For years I've seen the meme floating around social media about not chasing people if you feel ignored or unwanted and, for the most part, I have gone along with that philosophy. I say "for the most part" because I haven't been very committed to it. I'm loyal to a fault. I love friendships that can be traced back a decade or so. However, during these past few turbulent years, people who I had believed would be in my life forever faded into strangers I used to know.
And I've been bad about letting go. Before I left Denver, I texted one of those people and, although I did get a reply, it was basically "good luck." From someone I had considered a sister from another mother, this only confirmed that she didn't want me in her life anymore. Apparently, the two years of abrupt no contact hadn't relayed that message to me because I am rather stubborn.
Did I delete the number? No. I guess a part of me hoped for...what? That she would miss me and call me out of the blue? And, if she did, where is my self-respect to answer the call?
As if that weren't pitiful enough, I recently texted another one of those friends who ghosted to wish her a happy 50th birthday. She replied with "who is this?" (She and I had known each other since elementary school, our kids knew each other, I am the only one she knows with a 303 area code, we had been tight up until a few years ago when my life started unraveling...but now I was a "who is this?" when I simply texted "Happy 50th! I hope the next decade is filled with miracles and joy.")
Man, for being this age and for being as accomplished as I am, I sometimes act like a fool.
So, today I went through my iPhone and deleted all the contacts that weren't business related or who hadn't spoken to me in a year. Delete. Delete. Delete.
Boundaries have always been my weakness. My therapist told me that I allow people way too close too soon--this was twelve years ago! My husband had just died, though, so she cut me some slack for the blurred lines. What's my excuse now?
I don't have one, not really. I like being nice--but sometimes that has gotten me into bad situations. I need to be careful as well as nice, but I can no longer be anyone's pushover or option or punchline to a joke I am not privy to. I deserve better. I have earned the right to say "no more."
I now embrace the idea that people have to earn the right to be close to me. I keep my circle small and inner circle even smaller. I now speak up for myself rather than play small to make others feel big.
Hitting delete on those contacts felt liberating. Their names are no longer cluttering up my phone. If someone calls and I don't answer, let them leave a message and I will decide if I care to contact them back.
But that's the thing you see...I kept their names and numbers and emails and addresses because of that hope that there would be a message one day, a simple "how are you" once would have meant the world to me. Now I don't want or expect such a thing.
I love having friends and I love being nice. I love being with people who let me be myself without judgement. I am confident that by letting go of all that deadwood that I am making room for new friends who will respect me as I am--flawed and fabulous.
But here's the difference between me and that friend who I had texted to wish a happy birthday...I will never reply with "who is this" to a kind message. I will simply say, "thank you for thinking of me" and figure it out later. I guess that speaks volumes, doesn't it?
Keep romancing yourself! It's a love affair of a lifetime!
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, Easton also writes under two pen names--Dakota Skye (erotic paranormal romance thrillers) and Cassidy Springfield (new adult). She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, takes road trips with her dogs whenever the mood strikes, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.