Honesty, am I right? I’m doing it here now, did I mention? Even if it’s scary or someone misreads it or thinks it’s a thinly disguised dig at them (If you think this post is about you, it probably is).
So today, let’s talk about losing or specifically breaking up with, friends. I’ve been lucky (maybe) in that I’ve only really suffered one crushing friendship heartbreak. It is akin to having your heart ripped out of your chest, or it was for me so let me have that dramatic statement.
Even though it was me who pumped the breaks on our toxic 15+ year friendship (and I’ve never regretted it), I still think about her almost daily with a sorrow that has never been matched. I ache with sadness that we didn’t make it but we never could have, the end was inevitable.
Now I have a number of GREAT friends but I haven’t seriously labelled any of them ‘the one’ because why would I exactly? I think I’m scared I’ll become someone’s property again. Yes, I know this sounds dreadful but I told you it was toxic. I was a performing circus bear for many of those 15 years and now perhaps you can see why it was doomed from the start. Bears aren’t supposed to tell jokes in a tutu and turn a blind eye to bad behaviours.
I’m scared of feeling loss again* because it really did leave a gaping wound. These days it’s no longer bleeding, it’s scar tissue that tingles when it rains. Which I can live with.
Much like shedding a shitty boyfriend after six years, living through that loss has taught me exactly what I need from my friendships now. And if I don’t get what I need, or catch a faint whiff of toxicity, I’ll be gone before you can finish humming the first verse of the Friends theme. This might sound like I value myself highly above all others and I suppose that’s true. I’m protecting myself and I think that’s perfectly acceptable.
I should be clear about what constitutes toxic for me. It’s not people with issues, everyone has those and I can handle friends that need me, for no doubt I will need them equally. It’s not drama so much, though I try to take after Mary J. Blige on that topic.
It’s, well it’s like my friend Michaela says: “Some people are radiators and some are drains” and never a truer word has been spoken. If my friend is all me, me, me and can only see to the end of their own experience then I’m afraid I’ve got nothing for her/him. Even then I think calling each other out is a healthy and honest thing, God knows I need educating all the time on things I have no knowledge/experience of.
Sometimes friendships do have a period of being very one-sided. I can be extremely selfish, with time mostly but sometimes food. I don’t share food. I may forget to inquire how a friend’s job interview/doctor’s appointment went because I’m too busy gazing into my own navel (try it, it’s not that easy) but we tend to right ourselves and balance it all back out again because that’s how friendship works.
I’ve recently fallen out with a newish pal, can you tell? I’m getting there, I just wanted to set the scene with that introduction.
So, I find myself on the other side of last week and I’m one friend down and I almost can’t believe it’s happened. Not because I’m so amazing that I can’t fathom someone not liking me, no. But because I didn’t see what happened going down the way it did, yet here I am.
I’m not going too far into this. Let’s just say I asked for some understanding on a subject I feel strongly about (diets) and got nothing but bullshit back. I even apologised in case I’d expressed myself bluntly (extremely likely) but apparently asking not to discuss something personally triggering was one step too far. So I AM OUT.
My learning curve has not left me in the position that I now find cutting people out of my life easy, quite the opposite. My anxiety means it’s pretty much all I’ve thought of since it happened. I feel physically sick when I should be singing Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
I want to cry and roll into a ball. I want to lash out. Mostly, I want to rewind time to before I asked for anything and bite my tongue. Except why should I? I’m not in the wrong.
This week I lost a friend and I don’t feel good about it. On the plus side, well I asked for some understanding and that’s huge for me! I’m delighted about that. Perhaps at the end of this post is where I say, a lesson was learned here today: honesty may be the best policy, but not everyone wants to hear it. And not everyone is the person you thought they were.
*This is next to impossible if you trust someone. You have to love like you’ve never been hurt before, even with chums.