Dear Lucy: I have a friend who has been the closest person to me for some 20 years. We became friends in high school. I love her dearly but I think it's time for us to part ways. I have watched her manipulate me, her husband, her family and anyone else to have her way. She is so good at out-talking others and will do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes to manipulate people and circumstances her way. I have seen her pretend to like someone that she tells me she cannot stand and I have given in to her often just to keep from going through her drama. Each time I get ready to drop our friendship, she seems to sense it and does something nice that makes me change my mind for a while. I feel bad about myself and my inability to end this friendship. What's going on?
– Signed: GP
Dear GP: This is a great question for Independence Day. You sound like a person in bondage begging to be free!
I once worked for a lady who taught me that, "freedom is greatest where the boundaries are clear." It sounds to me like neither of you have clear boundaries nor have an understanding about where to draw the line.
When we were children, my mother made it clear that on Saturdays our work was to help clean the house. She did not care how long we slept in and we knew that we could go and hang out downtown on Saturdays with the other kids. But...nothing was happening until that house was clean! That's freedom with boundaries.
We were free to enjoy our Saturdays with friends, to sleep late and anything else our hearts desired, but not until we met the terms of the arrangement. There was a lot of power in this arrangement. My mother got what she wanted and so did we.
We were taught that the cost of free will is responsibility. After all, free will is all about freedom. It is not the freedom to do anything we want to do. It is the freedom to choose wisely, to honor the consequences of our choosing, take responsibility for delayed gratification and to respect others' rights to be treated as we would like to be treated.
So, what does this have to do with you and your friend?
You say that she "makes you change your mind." Nobody makes us do anything. We have free will and get to choose our own behavior. Perhaps it's time you set one of the most important personal boundaries. That is the decision to own your own power.
It may be time to own the power to be who you really are, to live your own truth and own the freedom to be yourself. This way, it is not an either-or choice. She gets to be who and what she is and you get to be who you are without having to compare yourself with her or dislike her to get there.
When we say that someone else "makes" us sad, angry, happy, bored, depressed or whatever, we are giving that other person the power and freedom to define our borders. It is like saying your friend has the power to decide your feelings and behaviors for you. You have given away your power and freedom to choose. This is about you, not her.
Free will and freedom is the power to choose. It makes more sense to take full responsibility for yourself and say "I choose to get upset when she manipulates me and others." Instead of "she makes me mad when she does this or that." How about, "I allowed myself to be manipulated," instead of, "she manipulated me?"
Here is the bigger question. What is keeping you from choosing the option that will bring you joy? Are you afraid of what someone will think of you, what she will think of you if you choose a new way of being with her? Then, you have given away your power to choose to her. Are you allowing the real you to come forth?
No one gives us freedom. It's ours to claim. Are you choosing to be the real person that you want to be?
Have you grown attached to this person, this roller coaster feeling? You have three options: 1. Change the situation, re-arrange it. 2. Change the way you see the situation. 3. Leave the situation. If you have given away your power to be with someone you no longer enjoy, you have given away your happiness to them. You don't have to do that. Take back your power, own it!
Happy Independence Day.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)