The idea that I could dismiss someone was new to me, a foreign concept.
I sat in my therapist’s office, drying my eyes, as she gave me permission to dismiss certain people from my life.
I went home and ended a lifelong relationship with the main offender. It was difficult at first, but I soon noticed how bright my life was without that storm cloud over it, without the possibility of this person diving into my day at any moment and spreading negativity.
Suddenly, “You are dismissed,” became my silent war cry. While avoiding certain acquaintances was often convenient and temporarily preserved my sanity, after becoming a mom, it became absolutely necessary to completely remove certain people from my life.
I was raised to forgive, to mend friendships, to try to understand others’ points of view, to empathize. None of that has changed.
I’ve simply learned to control when and how I do that.
I may not dismiss someone forever, but I certainly won’t spend more time with them and reward their negative behavior in my life right now, because:
- I don’t have time.
For drama, for hatred, for mean words. To debate who is right or wrong about trivial things.
- I won’t allow you to judge me or my parenting.
Because I’m hard enough on myself. Because you’re not being constructive. And, for every way in which I lack, I make up for it with a love for my family that could move mountains.
- We lead very different lives.
As in, you dedicate much of your time and energy to spreading hurt and anger, and I refuse to be a target.
- I can’t help you.
Your problems and issues are too big for me to manage. I can listen, but I can’t fix.
- You are not kind.
You have said hurtful things. Not out of anger, not out of love, not to inform or help, but only to be hurtful or criticize.
- You are not adding any value to my life.
Being a parent and spouse is hard. If you can’t encourage me, laugh with me, chat with me, tell me, “Your home looks beautiful, and your wrinkles seem to be fading,” help me entertain a 3-year-old, OR just sit with me, even once every 2 years when our schedules line up (because I’m totally okay with that!), why are we friends?
- You don’t agree with how I live my life.
We are a non-judgmental, liberal, Christian family. We love and accept people of ALL races, cultures, spiritual/non-spiritual views, sexual orientation/identity, etc. If you can’t get along with us, that’s most likely your problem. If you want to have a lengthy discussion about the origin of the universe, see Number 1. I’m sorry, but at this time in my life, this qualifies as a “trivial thing.”
- We have different political views.
I’m fine with that, but you’re not. You want to debate every law put into practice for the last 10 years. See Numbers 1 and 5.
- The things that are important to you aren’t important to me.
You seem really upset about things that, quite frankly, don’t bother me, like that I dyed my hair a new color or that I gave my child milk before bed. See Number 2.
- I’m a parent now.
I have to make (quick) decisions about what is best for my family. If you are causing emotional stress to me or my loved ones, I can choose to apply the phrase, “You are dismissed” for however long I need that to be – even forever, OR until I have more time, until we can talk more, until I can express my feelings better, until you choose to be kind to me, etc.
And this is how I clearly dismiss someone in drastic and not-so-drastic situations:
- “I don’t want to have contact with you anymore.”
- “I need to limit my time with you because you’re not being… kind, or helpful, or understanding, etc.”
- “We’re not ever going to agree on this issue, and that’s okay with me. Can we decide not to discuss it? No? Then, maybe we shouldn’t be friends.”
- “I’m walking away now.”
- “I’m choosing to focus on being happy.”
Some days, I may not answer the door or my phone. I may put distance between you and my family for however long I need that to be, and I’ll make the message clear:
You’re not allowed to cause our family pain. I won’t let you.
This is how I respectfully and clearly dismiss someone from my life.
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