Jealousy, judgment, and the real reason friendships end

No one tells you that ending a close friendship will haunt you for so long, even if you initiated it for the sake of your health and know it was the right thing to do.

I think everybody has some jealousy of others. It’s a normal human emotion that can only be overcome with a lot of work on yourself. Admitting your jealousies does not mean that you can’t get past them or that you hold resentments against another person. Instead, admitting jealousy is just being open about it. You can only work through the things you acknowledge. Pretending you don’t have any jealousies means they go unaddressed.

Similarly, I think everyone is a little bit judgmental in their own way. I’ve lost friends who were very open-minded about sexuality but super judgmental about people going to church, for example. Again, it’s a normal and common human trait to judge. It can be overcome with a lot of effort or peace with yourself but it’s not easy.

My religious struggles have always been within myself, as I tried to work out what I believed. I never pushed religion on anyone in the slightest. How could I, when I wasn’t sure what I believed myself? It was just one place I sought answers and ultimately didn’t find them there, anyway.

I always believe people can change but sometimes it’s not enough. You don’t owe anyone endless chances if they’re bad for you. I had to let a friend go last year, not because I was jealous or judgmental of her, and not because I wasn’t giving her a chance to change. And I still miss her anyway.

Though I suppose maybe that was true that I was done waiting for her to change, but it wasn’t for the reasons she thought. It was completely about not seeing much change in her drama and anger. My husband pointed out that she was the only friend I was consistently scared to see, which isn’t supposed to be part of friendships. But it was her anger that scared me away, not my jealousy or insecurity.

I had to protect myself. I was frequently abandoned (or outright attacked, in the case of when I moved down here) when I most needed a friend. If something really good happened to me, she was extremely jealous and usually used that time to attack.

She frequently had crises that she needed to work through with someone immediately and I was always there. It was the intensity and urgency of her reactions that made it more than just being a listening ear. Responding to it made me feel stressed out. It was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. I have tendencies of trying to be the rescuer and I fell into that role too often. That was my issue and I couldn’t resolve it in a friendship with her.

It wasn’t just the frequent crises that made me decide to cut it off, though, because we had been friends for almost 20 years. It’s that I never knew when she would blow up and attack me with messages upon messages calling me names and accusing me of things that weren’t true. I needed to see progress made toward emotional stability and self-awareness on her part and I just wasn’t seeing the effort.

We also talked a lot about our various health problems (I joined in with my own, which I admit), which made me feel sicker and more scared of my health. I complained more and felt more miserable because our conversations were so focused on it.

But she said I wasn’t being honest when I wrote here that we just grew apart. At the time, I said we were just too different. And that was the truth: I always struggled to keep conversations going that weren’t about our problems because our interests were too different. All that was true and I was just trying to be mature in saying no one was to blame.

Still, she was right that I had other reasons I wasn’t talking about. It wasn’t because I was jealous of her privileged upbringing, like she believed. I just had enough of her being angry and constantly in crisis mode. But there was no point in telling her that because she was too angry to really listen to me.

Almost 20 years and it was still the same. I was just done. And once I’m done with someone that’s usually final.

I am trying hard to change and improve myself. I examine myself and my motives a lot, which isn’t always easy. I’m trying to get in touch with my own feelings. A lot of people who know me well say they can tell that I’m changing and that my moods are more stable. I have to keep working on that because my first priority is myself and trying to be a better person. I have relatively few close friends, but they’re people I trust and our conversations aren’t shallow or focused on complaining.

I was always the first to apologize after our huge blowout fights, some months later whenever I missed her. But I can’t this time and I don’t think she’ll ever do it herself either. I don’t know if she even does regret how she went off on me. She said I wasn’t letting her change, but the fact that she went off on me like she did was proof that she hadn’t changed. Her explosive anger has always been my biggest issue with her.

I still love her and miss her but I have to prioritize myself. If someone makes me feel worse rather than better, I can’t have that in my life, especially right now. I’m pretty tough and can get through things without a crowd of friends; I often process things better that way. To be honest, I can’t imagine she would offer much comfort as my husband is going through chemo, the scariest time of my life.

I wish she had learned to control her rage and didn’t always resort to using things I told her against me, but I hope that someday she will change those things for the sake of others in her life. It would’ve been nice if the friendship wasn’t so lopsided with me always doing more for her than she did for me, too. But I don’t think that will happen and it’s sometimes hard to let go.

