By Jada Yarbough (who turns 18 August 20)
Should I let go of someone I love? Have you ever had to ask yourself that question? I did recently and the answer was hard to take but the positive impact on my life has led me to appreciate the importance of asking the question.
It is a question I should ask myself whether it is a friend who takes advantage, a family member who constantly belittles me, or a partner who does not value me. At the end of the day all my relationships have an impact on my spirit – and as former football star, Hans Hansen said, “people inspire you or they drain you, choose wisely.”
What Hans did not explain was how hard it would be to make the choice to end a friendship with a person I loved very much. I know I am not perfect yet studying positive psychology has really taught me many valuable life lessons. I knew my friend was pessimistic and bitter. I knew negativity, pessimism and bitterness was not good for either of us. I feel I made an effort to bring light to the friendship. I knew I cared deeply for this person. I also know that, for now at least, my friend was unable to make any real change for the better.
Instead of our friendship bringing us both joy, I was left with a deflated spirit. Only I am responsible for how I allow others to affect my spirit. I needed to make a change.
In making the decision to end the friendship, I learned WHY it is so hard to make such a difficult choice. I had to deal with the feelings of losing hope that I could make a difference. I had to give up hope that, for now, my friend could be different. I had to accept that my memories of why we became friends were now all in the past. I had to deal with moving on to college and leaving not only my friend behind, but our shared lives. Ending the relationship was very painful but I also experienced that staying in a poisonous situation actually hurt far more.
I am now free of being exposed to bitter feelings. I learned that when I surrounded myself with more positive friends, I in turn became more positive. I could move forward more easily.
It seems that just as pulling the weeds from a summer garden is part of proper care for a garden, eliminating toxic people from one’s life is necessary for one’s own life garden to grow. I look forward to my fall harvest.
Message from Andrea: Jada, you are wise beyond your years! I shared your post with a number a people since you submitted. One woman friend — in her 40’s — had just asked my help in ending an intrusive relationship with a friend who had helped with her wedding. It seems you have taught yourself a very valuable lesson at a very young age! Happy Birthday! You are a gift to us all. With care, Andrea