilt from time to time. Life is short and you deserve to be happy!

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  6. I have let go of most of the negative people in my life. Even if we had a history, it's easier to deal with the short-term pain of losing a friend than the recurring pain of negativity every time you share your life with them.

    There is a girl that I was friends with for about a year who constantly made me feel horrible (sending me passive-aggressive emails, being rude to me when we were alone but then giving me gifts in front of my fiance, completely bizarre behaviours!), so I made the choice not to be friends with her any more. Unfortunately, she is now dating a good friend of my fiance's, so I have to be the bigger person and try to be nice when we are together in social situations. It's too bad that it's not always possible to cut out all the negative, but if your core group are all supportive and positive then it can help to correct the poison that you need to have in your world because of obligation.

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  7. After I became a mom I had to evaluate most of my friendships and ask myself who I wanted my children to grow up around. It was pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. Something about being a parent really puts your relationships in perspective. Turns out the people I thought I'd be friends with my whole life were the people that I'm not close to anymore -- and, surprisingly (at least to me), the mom friends I made on my pregnancy/new baby journey continue to be some of my closest.

    I think a lot of friendships that aren't strong to begin with will naturally fade once the baby comes. It just seems to be the way it is...

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  8. i totally agree with what you wrote. i'm learning that you shouldn't force a friendship with someone. time changes things. but i think they still leave a hole, something that you found enjoyable from them that is now missing. but if the bad outweighs the good and you want to surround yourself with generally positive people, which you should, then move along. and maybe someday you'll meet again.

    well that was pretty ramble-y... kate

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  9. I'm struggling with the same thing right now. As we get older and our lives change, sometimes friendships that were really strong before just can't hold up anymore.

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  10. Honestly, the only people in my life that are a necessary evil for me are distant family members. I call them once every few months, etc... But I don't care for them, and don't get along with them. They are a great source of unhappiness for me. However, seeing them on a regular basis is pretty slim so I think your situation might differ.

    Anytime I notice someone in my life that is bringing me down, or making me upset consistently... I usually just drift away from them. Don't answer their calls, only general replies and I only hang out with them 1-2 times more before we stop hanging out altogether. I think it's almost the easiest way (without being super mean) to let some people go.

    However, I think alot of people would expect more decency than that and I haven't ever "drifted" away from really close people. The people who have been close to me that I needed to clean out of my life.... well I just told them how it was. I wasn't ever harsh, just blatantly honest (ok, maybe a little harsh, but definitely not a bitch about it) and just gave them the straight up truth. Some understand, and some can't understand.

    I hope you are able to weed out the people in your life. It's a little tough but once you do it you will feel really great. Obligation to friends is a really hard thing....

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  12. i have a person in my life that i feel just brings negativity to the table, which brings me down and i feel i don't need that in my life. they make me feel really small the way they treat me/talk to me. i feel obligated to speek to this person. i feel like i have to talk to them because, again, they are friends with all my other friends. it sometimes does feel like a forced friendshop. i feel really guilty trying to back away from the friendship. i'm having a hard time feeling like i can be okay with myself and what they think of me after. i feel bad letting go of friendships with people, it makes me feel really picky in a way (i don't like thinking of it in that way). i sometimes feel like the people i unfriend (is that a word?) don't understand me when i decide i don't want to stay in the friendship. they don't understand why i back away...and then when i try to tell them, they turn things around and make me feel like i am the bad one and i really hurt them. i don't get it at all.

    :(

    i know if a person is going to make me feel like this, then i don't need to put up with it!

    :)

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  13. I've been dealing a lot with this lately its nice to know i'm not the only one

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  14. I feel like if you have to make yourself see someone, you shouldn't see them at all. It may be hard to cut ties, but if you honest only feel like you should see them because of a history together, then you really don't care about the other person. It's not a terrible thing it's just how life is. Friends come and go, it's life.


    I don't think negative relationships should be a major part in anyone's life. I just cut ties with a person I was friends with for five years because she's being so terrible to me in the last month. I care for her but she obviously only cares deeply about herself and I can't handle it anymore. The moment she wasn't happy for me when I got a promotion of sorts in school, I knew it had to end. I can't deal with someone who is trying to make me feel badly for my accomplishment.

    I hope you can continue to weed out negativity, Danielle. I know that it helps anxiety a lot (I have major anxiety problems and negative people are the biggest stress for me).

    Love and Turtledoves,
    Jaco

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  15. I, respectfully, take issue with the earlier comment that happiness is what life is all about. As a disclaimer, I know some friendships just aren't meant to be--that certainly isn't my issue. I mean, realistically, you can't be friends with everyone. There aren't enough hours.