I doubt she’ll ever apologize to me for the torrent of abuse she unleashed on me last year, though I would welcome it. But for all I know, she still thinks I wronged her. But I have to prioritize my own health and if something is bad for it, I have to focus on my own healing first. Even if that means letting go of someone I love. I finally gave myself closure.

The link between narcissists and empaths

I saw something today addressed to someone I know to be a textbook narcissist. It was a meme about what it’s like to be an empath, and it was heavily implying that this person–the known narcissist–was actually an empath.

And that’s the problem with labels.

There’s this other meme that goes around a lot that says the narcissist’s worst nightmare is an educated empath. I don’t think it’s really that simple. And I don’t think there’s as much difference between both narcissists and empaths.

But now that there’s so much discussion about narcissists and empaths, I know for sure that some narcissists actually see themselves as empaths. I know this at the very least because the person I stayed with the longest when I moved down here described herself as a highly sensitive person and an empath. But if you looked at her actual behavior, it was much more narcissistic in nature.

I have no doubt that she truly saw herself as an empath and a highly sensitive person. She saw herself as a victim of other people, her now ex-husband in particular. And she always talked about how much people sought her out because she was so empathic, and I saw no evidence of that at all. Just because someone sees themselves as a victim doesn’t mean they really are.

As I said recently, we all think we’re the heroes in our own narratives. Surely we would never have any bad traits. Us good, them bad. Except it’s never that black and white.

However, the above graphic shows that there is such a thing as a narcissist. I’m definitely not saying there isn’t. Just that even narcissists can see themselves as far more innocent and blameless than a lot of the memes say.

Note that I am in no way saying that I think there’s no such thing as an empath or highly sensitive person. Nor am I saying that all narcissists think of themselves as empaths.

The truth is that these labels are very non-specific and not that useful. I believe that some people, maybe a lot of people, are both narcissists and empaths. They are at the very least opposite sides of the same coin and neither one is healthy.

You can still deeply feel the pain of others but not let it affect your behavior. Or you can selectively feel the pain of only certain people (or animals) but be completely oblivious to how your actions make people feel.

I think a couple things are true about the whole topic of narcissists and empaths:

Yes, I think you can be both. But not everyone is both.

You can have some narcissistic traits and work to get better if you’re self-aware enough and committed to the effort.

A lot of people just have unhealthy relationship dynamics. Trying to paint a picture in which all your exceptionally good qualities make you the victim of someone evil and manipulative is missing the point entirely.

Any time you start saying, “I am good and so sensitive that evil people take advantage of me,” you need to step back and start working on yourself. In relationships, nothing is ever only one person’s fault. Even if one person is more selfish or more difficult than the other.

You have no obligation to stay with someone who mistreats you. That’s definitely not what I’m saying.

What I am saying is that if you’re in a screwed up relationship with someone who seems to have real problems, you have to ask yourself why you’re sticking around.

All relationships have dynamics. Unless at least one person makes an effort to change, you can reasonably expect that dynamic to continue.

When you change, the relationship will inevitably change, too. Sometimes it will get better. But sometimes it will also get worse.

There’s no point in getting hung up on labels. I do think narcissists and highly sensitive people tend to be attracted to each other, but I think narcissists have far less sinister intent than people say they do.

Does that mean we should feel sorry for narcissists or excuse what they do? No, definitely not. Boundaries are good. If someone makes you feel bad and makes no effort to change, you have no obligation to stay.

But sometimes these relationship dynamics are just the way two people connect. Some relationships are just unhealthy. We don’t have to pathologize one person while declaring the other the victim.

Self-awareness is the key here. If you think you’re highly sensitive but also suspect you have narcissistic traits, then work on overcoming the narcissism.

I’m pretty convinced that narcissists aren’t roaming our cities, looking for highly sensitive empaths to victimize and suck the life out of. They’re just people who don’t know how to have healthy relationships. And the people they’re in relationships with probably also don’t know how to have a healthy connection.

Neither one is off the hook. Neither one is doomed. All it takes is enough self-awareness and reflection to work on it. And honestly, I think that both “narcissists” and “empaths” need to work on themselves because neither one is a healthy way to live.

Mental illness recovery and self-love struggles

I was a mess when I was younger. It’s gradually dawned on me over the years that I needed to get better. I had some traits that definitely fit within the borderline and histrionic personality disorder categories.

