I think I was an old Montauk sea hag in a previous life. Not a super ugly mean one with moles on her face, but a quiet, hard to know, lonely soulful kind who served beer at The Dock until her death while waiting patiently for her long lost fisherman to come home.
My husband calls me his mermaid, so maybe there’s some truth to that.
All I know is when I hit the Napeague Stretch (the narrow remote highway which connects the rest of Long Island to Montauk), I feel like I’m at the end of the world and I’ve always belonged there. Like I can breathe for the first time. And when I go to The Dock, a restaurant run by the same family for over 30 years, where the taxidermy prevalent and off-color jokes not for the weary, it fits like an old glove.
There are some places you just connect with deeply from the moment you arrive, and Montauk is that for me. I can neither explain nor understand it, so I just accept it with gratitude. It is a very special place.
Montauk is a fishing town with no streetlight, only one or two restaurants that stay open year round, and a community that supports each other with unconditional pride and love. I feel blessed to call it my home part of the year.
My friends were kind enough to invite me to stay with them this past weekend and I felt rejuvenated and reconnected. The ocean roared, the pond (still half-covered with ice) shined, and the blue sky bright against the fresh snow (yes it snowed!). The old town starting to re-awaken after a long winter made me want to fill my lungs with it over and over again to capture and take it home with me. I was overjoyed to break bread with my friends, catch up over their generous dinner tables and take in the sunset at our favorite old leaky bar on the cliff.
But what happens when that place that you love so entirely for decades starts to feel not so comfy anymore? Don't get me wrong, I heart-achingly love it and always will. But it’s changing – the old surf hotel has been taken over by a big business mogul whose now fighting with the local community and government over his plans. Everything is for sale, and August, which used to be a wonderful time to escape the NYC heat, is so overrun with disrespectful summer shareholders who throw their garbage everywhere and hire DJs to out do each other, makes us question if Montauk can preserve its core spirit. The topic dominates conversation and though I plan to never leave, the July/August price gauging by outsiders, overcrowded restaurants and rowdy streets chase me away during the height of the season. If you can believe it, NYC is calmer and more pleasant then!
It may outgrow me, but I will never outgrow it! It’s like a relationship that I’m willing to work on forever. That is not true of all relationships though, and over the last week I’ve had conversations with multiple people questioning a long-standing friendship that has become toxic. It’s hard to face, especially when you know someone for many years. But knowing someone for a long time is not a reason to continue the relationship.
So what do you do when you’ve outgrown someone, but the person still wants to maintain the relationship? I’m afraid the answer isn’t easy. Take some examples:
- A young family member lives away from home and her roommate is constantly negative and depressed. It’s brings her down and impacts her daily. Although she’s tried to turn it around, nothing works. In truth, you can’t change someone. It’s a tough lesson to learn at an early age, but she’s confident and smart enough to know that it’s not the right living situation for her, so is looking to find a different roommate for next year. She’s moving on in a strong way.
- After 30+ years of friendship, “Mary” was tired of being treated poorly by “Barbara.” “Barbara” would exclude her from important events, demean her and say hurtful things. The conversation was one-sided and “Mary” finally said “enough!” and stopped responding. “Barbara” is finally getting the message, and is texting looking for answers. Does “Mary” owe her an answer? That’s up to her, but from her perspective, the damage has been done and there’s no going back.
- I met “Kathy” about 10 years ago and she was fun to hang out with. I would often see her at group gatherings and sometimes make plans to get together one-on-one. Over time, it became obvious that unless the conversation was about her, there was no conversation. She offended someone at my house once and so I decided to stop inviting her. I’ve seen her lose friends one by one and am sad about it, as I do think she a good person. However, whenever I see her, I know I’m in for a one-way 30-minute whoa-is-me conversation. Caring people have tried to discuss it with her, but it hasn’t resonated. It makes me feel crummy to avoid her, but I know it is ultimately best for my well-being.
Do any of that sound familiar? The examples could go on: the person who is passive aggressive with you, or doesn’t listen, or only calls when he/she needs something or is alone.
The point is to understand how the relationship fits with who you are today, who you want to be, and determine whether to let it continue to play a significant role in your life. That may sound selfish, but not when you consider how surrounding yourself with a strong supportive circle will make you feel great and help you fulfill your dreams!
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you nix people you don’t see often – I have friends I go months without seeing and we joyfully pick up where we left off as if no time has passed.
What I am suggesting is if your a relationship feels like something you have to endure instead of enjoy, or you dread getting together, it may be time to move on. Be polite about it, and instead fill up your calendar with people who give you joy, energy and fuel your inner sea hag.
I will be one with mine this spring in the dunes of Montauk, and oh how that will be grand!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™
Compassion Corner: You may have heard there was a gas explosion in the East Village of NYC last week that has left dozens of families displaced.. The community has lined the local religious centers with bags of clothes and goods to support their neighbors. What a lovely demonstration of compassion!
Share acts of compassion you exhibit and I will include them here weekly!