Growth and people who can’t come along

In the past couple years, I’ve really been working on trying to be a better person. I’m confronting old issues, working on improving how I interact with others, and generally trying to grow as a person.

But I’ve noticed that when you actually put effort into trying to change who you are as a person, it naturally makes you lose interest in spending a lot of time around people who aren’t doing the same work on themselves.

There’s a difference between thinking that you’re working on yourself and actually doing it, though. My former friend said she was trying to be a better friend but she was still largely stuck in the same pattern of self-created drama and volatile relationships with others. She still took from me far more than she gave.

When I decided I needed to distance myself from her and she lashed out, it was further confirmation that I was doing the right thing, even though it was hard. I was calm in my interactions with her at the end, not even taking the bait to keep fighting. In truth, I was just so tired of fighting. I didn’t want any relationships where that was a regular occurrence anymore.

I don’t know if I believe in God but I do believe in some kind of guiding force. And I can’t help but notice that the two relationships that stressed me out the most (her and my mother-in-law) are no longer an active part of my life. I see the guiding hand of the universe at play in both, as though it was preparing me for my husband’s cancer diagnosis. I don’t think either relationship would have been healthy or helpful to me as we’re going through this.

The most powerful transformations in my life have always come as a result of pain. Even deciding to move back down here happened within six months of being diagnosed with MS. It was my wake-up call that I didn’t want to die in Michigan and I was very afraid that I might. My husband’s admission of his porn addiction was extremely painful to me but it was also the thing that radically transformed our marriage for the better.

I have no doubt that my husband’s cancer will ultimately transform me in a similarly major way. I don’t want it to happen by any means. But that’s not a choice I get to make, unless I choose to avoid dealing with it and get bitter, I guess. So that means that I really need the right people around me as I go through it–even if in the process I lose relationships that would otherwise hold me back.

As I posted about in my last post before this one, I wasn’t happy when my mother-in-law rather abruptly ended our regular contact. I imagine my friend felt much the same way when I said I was ending our contact, too.

But sometimes the universe knows what you need even before you do. As you go through challenging experiences that help you grow, not everyone can go with you. Sometimes that process is really painful. At the same time, you have to trust that you’ll be left with the people who help you on the path to becoming a better person.

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