I decided I could keep this person in my life but I put serious boundaries in place. I kept it light and relatively neutral in their presence, and to my great surprise over time the relationship was able to grow and become fun again. I accepted it for what it was, instead of brooding over what it could never be. I had recently given myself some pats on the back for navigating the relationship so well, for not creating a cut off and abandoning it completely.
This should have been a sign- but I was too busy congratulating myself and I got comfortable. I allowed myself to get sucked into a conversation with this person that felt warm, engaging, and honest. And as quick as it came on a shift occurred and all the defenses came back up with renewed vigor and might. Dammit. I know better. What was I thinking? I had to remind myself "This person is not safe for you Molly". I was upset about the situation, but mostly upset with myself for forgetting what I know to be true about this relationship.
I thought back to this very Maya Angelou quote. This is a person and a relationship that has to have boundaries in my life in order to stay in it, I learned that a long time ago. Learned it the hard way. Banged my head against a brick wall for years learning it- you get the idea. That warmth and glow I was experiencing lately was the results of a relationship with boundaries doing well. Because after all, this is a good person, someone I choose to still keep in my life- it should be good. But it can only be good with those boundaries. Even when things look like they've made a turn and you might be out of the woods; it's really important to remember what you know to be true. Unless there is a big honest discussion and you've seen consistent and measurable change, by and large people still are who they are. Enjoy them as much as you can but never abandon the lesson's you've learned.