January 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye to a Toxic Friend

Let's face it: Having friends as an mom is difficult. As moms, we're always busy, pulled in 50 directions and having a child screaming as though their head is being ripped from their very neck isn't really conducive to interesting, scintillating conversations. When you have a special-needs child, having friends is even more difficult. So when having a special-needs child reveals that someone you thought to be a good friend truly isn't, it hurts your heart.

Why am I sharing the following story with you? To inspire you to be there for your friends who have special-needs children, even when it isn't easy. We know it's not always easy to be our friend. It makes us appreciate you even more. Just as importantly, I want to encourage you to end your own toxic friendships. Recognize your worth. If you're a fellow special-needs mom and are hanging onto old friendships that no longer bring your life anything good, don't hang on just for nostalgia's sake. Life isn't the same. Sometimes, a chapter in a book has become so yellowed,the words so smeared, the pages so stained and torn that no tape can save it. You can't hang onto that chapter just because you remember when it was fresh and new, when the rest of the story has gone far passed it and it no longer has any positive bearing on the future.



It's truly amazing how having a child with autism brings out the best, or the worst, in those around you. The majority of our friends and family have been understanding, supportive and there when we need them. Then there's the random outlier, such as the friend I had expected to be the most supportive with what I've been going through. I mentioned some of what I was experiencing in a previous post. A friend since our early days as little girls, who has an autistic child herself, I thought I'd have someone to talk to for ideas, support and an a listening ear.

I found the exact opposite. From day one, she claimed I was making up the diagnosis; that my child wasn't autistic, she was defiant; and interrogated me over the testing, symptoms and so much more. Then the "friend" proclaimed that it wasn't fair that I hadn't dealt with autism as long as she had, that M2 shouldn't have been able to get a diagnosis so fast (which must mean the doctor was crap) -- so she couldn't deal with me and refused to listen to anything to do with M2. In truth, she barely talked to me because "she just couldn't deal." I was shocked. When I needed a friend who had been there herself the most, my "friend" abandoned me. I won't lie, it hurt. A lot.


The negativity continued. Hurtful comments and lack of any support were the norm. The "friend" took issue with the fact that I blog about M2's autism. She faulted me for getting M2 an aide, saying she knew others with multiple autistic kids who never got an aide. To her, it didn't seem to matter that every child and each situation is different. The prying questions didn't end either, even after M2's school agreed with the autism diagnosis.

I became uncomfortable with what I was being asked. There are certain things that were private and simply none of her business. Even after a team of school psychologists, teachers, therapists and other staff agreed without a doubt that M2 is autistic, my "friend" wouldn't accept it. Never mind that this "friend" had never even met M2, like the doctors, therapists and other specialists had.

It felt to me that in her mind, no one else could have a special-needs child or any difficulty in their life, except for her. No one had fought as long, had as many issues, went through so much, so their life couldn't possibly be difficult. No other child was as special as or needed help like her child.

When I tried to express my feelings, to tell her how much she was hurting me, I was told to get a thick skin and get over because tons of people were going to talk to me like she had. That she was allowed to say whatever she wanted and I should just get over it. She deemed necessary services M2 receives to be "luxuries" and gave the idea that my life is one of ease while she has to struggle. I was judged harshly and unfairly, while she bleated loudly that no mom should judge another mother.


No one's life is all rainbows and roses. We all have struggles, battles and hard times despite the happy pictures you may see on Facebook. Just because someone is going through something, it doesn't mean that another's problems are insignificant or unimportant. Good friends are there for each other, no matter how hard things are personally. So many people told me I should cut all contact with her. She wasn't bringing anything positive to my life.

Yet, for much longer than I should have, I let the "friendship" drag on, I made excuses for her. Well, her life is difficult right now. She'll come around. Her child has finally gotten a diagnosis, she'll be able to "deal" with me now. I tried to support her through hard times, despite what she'd been putting me through. Time and again, I was proven that my excuses for her were just that -- excuses. They weren't the truth. The truth was a hard pill to swallow and one I was slow in accepting.


