People tell you that you should remove toxic people from your life.
But what if you’ve removed someone from your life not because they are toxic but because you were toxic when you were with them? And what if they want back in now?
I had a friend when I was in college.
When I met this friend my first night at the college dorm, I was blown away. She was sophisticated and glamorous. Everything I hadn’t tried in high school, she had already done, and more. She made being bad seem like fun – kind of like those bad girls in the noir detective films. I was smitten.
We moved from the dorm into an apartment together. It was a big party. Until it wasn’t.
The stuff I thought was so sophisticated turned into adult-sized problems I just wasn’t mature enough to handle.
A few years passed. My friend married an older guy with a lot of money who seemed pretty decent, but the marriage didn’t last long. I found my own – not older — guy and we moved in together.
We weren’t super-close anymore, but we were still friends.
Until the time – the second time, actually – I got a call in the middle of the night from the cops. My number was the emergency number my friend carried. And she had overdosed – again. The cops wanted me to know what hospital she was going to be in – again.
When she was sober, I told her not to call me again. I told her I needed to save my own life and I just didn’t have anything left to give her.
Years went by and then, last month, there was a message in LinkedIn. She had kept track of me. She could understand if I didn’t want to connect, but she had always loved and admired me. How was I?
I let the message sit for days.
She seemed to be doing well, based on what she wrote me about her life. I was happy to hear that.
But did I want her back in my life?
I am left to wonder. If I don’t offer to repair the friendship, am I trying to punish her somehow for things that were completely out of her control? Am I protecting myself from future heartache in case she’s not as put together as her message made her sound? Am I afraid that her sadness might somehow smudge the happy-happy now I’ve created? And am I the person I thought I was if I just shut her out again?
I don’t have answers. I don’t want to hurt her. I just don’t want to hurt myself either.