    However, I'm uncomfortable with the philosophy of approaching relationships with a sort of ultimatum demanding that people give as much as I do. Maybe we can't think of those lopsided relationships as friendships but more as caretaking relationships. Now, obviously there are healthy boundaries, particularly when you have a family, and steps to be taken so we're not enabling people in their destructive habits, but sometimes people need others to intervene in their lives and help pull them out of bad places. And sometimes when people are oblivious or addicts or just annoying, they still need love. I feel like most of the time these are the people that need it most.

    I don't feel like I have a ton of friends, so I'm not sure if I'm coming from the same place as others here, but I like the way my husband approaches his friendships. I've never known a man who was so invested in people and who hung out and called his friends to chat and to check on them when they're dealing with trials. Some are, indeed, emotionally draining, but I admire his approach of seeking what he can give to them rather than what they're taking from him. I think there's something really admirable about a life lived this way. I want to look back on my life at the end and remember the good I served and not just how cloistered and happy I was.

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  16. My husband says "only do what makes you happy". If being around a certain person doesn't make you happy, then really what's the point?

    Looking back on certain times in my life I realize that someone who I once considered a close friend, was really the one bringing a lot of drama and negativity to my life. Once I stopped forcing myself to continue to be friends with her then I was much happier.

    Sometimes a friendship needs honesty. Tell the person how you feel. Sometimes it helps and everything is out on the table to be dealt with, and sometimes it makes things worse, and you'll possibly get your feelings hurt. But if you feel like a friendship/relationship isn't working anymore, chances are the other person feels it too.

    Recently I posted "Should I bite my tongue or speak my mind." Well, biting your tongue hurts so I recommend speaking your mind. Sometimes the truth hurts but in the end we all heal. If you stay in a negative place you will be dealing with the pain of that for much longer.

    Much love and good luck!

    xo,
    Cat

    www.nowoodenspoons.blogspot.com

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  17. I think about this a lot and I've come to the same conclusion as you :). My roommate and I talk a lot about this because I have no problem letting people go when they aren't positively impacting my life whereas she feels an incredible amount of guilt. I like to think of friends as boyfriends. If things aren't working out in a romantic relationship, you break ties and go your separate ways. Sometimes it hurts but it's almost always for the best. I don't understand why no one has applied this to friendship before. Sometimes a friendship just doesn't click and I think it's entirely appropriate to let some of them go. You'll have fewer friends, but the ones you have will be a million times better than a crowd of acquaintances :).

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  18. Girl, you have basically said what has been swirling around in my head very often this whole year.

    I used to really let it get to me when people I've known for YEARS din't make the same efforts as I to keep in touch and be a significant part of each others lives. I would handle the situation by basically pulling a dramatic intervention of sitting the person down and demanding they work harder at saving our dying friendship.

    You know what I do now? Nothing. I don't call or text or make any effort to participate in those people's lives because like you said, life is too short. I appreciate those people and the friendships for what they were and finally realized its okay to drift apart. Lives change. Things and new people happen. And to be quite honest, the people who want to remain in your life and make a positive impact WILL make the effort. These are usually few and far between but the way I see it, its quality over quantity.

    Good luck sweetie. You're a smart cookie you'll know what to do when the time comes to cut people or keep them around. <3

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  19. Several months ago I realized that it was necessary for me to permanently distance myself from several girlfriends -- this decision came after 5 years of "friendship" began to fizzle.

    Our collective dynamic was no longer the same and I accepted that they were no longer a supportive or positive influence in my life... And you know what? I do not miss these women at all! Since pretty much cutting them out of my life I have never been happier. Surprisingly, I have no regrets and do not feel guilty about my decision. Life actually feels lighter and more hopeful without them.

    Actually, I feel relieved to have finally discovered what was negatively affecting my life and eliminating what I considered to be false friends who thrived on seeing me unhappy and became irritable when something good would come my way.

    Since our falling out, I have made new friends who I have more in common with and my future feels brighter.

    I hope you can find the same peace.
    You are in an amazing place in your life right now and don't let anybody spoil this wonderful time for you. Best wishes to you and your baby.

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  20. Several months ago I realized that it was necessary for me to permanently distance myself from several girlfriends -- this decision came after 5 years of "friendship" began to fizzle.

    Our collective dynamic was no longer the same and I accepted that they were no longer a supportive or positive influence in my life... And you know what? I do not miss these women at all! Since pretty much cutting them out of my life I have never been happier. Surprisingly, I have no regrets and do not feel guilty about my decision. Life actually feels lighter and more hopeful without them.