As an aside, I’ve written a lot about the demise of my longest friendship, which was ultimately very destructive for me. I had a very unique link with her that I could never quite understand. And I’ve finally put my finger on it: we both had tendencies toward borderline and histrionic personality disorder when we met.

I figured it out and was ashamed of my past behavior but I wanted to get better. I made the changes I could and still work on it, although that has so far been limited by my lack of access to good therapy. I changed a lot and took it upon myself to also help her, which wasn’t my job and wasn’t appreciated. Part of that is that I enjoy helping people, but part of it was also a bit codependent (assuming I believe codependency is real, which I’m not sure I do.)

On the other hand, she doubled down on those attention-seeking and dramatic traits in herself. Defended them. Avoided therapy. Her life got more chaotic, her personality more outlandish, her closest relationships more broken.

I felt like being in frequent contact frustrated me immensely to see how little positive growth she had made. In many ways, she was still looking back to her teen years as the best time of her life. Even though she got married last year, it seemed afterward like she wanted to recapture the freedom of youth rather than settle down.

I’ve read a ton of stuff about these personality disorders over the past several months; I could probably write a book about the subject. I know that few people with these disorders want help or seek it.

I also know that people with these disorders are not bad people and they often feel a great deal of pain about the thought of hurting others. So instead of dealing with it and trying to change, they’re more likely to shove it down deep and pretend it doesn’t exist.

I’ve never been officially diagnosed with this, so maybe they’re just a couple of selfish traits I have (and had to a greater degree when I was younger.) I do know that I have gotten better and I want to continue getting better. But I also feel a lot of shame over how my actions affected people I love and it’s hard to forgive myself for that.

Interestingly, though, I got a lot more attention when I was less aware of what I was doing to others. I was less self-conscious. I was actively a much more selfish person, but I had a lot more people I regularly interacted with, especially online.

I don’t know if that’s just because the internet itself has changed so much since the early days. When my kids were small, blogging was still very new. It wasn’t as hard to get an audience as it is today. Now everything has moved to social media and is a lot more visual.

Ironically, being narcissistic and putting your life on display is way more acceptable now. It’s nearly impossible to get much of a following unless you do so. Only now, what people want is to see selfies and pictures and YouTube vlogs and to hear your voice rambling on a podcast.

Even traditional old-school blog entries are now supposed to be short and interspersed with lots of pictures. It’s way less introvert-friendly now. And I just don’t have the desire to put myself out there that much. I’m not big on attention-seeking.

In part because I am self-conscious and in part because of the damage to my self-esteem from that one friendship, I’m isolating myself. I feel like I don’t know how to be the kind of person people want to be around, especially because I’m still often so depressed.

I don’t know how to get better until I can find a good therapist, which I have no hope of affording any time soon. I know that cognitive behavioral therapy is my best bet. I also have a dialectical behavioral therapy workbook that helps with emotional regulation, but to be honest, that’s the part I had already done a lot of work on.

I’m in this weird space of not being enough of a train wreck myself to be interesting anymore, but not yet healed enough to be wise and ready to heal others.

At the same time, I also wonder about how many of my issues were or are related to my brain illness. Was I mildly personality disordered just because I grew up in an emotionally neglectful home? Was it that I was relatively normal and just way too young when I got married (since my worst behavior was in my teens and the first five years of marriage) and I’ve grown up since then?

Or was it that my brain was already damaged by the MS? Based on when I first felt like I had symptoms, that was 18 years ago. My brain could have been damaged all along.

I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter why I am the way I am or even if I have a diagnosable personality disorder.

I need to learn how to forgive myself and love myself, first and foremost. I’m not sure how to do that. My husband used religion to heal himself, but it’s not completely connecting for me in the same way. Faith is a component of my healing and sometimes a source of comfort, but I’m not internalizing it as giving me a sense of self-worth.

And while the fact that he is treating me much better than he did before is helpful and appreciated, he can’t fix me. It’s still my job to learn how to fix myself.

Considering the fact that he is both my best friend and the caregiver for me in my illness, that makes us a bit enmeshed. But I don’t want to be dependent on him in an unhealthy way and sometimes fear that I am a bit already. I want to be healthy and independent and self-actualized, to whatever degree my illness will let me. Finding that particular balance is tough.

