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  • Laura

Broken Relationships

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

I can recall the first real fight I had with my childhood best friend – not what it was over, but the horrible pit-of-your-stomach feeling that went along with the question, “Are we going to survive this?”

Any number of relationships later, I still get that pit-in-my-stomach feeling when a relationship is going south. I have learned, however, that while some relationships are more enduring, most are more time-limited. I have learned that friendships tend to be tied in duration to what you have in common (e.g., the friends you have from high school don’t, in large part, survive high school graduation).

They say you are lucky to have a small handful of lifelong friends. I consider myself one hugely lucky person, as I have many wonderful friends – including a handful of very close friends – from all walks of my life. It was not always so easy for me, however. Having a mental illness and making/keeping friends do not mix well.

I used to be at the mercy of my symptoms and was unmedicated until my last year in law school. This was not exactly a recipe for “tending and befriending” my friendships. It wasn’t that I didn’t value my friends; I didn’t value myself enough. I didn’t seek help until help was thrust upon me by my wonderful, caring law school friends.

I look back with great sadness at the fact I haven’t remained close with most of the amazing people I went to college and law school with. I have tried to repair most of those relationships, sometimes more successfully, oftentimes less. I so wish I could rewind time and precisely excise my negative symptom-related behaviors that were responsible for the demise of said relationships to one degree or another.

Note: I am not blaming my illness; that said, it didn’t exactly help me to nurture relationships that were really important to me, and it played a role in the demise of my two marriages. You see, mental illness – in this case, involving beating off the Beast that is suicidality – took a toll on my relationships.

I cannot emphasize enough what happens when the Beast takes the reins. Even if you manage to salvage your very existence, the damage it wreaks on your life is often permanent. It affects your friendships, your romantic relationships, your academic or work success – it hits everywhere and decidedly below the belt.

In many cases, the damage to friendships and other relationships wrought by the Beast is permanent. It’s next to impossible to be a good friend when all you can think of and process is how and when to commit suicide. Do the world a gigantic favor and talk to someone – a friend, a family member, a therapist, a clergyperson. Just TALK because all you are doing is feeding the Beast with your silence, and in the meantime, you are risking alienating the very people whose help you desperately need to live and thrive.

The Beast can make us look very self-centered. You see, all the energy you must put in just to keep living takes away from the energy you need to put into your relationships. And what happens? Well, your relationships suffer. There are a host of reasons why relationships wither and sometimes die. Do yourself a favor and don’t let the all-consuming Beast be the reason you lose out on your relationships. Don’t be like me, someone who is still trying to salvage relationships the Beast all but destroyed. Take what I’ve learned and use it to beat back the Beast. You’ve got this.

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