It happens frequently in the world of mental institutions, treatment centers, support groups and recovery programs; we become friends (or something resembling friends) with those around us also seeking up. Except this type of friendship feels deeper. It’s based on this type of personal and deep understanding of one another, of what the other person is experiencing and the relationship becomes more important than other relationships.
We look to these people for validation and consolation. We support one another, we find encouragement. These relationships are essential to the recovery process (in my opinion). They were to mine. Knowing that I was not alone in my battle was invaluable to my progress and ability to push forward on my most difficult days. But when do these relationships become toxic? When do they go to far?
For the purpose of this post her name will be Katherine. I met Katherine in college and immediately we connected. I felt like we understood each other we stood by each other through highs and lows, classes, stressful situations, family problems and more. What I didn’t want to acknowledge at the time though was that our friendship was hardly healthy.
I entered recovery before Katherine and I always felt like it was part of my responsibility to help her get better. But in reality everyone’s recovery is their own responsibility. Our relationships became one filled with resentment and distrust, anger and frustration on both sides. Finally (and thankfully) there was an explosion.
Neither one of us was really actually being a friend to the other one by the time our friendship ended.
Our friendship not only wasn’t a happy or good thing; it was actually keeping both of us from experiencing good and wonderful other things. We felt obligated because we had been friends for a long time and we had been through so much and we were scared to not be friends. But, friendship is supposed to be about mutual respect and love, joy and sharing experiences. Friendship should lift weights not add them.
Toxic friendships can not only hurt yours or someone else’s recovery but they can make life have a little grey cloud hanging over head. Letting go of my friendship with Katherine was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done. It was sad, because while it was overall toxic we had a lot of good memories too. But I have so much more freedom to invest in relationships that are beneficial for myself and the other person. I’m sure Katherine does too.
You deserve healthy, vibrant, beautiful relationships in your life.
Go get them.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.