I have to learn how to get better. I know what needs to be done, and I’ve already made a lot of progress. But I’m not sure how much more of this can be a do-it-yourself effort. I think I need some help.

The truth about the terms “toxic” and “bullying”

I’ve noticed that along with the increased tendency to call things narcissistic, gaslighting, and bipolar when they’re actually not, many people are overusing and misusing the terms “toxic” and “bullying.”

Part of it is that our culture now is just mean. People say rude things to each other all the time (including our president, who is both reflective of this standard and further justifies it.) The things people say to each other are so far beyond what was acceptable when I was a kid that I am often just stunned by it. If you object, people tell you that you’re too sensitive and need to lighten up.

That said, though, I see a lot of people throwing around the words “toxic” and “bullying” in situations where they really don’t apply. I especially see this in the online support groups for victims of narcissists and in memes about mental health.

Many people behave in ways that are sometimes toxic. Sadly, this sometimes includes me. But I think a lot of people don’t mean to do it; again, myself included. I don’t ever mean to hurt anybody. People who are suffering or struggling to get better sometimes say or do thoughtless things that can hurt others despite their intentions.

Sometimes two people have a tendency toward toxic interactions with each other but are normal with everybody else. It doesn’t mean either person is toxic in themselves, just that they have an unhealthy pattern that probably means they should limit their interactions.

But that’s different from being a toxic person overall. Occasional toxic behaviors don’t necessarily mean a person as a whole is toxic. I don’t know if you can tell yet from previous entries, but I really don’t like the idea of characterizing an entire person based on their worst traits (especially if they’re aware of them and are trying to get better.)

Similarly, “bullying” gets thrown around a lot. And bullying is definitely a very major problem that I believe is partly responsible for the increase in suicides, so I’m in no way trivializing how serious and devastating bullying can be.

But it weakens the meaning of true bullying when you say it refers to someone making fun of the way you look (which is just a rude one-time behavior) or someone telling you they have a problem with something you’re doing.

Bullying is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse — even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.” (That definition comes from this website, FYI.) It also says that the key aspect of bullying is the ongoing nature of the behavior, which leaves the victims feeling powerless and fearful.

Based on that definition, a one-time rude comment can’t be bullying. A disagreement with someone, even if it’s a recurring disagreement, probably isn’t bullying, either.

Having been bullied and having been in relationships with people that had unhealthy communication, you know the difference when you see it. In my experience, being bullied almost always involves fear of that person and it’s relentless. Poor communication or unhealthy relationship dynamics can certainly make you miserable and are usually a sign that you need to do something differently (if not outright get out of the situation), but it’s not bullying.

It’s not bullying any time someone says or does something that makes you feel kind of bad about yourself.

Often it’s a sign that you need to re-evaluate your relationship if it’s happening regularly. But sometimes it’s also a sign that you need to work on improving your self-esteem, learn how to take things less personally, and develop more confidence in yourself.

I say this because, in many ways, I have had to develop a lot of the same skills. I used to be really thin-skinned and take everything super personally. A rude comment from a stranger would send me into a tailspin for hours. I would second-guess myself and replay interactions over and over in my head, unable to let them go.

I still struggle with this, but less often than I used to. It’s something I’m in the process of changing; you can’t just snap your fingers and stop having a problem as soon as you acknowledge it. You have to retrain your thoughts and your initial reactions, and that takes time and practice. And I have experienced myself that when you work on it, it gets better.

But ultimately we’re buying into the larger social problem of people being unable to communicate with each other and assuming others are our enemies. We damage people when we pigeonhole them so much based on certain behaviors, rather than looking at the overall person.

Sometimes people behave badly because they’re assholes. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always assholes or that you deserve it or that you have to label them with some kind of psychological issue. It’s often just a snapshot of who the person is in that moment, that interaction. Maybe the best thing to do is just to try to forget it and move on…maybe permanently, if it’s someone you see frequently and they do it on a regular basis.

I think we’d all do better to give each other more grace, including ourselves, and stop looking for more offense than is intended.

The dialogue around mental health

I have determined after a great deal of research that most of the information online about how to deal with mental illness and especially personality disorders is incomplete or downright inaccurate.

I read a lot about how antidepressants and therapy are the only way anyone can get better with mental health issues. And to be clear, these methods help a lot of people and I’m not knocking them or trying to say there’s a better way. We all do what we have to do and mental illness is nasty enough to live with as it is.