    Actually, I feel relieved to have finally discovered what was negatively affecting my life and eliminating what I considered to be false friends who thrived on seeing me unhappy and became irritable when something good would come my way.

    Since our falling out, I have made new friends who I have more in common with and my future feels brighter.

    I hope you can find the same peace.
    You are in an amazing place in your life right now and don't let anybody spoil this wonderful time for you. Best wishes to you and your baby.

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  21. For my whole life, I've wanted a close-knit group of girlfriends. At various points I've had the semblance of such a group, but not a true friendship between all the individuals where I truly felt accepted. In the last couple of years, I've finally found that group and I know it's right.

    And the interesting side effect of finally creating my close friendship circle is that I've let some other friendships go. I guess I was holding on them because I was afraid that was the only kind of friendship I would find. But that turned out not to be true. As soon as my friendship group became solid, letting some of the less healthy friendships go wasn't even a conscious decision. It just made sense.

    Letting one of these friendships go has been hard for me though. It's a girl I thought I'd be friends with forever, but she's become... not negative, exactly, but her entire existence has become about one-upping everyone through any means possible. I don't think she even realizes she's doing it, which is sad, but I'm just tired of feeling like I'm not good enough after every time I hang out with her.

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  22. I love this post so so much. I struggle with these same thoughts often...and usually I decide to let old friendships slowly fade away unless they bring something amazing to my life. There's no need to make a scene or be rude, but it seems like if certain friendships are made to fade away, they just do.

    Especially with a new baby coming, you definitely don't have time to waste on negativity! Only have the BEST people in your life, and you, Hank and baby Hampton will be so so fulfilled <3

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  23. well, it sounds like most of us all feel the same way about this subject. i have not had a child yet, but i am getting to the point in my life where it is a possibility, and i suppose there is a natural maternal instinct that starts to kick in during these years, b/c i have been sort of doing the same thing. i have spent my whole life feeling like i had to reach out and continue friendships even if they were toxic, b/c i was afraid of hurting their feelings b/c of our history. but i am finally realizing it is not worth it. i would much rather have one or two really close, good hearted, friends, than a lot of so so friends. i feel closer to some of the wonderful girls i have met online than i do my best friend from high school. and i thought we would be two peas in a pod our entire lives. but people do grow and change, always. and i think the ones you naturally grown and change with are the ones that need to be by your side.

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  24. Isn't it crazy when you get preggers you completely change. I would never go to the Dr., but with every little weird feeling I wished I could have had a nurse to call.

    Wait until you have your babes. That will totally weed out all of the people who really don't mean much. Some single friends may not want to be around because you can't go out anymore and even some family members may not be around as much as you thought.

    I was silly and ASS-u-me(d) that everyone would want to be so involved with my little munchkin, but reality is so far from that. It stinks, but I always think the folks who are there and WANT to be there are all your little babes needs!

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  25. such a good post! Not random at all! One of my new years resolutions (cheesy as that sounds) was to be super positive & not surround myself with the negative people in my life. Wow what a difference! Life is just too short & why waste precious time with people that in the long run are not that important (sounds mean, but its the truth). Also it is easier said than done, certain people just don't quit & others that you considered to be good friends & thought the bond was stronger with, turns out just isn't the case. Honestly its sad but again in the long run totally worth it to find out sooner than later. Thank you for sharing!

    xo
    ~Emily

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  26. I am a person that thrives in deep relationships. I think that are the most important part of life. Deep relationships only become deep due to the positivity that comes from it. I have never been one to keep those around that bring me down because I am not giving them 110% of who I am and that isn't fair on either party. An obligation to make everyone happy is a common feeling for me, but I have been through parts of life where all I needed was a friend and those people that I felt obligated to where magically gone. If they are true friends and want to be a part of your life, they will understand your new and exciting future. They will support you and your decisions and most importantly where you want to go in life with this new little sweet pea you two are bringing into the world. My Mom has always said, only give your heart to people that will hold it tenderly. Just something to keep in mind :)

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  27. "so many people enter and leave your life. hundreds of thousands of people. you have to keep the door open, so they can come in.
    but it also means you have to let them go." -extremely loud & incredibly close,
    jonathan safran foer

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  28. I really think that the whole "you are who you hang out with" saying is true. & to have such negativity around all the time is not something I'd ever want simply because of that. Being around someone who is constantly negative can sometimes make you more & more negative. & why would anyone ever want to be so down in the dumps all the time. I do appreciate that these people want to be my friend, but they have to actually be a "friend" for it to count... So I go through a weening process. I'll stop initiating hang outs & stop "caring" so much...like, asking how they are because they always answer with long depressed answers. If there is ever positivity then I give it more time. But if they keep being negative jerks I just can't do it. Theres just a point where it's too much negative. & there is no reason that you ever have to deal with that. Especially if something amazing is happening to you & they cant be happy for you. I mean...who can call that a friend?

