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The Remedy For Broken Promises:

March 22, 2013

Don’t Make Them In The First Place!

The stress I am experiencing today and this feeling of isolation has put me in touch with a memory that I wish to share with you – the reason I am sharing this is two-fold:

a) it may assist you in some way to understand just why people (friends,family etc.) simply cannot be there for you sometimes and:

b) my experience may help prevent you from letting your friends/family down – by not making promises you can’t keep:

Some years ago, a close friend of mine had just split from her boyfriend. She called me in distress: “We’ve split up! Promise me you’ll be there for me, promise me you’ll help me through this”. She pleaded. I can still hear the desperation in her voice, having been triggered by her abandonment issues.

You are going to think me a right #enterafourletterwordofyourchoicehere# when you hear what my response was:

“I can’t promise that Heidi”.


Heidi then again begged in desperation for me to be there for her, even including the word ‘always’.

“Honey it isn’t possible for anyone to be there for you all of the time. I could be sick, on holiday or mum could take a turn. What I can do is do my best. That’s all”. I attempted to soften the blow but from that moment – the friendship was strained and eventually fell by the wayside. At the time, mum was dying from lung cancer and although the deterioration was slow and predictable (making life easier) I saw everything so very clearly that I was 100% confident in my actions – sad as it was to see Heidi’s response, there was nothing more I could do and this freed up my energy to dedicate it to what held priority in my life at the time. More about priority later, but for now, here is the flip side of the above:

Today I went for my first Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session as a Patient. During the session, the Therapist asked about my support network (as is usual when starting therapy) and whilst I was enthused and relieved to count my ‘supports’ (friends) on TWO hands 🙂 – I was also aware of this INCREDIBLE and it was so palpable so I will say it again: INCREDIBLE sinking feeling in my gut.

“Give me a moment” I said to the Therapist. I then internally asked what this feeling was about.

‘Broken Promises’ the ‘voice’ said within me.

The CBT session continued and I felt reasonably calmer for it.

On the bus on the way home I became lost in the memory of a Lunch date I had with a very close friend some weeks ago, when my world had just begun to cave in:

“You’ve got me and you’ve got Gary: that’s a given”. Said my friend across the table in a quaint coffee shop. I remember my immediate internal voice said: ‘She can’t promise that’. But because of my desperation – I chose to believe it.

Do you know where I am going with this? I am pretty sure you do…

She’s gone. She’s not there – the ‘given’ turned into a ‘taketh away’.

This is not me speaking – this is my abandoned child – my ego – maybe even my Id – but the point is the same:

When I was in therapy and on the bus on the way home, I realised that this particular friend (and a couple of others whom have temporarily faded to grey) simply doesn’t have the capacity to help me – at the moment – in actual fact: The advice that has been given to me recently by loving friends – has been VERY, very BAD advice. No offence intended – but let’s be honest. SO……

Three Morals:

  • Your friends and family do the VERY BEST they can within the capacity they have at the time
  • It is NOT just the abandonment that hurts – it’s the ‘Broken Promises’
  • There is a SOLUTION to that:


Don’t make promises you cannot keep:


– acknowledge your humanness and give yourself a break.

We lean when we need to, we prop each other up when we can:

And for the rest of the time – there’s therapy, self help and strangers.



One final thing but a REALLY important one – EVERYTHING happens for a reason OR if you prefer – YOU CAN LOOK FOR THE REASON IN EVERYTHING THUS TO GIVE IT MEANING. So….

Even the BAD advice has taught me that, actually – I DO know what I am doing and my intuition is STILL HERE and WORKING. When the people in our lives disappear, whether it be temporary or for long periods – IT MAKES US STRONGER. Yep – it does, BECAUSE WE HAVE NO CHOICE but to carry on regardless.

OK – I’m done for today… you can breathe now 🙂

Hanging on by a thread…..

BUT STILL – BLOODY-WELL HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matt xx

(Names have been changed, apart from mine, obviously).


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