Finally, I let my fear of losing a friend I'd known for so long and shared so much with get tied to the back of a pickup, dragged through a pasture of cow manure, get trampled on by a wild stampede and then thrown deep into a muddy, nasty, faraway ditch to rot. I ended a friendship that had been toxic, negative and done absolutely nothing good for my life for a long time.

I faced the truth that this was no longer a friendship or even a person I should have in my life. The friend I was hanging onto wasn't the one that was actually there. That person had changed long ago. Now, she was no where to be found. I finally accepted the truth that this person was never going to be there for me, would never accept me or my child for who we are. Would never acknowledge or accept that my problems and difficulties were valid and in no way diminish her own. I faced that truth that good friends don't do any of the things she'd done to me.


I quietly cut off all modes of communication with the "friend." (I've even gotten a new phone number, though that was by coincidence.) I've said goodbye in my own way, through this post and in my heart. Truth be told, I hope she never reads the post. It isn't for her: It's for me and you. What lies in front of me now is a brand new chapter, gleaming with newness. I may think of the warn-out, destroyed chapter now and then, but I know turning the page was the best choice.

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16 comments:

  1. It is hard to cut off relationships when they need changed. Good for you know what was best for you and your child.

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  2. So sorry to hear about this! It won't be long though and someone new and more relatable will come along! :)

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  3. I can completely relate to this post. I had a "friend" who would always invalidate all of my feelings and frustrations regarding my son with ADHD. He has certain characteristics that make it impossible to keep your eyes off of him and behaviors that are extremely challenging to deal with. Any time I would say that I was sad for him that he couldn't participate in team sports because the over-stimulation would drive him insane, or that I was exhausted from having to have eyes on him every minute of his waking hours because of his extreme impulsive nature, she would respond with, "Well, just be happy he doesn't have to get tubes in his ears and use an inhaler." In no way was I trying to demean her own struggle, but friends support EACH OTHER.

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  4. I agree you should have gotten rid of this person. That is crazy that she thinks she can speak to you any way she wants. Totally unacceptable. Good for you for recognizing the unneeded stress it was adding to your life. I am sorry that happened. Good luck with your new chapter!

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  5. Wow. I am sorry to hear that your "friend" wasn't supportive. She was probably just struggling herself. You are right though, in life as we grow up we often grow apart. The things that matter in our lives change, thus our friends change as well. As a Mother when it comes to having friends we need to pick wisely. We don't have time for the B.S.

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  6. I can relate to this in so many ways. While having friends is vital for our well-being nothing is worse than dealing with someone that brings you down, has constant "me" issues and doesn't fulfill your needs as a friend.

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  7. I can definetly relate. When the twins were in the hospital, we really found out who our friends really were. I'm sorry you had to experience this, but I'm happy you've moved on.

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  8. It is hard when you need to let a friend go.. it has happened to me before. So sorry she wasnt more supportive.. that is very sad exp since she should have been the one to understand what you were going through!

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    1. I had thought she would understand, how wrong I was! I'm totally at peace with my choice, though. :)

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  9. It can be incredibly hard to let a friend you've had for quite a while go. But in the end, if the friendship isn't helping either party, it becomes toxic. You don't need that in your life. You deserve happiness and positivity, not the negativity she seemed to be feeding you.

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    1. I've actually felt so much better in the short time since I cut contact. It was totally the right choice!

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  10. It's always sad when a friend changes for the worst and you have to cut them out. I wonder what her deal is, though.

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    1. It is. I honestly don't understand it, but have had to move on.

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  11. Wow, I'm so glad you let go of that friend! I can't believe you treated you like that, when you were vulnerable and really needed her. Good for you for moving on! You deserve so much better and I hope you find more support from REAL friends :) Thanks for sharing at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

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    1. I really am so much less stressed without her around! Thank you for hosting the blog hop!! <3

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. As a busy mom, I'm not always able to respond to each one, though I read and appreciate them all.