The last few weeks have been about change and loss. Whenever things change, there’s always loss experienced as you toss away the old way of doing things and embrace the new. The transition is never easy and it can be an emotional roller coaster. One thing that I’m sure of though is that I’m never going to stop growing as I move along in my journey.
Last year I had started a peer support group in my local community for people living with a mental illness. I envisioned a supportive environment based on individuals showing kindness and compassion to one another as they struggled to live the best life they could while coping with various mental illnesses. I knew that in order to be a strong leader for this group, a person had to be on a path to recovery themselves. I believed that I had chosen a partner who had the same vision as I did and had faith that she too was working towards a healthier life for herself.
The group grew by leaps and bounds and we found ourselves supporting over 200 individuals and helping them to make the connections with each other. We held support groups each week to increase the feelings of belonging and feeling supported. But something was eating away at me. I was still striving to be non-judgemental and compassionate and it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so. I found myself being drawn into conversations that were judgemental and critical of others and I didn’t like what I was becoming.
I spent so much time and energy working to become congruent and be the same person all the time and not wear masks and I was feeling that I was being pulled in many directions. I felt a loyalty to my partner to accept her for exactly who she was, but was finding it increasingly difficult to be around the negativity and harshness. I’m ashamed that I even participated in being critical of others and I began to dislike myself for the person I was becoming.
Knowing the toll this was taking on my mental health, I explored my feelings first with my psychologist. I talked about how I felt like I couldn’t tell this person what I was feeling because she wouldn’t understand and would only see it as me rejecting her. He advised me that I needed to remember that I had to put my health first and do what’s best for me, and that meant putting up a boundary.
This ate away at me for a long time. I don’t deal with conflict well and I knew this person wouldn’t deal with it well. But the feelings were growing more intense and my confusion was creating more anxiety for me and I knew that I had to do something soon. I then consulted with my psychiatrist about what was happening and sought his advice. He advised me that my mental health was the most important thing and I needed to put the boundary in place sooner than later or pay a dear price.
After weighing the pros and cons, I did put the boundary in place. I told this person that I could no longer be a part of conversations that were judgemental in nature. Her reaction was what I expected and it was swift. The friendship ended that very moment. I’ve spent the last few weeks bearing the brunt of the blame for the relationship ending and stood back while she slandered my name in our mutual circles.
I guess what hurts the most is that she refuses to see the role she played in it all and continues to portray herself as the victim. She’s stated to people that it’s her mission to destroy me, my career, my marriage and my reputation within the mental health community. I’ve since left the group that we had started together because of all the drama and heartache it caused and what’s truly sad is that over 200 people got hurt in her crossfire.
Sometimes, people refuse to acknowledge the role they play in breakups and instead insist on laying the blame at the feet of others. I’m not perfect and I admit that I had a part to play in the relationship going south. What I didn’t do, was betray the trust of the past and reveal personal and private things that were said in confidence. Unfortunately, this person doesn’t play fair and chose to be dirty.
I am moving on to better things and am in the process of healing. It’s with the support of my true friends and my loved ones that I’m able to stand strong and remain true to the person that I am.