But at the same time, they don’t help everybody. It can be hard to figure out what will help. A lot of the stuff online is extremely discouraging, especially with regard to personality disorders. That’s even truer when it comes to the famously difficult “cluster B” personality disorders: narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, antisocial. Most of what you read about any of these would make you think that if you get diagnosed with one, you might as well give up because you’re untreatable (and by the way, you’re also ruining everyone else’s lives.) That’s what the things online say about them, but I am not sure it’s accurate.

This all started because I had a friendship with someone who was almost definitely somewhere on that spectrum. She convinced me that she was fine and didn’t need to change anything, and I was the one with the dysfunction, not her. So I set out to learn everything I could and to try to see if I fit the definition. (I didn’t meet the diagnostic criteria for any of them, but did have a couple traits on the list which I trace back to depression and emotional immaturity, both of which I’m trying to manage. I think I might have fit more of them when I was younger.)

Even though I think she may have those issues (only a professional could know for sure), I think she could get better if she put in the effort rather than denying the problem. In fact, I know this is a bold statement, but I believe a lot of people with the “Cluster B” personality disorders could get better. It comes down to having the courage to face your issues and then work on them, which is the real obstacle. But maybe if we gave people hope that improvement was possible, they might actually try.

Are there people who are truly narcissistic, who ruin their closest relationships? Yes, of course. Are there people who have been on the receiving end of this behavior and been scarred by it, even left with PTSD over it? Absolutely. The people on the extremes can be dangerous.

I do know someone who I believe to be a full-fledged narcissist (not the same person I mentioned above) who is getting worse with age, not better. It’s very difficult to have a relationship with her because it’s so one-sided. She doesn’t seem to be aware of her behavior or how she affects people. But I believe that if she was aware of them, she could get better – even if the process was slow and incremental. People like her might never be “normal” but I think they could have healthier relationships with more give-and-take if they worked on it.

But at the same time, I think we’re overusing terms like narcissistic and gaslighting and bipolar and borderline.

What we really have is a growing number of people who aren’t able to cope with the world, who don’t know how to have healthy social relationships, who are encouraged by social media to live their lives in a very shallow way. The outcomes of all of these behaviors are now very normalized in society, but many of them may look like personality disorders at first glance. But that doesn’t mean that they’re hopeless. It doesn’t mean they won’t ever get better if they really try.

I see a lot of people online who have been diagnosed with one of these infamous Cluster B personality disorders (especially at Quora) and many of them do feel bad and want to change. I don’t think the mental health community and the unqualified members of the public are helping by issuing these blanket statements that people are untreatable and will never get better.

Can you imagine hearing that? Given that one of the hallmarks of most personality disorders is poor emotional regulation (and many have suicidal impulses as well), I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to get that diagnosis and still have the courage to hold yourself together.

Maybe I’m naive or maybe I’m a Pollyanna (I probably am) but I think all people deserve better than to be told they’re hopeless. I think there’s hope for nearly everyone to get better. Even if people are difficult, they didn’t make themselves that way.

That’s not to say it’s always a good thing to be in a relationship with someone who is broken in this type of way. It can break you in the process, too, so you should definitely get away if you recognize you’re being hurt. Just because they have things to work through, doesn’t mean you have to be along for the ride.

But I think we should change how we talk about people with personality disorders and mental health issues. The most important factor, from what I’ve seen, is the person’s desire to change. If they have that, there’s hope they can get better.

Mental health is only getting worse around the world for so many reasons. And yeah, sometimes other people’s illnesses have collateral damage. But they’re still human underneath it all. So maybe we should just have more compassion for those who are struggling to overcome issues. Worldwide mental health is likely to continue to get worse from everything I’ve read.

So we need to change the dialogue. Be hopeful and encouraging to those who are trying to heal. Sometimes for our own sakes, we might have to lend that support from a safe distance. But I think we need to do a lot less telling people they have unfixable illnesses. There’s always hope that even the blindest, most destructive narcissist will come to realize what they’re doing and work on getting better. What good does it do to tell them improvement is impossible?

Sometimes it’s not all my fault

You know what? I didn’t just grow apart from my former friend. I was trying to put a nice spin on it and to behave with more class than she did. I always look at my own role in conflicts and at what I could have done differently. But I have to stop accepting all the blame so readily, too.