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  29. Hey Danielle. This blog was very inspiring and so right on! You inspired me to make a blog of my own on the subject, because I have struggled with this too lately!!

    Ashley

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  30. wow what a rare post! i totally know what you mean about those relationships/friendships that are emotionally drainging. I DID have a group of close friends from my high school days (im now 24) - who continally tried to drag me down - now I no longer associate myself with them. Ive found it fantastic, however emotionally hard at times, wondering what they're up to.

    thanks for bringing this up. life is too short to worry about those crappy people in our lives!

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  31. It's so funny because as I was reading those questions there was one person I was thinking about that entire time. And I do feel a bit of guilt if I were to let them out of my life because of the history that we share. My boyfriend always asks, "Why are you friends with her if she doesn't make you happy" and my response is ALWAYS "well, because we've been best friends for so long and she was there for me through blahblahblah." But the thing is, I moved 400 miles away from everything I knew so it doesn't really affect me negatively because I don't talk to her that often. I only see her maybe once when I go home and EVERY time its always about her. Anyways, for me, I continue to stay friends because I feel a sense of guilt if I don't. Plus I feel I'm too nice to just let people go out of my life. Hope this helps <3

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  32. Life IS way too short for the negative type of friends you described!!

    I did what I call a "spring cleaning" about four years ago and I cut those people out of my life. In addition I cut out people who always seemed to have negative things to say about others. I didn't make a big issue of it, I just stopped making the effort to keep these friendships going and finally they faded.

    This was the best thing I could have done! It not only made my heart much lighter, but not wasting time on those individuals gave me more time to spend on the people who add positive things to my life. And, I feel I have become a better friend to them in the whole process as well! :)

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  33. This post reminds me of my long time best friend. She is a Debby Downer, she spends most of her time holed up inside, and she is constantly putting me down. Despite all of this, though, I love her. I don't need to spend a lot of time with her to do so, but that is something important that I'll never give up.

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  34. After we had our son, All those people/Friends that I wasn't sure of disappeared on their own..when you have a child your heart will be filled with love and you'll no longer have room for negativity, listen to your heart and it will have the answer for you! (cheesy I know but I found it true)

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  35. Since we've already discuseed this & I've shared my feeling with you on the matter, I'm not going to go into it to much. I just want to say that, it happens. Friendships come & go. Honestly, once you have the baby, you'll find that you're just plain too busy to deal with negativity & those people will fade away. You have the most amazing thing happening to you at the moment & when the baby's born, you'll be filled with so much love & that's all you'll want to focus on. Happiness & Love. The rest won't be important.

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  36. Such a beautifully written post. It seems we may never be ready, but according to whom? As long as you are ready for what comes, that's all that matters.

    As for the questions, I have had relationships like this and I've let them go. It was really really hard- they were not only friends I grew up with since elementary school, but they were my bridesmaids and my maid of honor. I pathetically brought their toxicity into parts of my marriage without realizing.
    My husband deserves better and so do I, so as hard as it was, my life is simpler, happier and even if I may feel alone, I'm never lonely.
    You and your family deserve the absolute best, even if it means doing what you must do for a happier, simpler and amazing future.
    xo

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  37. I can relate...my best friend from high school and I are in that sort of situation. We keep saying we need to get together, but it never happens. Anytime we talk it's about old memories, not new things. We're at different stages in our lives. As much as we'd like to believe we're still best friends, we're not. We don't hate each other or anything, but the friendship has pretty much disappeared.

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  38. Oh Daniel! Congratulations on the baby boy and your bright future as a stay-at-home mama!! BTW, I LOVE your blog. You're such a positive person and it's very inspiring :)

    I'm 7.5 months along with a boy too and I'm over the moon!!
    Even so, I am struggling with the idea of leaving my career to become a full-time stay at home mom. I've been financially independent most of my life; I'm fearful of loosing that freedom and depending solely on my husband's salary -- although he supports the idea of me becoming a stay at home mama.

    I commend you. All the decisions you are making right now are very brave. I hope I can be so brave.

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