A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about releasing those who introduce negative influences into their lives. I was planning a follow-up post on tips to try if someone you released attempts to reinsert themselves in your life when the Universe decided to let me beta test my tips.
Jon, one of the people I wrote about in the original blog post, spent some time with one of my best friends. Afterwards, Jon decided to reach out to me. In his text message, he said that he wanted to “extend the olive branch.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.
Step 1 – Ground yourself
I wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, I was certain that I’d be fine with completely forgetting Jon existed. On the other hand, I feel like everyone deserves a second chance. I needed to make this decision with a clear mind.
I opted to use the Feri Tradition’s soul alignment practice, but any practice that connects you with your higher self will work. After completing the ritual, I felt more confident in making a decision that was for everyone’s highest good.
The first word that came to mind was “regret.” What decision can I make that would avoid the most chance of regret for me? By meeting with Jon, I would never experience the uncertainty of what-if. As an added bonus, I would be showing my friend that I could be cordial with Jon, even if I didn’t want to rekindle the friendship.
Step 2 – Meet on your terms
At this point, the boundaries you set are being questioned by someone else. You are meeting with them at their request. This means that you have earned the right of home court advantage. Not only will creating the terms of the meeting make you feel empowered, but it will allow you to create a comfortable atmosphere for the conversation.
When I told Jon I would meet him, I explained that I have plans on Thursday at six, but could meet him before I met up with friends. He suggested that he come along with me at six. This presented me with the opportunity to exercise my new favorite magickal word. I simply said “No.” I told him that I could meet him at five or that I would let him know when I was available again. Reluctantly, Jon agreed to my terms.
Step 3 – Listen with discernment, not judgment
Jon and I met a bar and made small talk for a few minutes. When we stepped outside to smoke, he offered me his side of the story.
Jon explained that he had not been in contact with me because I treated him poorly. He said that he did not feel that I valued him as a friend. He concluded by saying that his evening with our mutual friend made him want to reach out to me to see if we could make amends.
I listened without interruption. Instead of making a mental list of responses, I just let him talk and tried to understand his point of view. I let any hints of inner defensiveness roll right off my back. When he was done, I took a deep breath before I moved to the next step
4 – Politely, but clearly and honestly advocate for yourself
In her video on setting healthy boundaries, Kelly Ann Maddox says that you have to be an ally for yourself. I agree. No one else can fight your battles or face your troubles better than you can. So, after my cleansing breath, I relayed my feelings to Jon.
“I see things differently” I started. “We’ve known each other for a decade, but in the few months, before we stopped talking, I saw a different side of you. When you needed friends, I included you in my friend group. Instead of being grateful, I feel like you systematically tried to separate me from my friends. When I needed my friends, you did things to actively exclude me. When I brought these feelings up, you told me that you had no intention to change your behavior. At that time, you’re right; I stopped valuing your friendship because you no longer valued mine. In fact, I feel like you are only trying to fix things because someone else asked you to.”
Jon was visibly hurt by this last sentence. I apologized for the directness of my statement, but not for its content. We sat in silence for a few moments before Jon finally spoke.
“I understand where you’re coming from and I want to fix things. I’ve been very lonely, and I miss my friends, including you. You don’t owe me anything, but I’d like the opportunity to prove that I can be a better friend.”
The sincerity of his words unexpectedly struck me. Jon is very charismatic, but since I’ve known him for so long, I can usually detect his bullshit from a mile away. This was different; my gut told me that I could trust what he was saying.
Step 5 – Reinforce boundaries, even if they’ve changed
Once you have listened and in turn and said your piece, it comes time to lay out your boundaries. In some instances, it is just restating the boundaries you have already stated. In others, such as in my case, you may set new boundaries. It’s important that your boundaries are clear and precise.
“Jon, it’s important for you to know that I am skeptical of everything you’ve said. I’m also a bit hopeful. Things aren’t going to change overnight, but I’m not adverse to spending some time with you. However, it will be on my terms. If a friend of ours invites us both out to something, I hope you’ll understand if I decline the invitation sometimes. I also hope you won’t hold it against my friends if they keep you at a distance for a while. They are only doing that to protect me.”
I took another breath and continued. “It’s also important for you to understand that I’m going to be ultra-sensitive to anything I consider as a slight from you. If, no when, it happens, remind me that I mentioned this and I promise I’ll try to judge your perspective without bias. And, if I do anything that you feel harmed by, bring it my attention and we’ll discuss that too.”
Jon nodded, and I ended the conversation by saying “I promise that if I decide to remove myself from the friendship, I will do so in a way that allows us to coexist among our friends. I hope you do the same.”
Jon agreed, and we shook hands. We reverted to catching up on the past year of each other’s lives and even joined my friends afterward. Overall, it was a good night. It’s still unclear whether we’ll continue on this path or if we’ll decide that we’re no longer suited to be friends, but only time will tell.