I hoped it would be different this time. But seeing her in person after 16 years made me realize that there were many reasons we weren’t on speaking terms when I left this area 16 years ago either.

I knew better than to trust her based on a lot of past history. I let my guard down again around someone who repeatedly proved herself to be unsafe and unhealthy for me. She knew my vulnerabilities and of course, she used them all against me.

I reread all the messages we exchanged before and during the blowup and it’s pretty clear that while I mentioned a few things I was upset about, I did so calmly, owned them as my own issues to deal with and I did not attack her. The worst thing I called her was snobby. (And since her reaction when she borrowed my diamond earrings for her recent wedding was “oh they’re so tiny!” I think the snob classification definitely still fits.)

We’ve had a long and contentious history and I’ve never had that kind of relationship with anyone else before. Anyone in my life who ever met her, from my husband to my brother-in-law, disliked her from the first meeting. In fact, my brother-in-law just mentioned her a couple years ago, like “whatever happened to…” because her rude and obnoxious attack on him for eating meat at my oldest child’s birthday party made such a memorably negative impression.

Keep in mind that neither my mom nor the maid of honor from my wedding automatically take my side when I talk about conflicts with others. And over the years, when I would I talk to them about the latest drama with this friend, they would always encourage me to stay away from her and not go back. They would ask me why I put up with someone so destructive in my life. And I honestly don’t know why I did for so long.

But ever since I moved back here, things seemed to get rapidly worse. There’s no point to rehashing any of the finer points because my goal is not to draw anyone else into the drama. I just realized that seeing her in person was actually much worse and more unpleasant than the years of communicating strictly by email.

In our last argument, by text, we agreed to take a break from the friendship. Naively, I thought it was over. I didn’t send her any more messages.

The next day, she unleashed a torrent of abuse on me, swearing at me and attacking every aspect of my character. I ignored all the messages and tried to take the high road. I didn’t even read most of the messages she sent at that time. I just skimmed and saw things like her calling me “high and mighty bitch” and that I was a “hateful and judgy Christian”, so I figured I got the gist. I sent a couple brief replies saying basically “yeah, I think this is over and I hope you get help” and she still kept sending more abusive messages.

I wrote a blog post after that, saying I was trying to be calm and to move on in a more positive direction and that we just grew apart. In response to my effort to take the high road, she sent yet another message saying I was “so fake” and “in denial” for not putting all my problems out there and lobbed a few more personal insults at me. I didn’t respond to it at all.

Trying to put a more positive spin on a difficult situation is a healthy thing, not a form of denial or fakery. Saying you grew apart from someone is a lot more mature than putting them on blast on social media.

Yet she managed to convince her acquaintances that I was the one who attacked her in all this. She’s still playing the victim role.

It’s so hard to be on the receiving end of this, to know that I can’t clear my name. But she is completely unable to see reality because she is so intent on seeing herself as the victim.

To be clear, I’m not saying that “seeing reality” means that I’m the victim either. We both said some things that weren’t helpful or kind. I think for either of us to paint ourselves as the victim is both ridiculous and inaccurate. Even if one person is attacking the other, it still takes two people to fight.

I’m not going into detail trashing her to my friends the way she did to me. Nobody’s reading this anyway so I’m just trying to process some of the high-level points.

Trying to turn people against the person you’re mad at when they don’t even know them, just to make yourself feel more justified, is manipulative and kinda sad. Especially because it’s seeking sympathy for what is essentially a lie.

I’m still trying to take the high road and saying we just shouldn’t be friends anymore. That the friendship was realistically over many years ago. I’ll even say that I have my own issues to work on, just as she does.

But I am not accepting 100 percent of the blame anymore. That’s not honest or fair and I finally at least have enough self-respect to walk away from her. She is essentially a high school mean girl who never outgrew it.

I’m also dealing with the fact that my MS has turned progressive and I’m not getting better, and the last thing I need in my life is that kind of drama. It takes real effort to stay positive with this illness, and I can’t risk being around someone who consistently makes me feel worse. I can’t be friends with someone who likes to talk about our illnesses all the time because that makes it harder to stay well.

My other friendships are calm. We don’t spend all our time discussing every problem we face. And I need that calmness so I can try to stay healthy.

But make no mistake: it was completely my fault that I went back for more. Some people don’t change and I had every reason to know better. Some people create too much drama and it’s not only okay but good to walk away. Sometimes the past just needs to stay in the past.