Life happens and through all its happenings; we forge, feed and support a variety of relationships, from family members, to co-workers to friendships. While there are the lucky people out there who have managed to maintain friendships that have spanned (in some capacity or not) 20+ years, this week’s blog post is sharing about the tough moments in our lives where we have had to make the collective decision to sever ties with some unhealthy friendships over the years. This post isn’t about pointing fingers or even about sharing in depth details about how the relationship fell apart, more about the pain and lessons learnt from making such tough decisions or the rejection felt when it was made for us, which is not too dissimilar to that of a break up in a romantic relationship. So, read away. PS: the photos used within the post are that of our friends and not people with whom we do not maintain friendships, there were merely used for the purpose of the blog post. Don’t be making up stories. 😛
I don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t gone through some sort of changing of the guard, rift or experienced drama in their friendships, especially that of ones between girls. I’m not making a blanket statement, but simply speaking for ourselves. It wasn’t until I was older that I had a much more, stable, non-judgmental, non-competitive friendship with another female that I fully trusted. (In the interest of being transparent, I’m not counting my friendship with my sister, because well it’s da bomb and she’s my sister first so- it doesn’t really count)… I’m a very friendly person and in my past, at times far too friendly. I’ve tried to keep in touch with a variety of my friends, but that being said there are only a few who know some of my secrets, ones I have shown my vulnerability to. For years, I was the fun girl, ready to have a good time, laugh and do funny things, but I never showed these friends the fear and the worry I carried around deep down. Never really told them much personal things about myself, just surface level and positive anecdotes of the past and in some instances, I have continued to keep what I classed as “the worse” to merely 4 people. It must be said that my inability to be fully transparent has nothing to do with my friends, it was merely the fact that it takes a lot for me to trust, but also, in the latter part of my high school years and early parts of my college years; I went through a huge betrayal within one of my longest friendships and it genuinely shook me. Ever since, I somewhat shut down. I can say and see that now, because I have been able to gain perspective, time, distance and with that, hopefully maturity.
For the majority of my high school years, I was pretty much stitched at the hip to my friend, I had a variety of friendships, but we did the most and everything together. We would talk all day and then call each other when we got home and still talk some more. She was like a sister to me, (keep in mind R2 was very little at the time so I couldn’t have the chats I was having with my friend with baby R2, we’re 9 years apart.) We called each other Soul Sisters, we even came up with our own logo, we’d fill note books full of friendship notes, poems, sketches and sharing our general love for each other. I genuinely loved her like she was my sister, I would have and did do anything for her and her approval meant absolutely everything to me. Like any relationship, you become obsessed and enthralled by everything they do and maybe it wasn’t healthy, but I really did love this friend to no end. Naturally as time goes on, you begin to form new friendships and it places your current friendships in a moment of readjustment; a reshaping as such. For us, this was a boy. They say chicks before d***s. but this boy really put our friendship to the test. She began to get jealous of how much time I was spending talking to this boy as it ate into the time we used to chat to each other. He lived in the UK and if you’re guessing, yes this boy turned into my partner, so I suppose you could say he was worth it. Wanting them to also be friends, because wouldn’t that be epic- your bestest friend in the whole world and your crush being friends?! Eventually, she began to get in between us and actually intercepting our phone calls and began planting seeds of doubt and for a couple of years him & I lost touch (mostly because I don’t fight for people to be my friends, got too much pride for that nonsense), but my girl friendship grew deeper and we even moved in together (like any healthy, evolving relationship).
But, this is when things began to take a turn, spending every waking minute together wasn’t as fun as we thought, while I was content following the academic path, she was in the process of figuring out where she wanted to go in life. Needless to say, we were growing apart- I was taking adulting very seriously and she was more about discovering the freedoms adulting gave us. The last straw was the biggest blow, to my trust and to my friendship- I was able to forgive her in her jealousy with my crush, but I later found out she was attempting to make their friendship more than it was, especially after knowing how much I cared about him. After a mutual “friend” made up a rumour about me, and I refused to fight/or defend myself within the story, as I felt she had already made up her mind about me if she as approaching me with said rumour. It also struck me because of something my mother always said; If someone is comfortable hearing a rumour about you, what are they doing that the person is comfortable to share the rumour with them? Without saying much else, I went into my room, packed a bag and moved out- not much else was said to each other after that. My last words to her was that her new found friend wasn’t her friend at all and that she would lead her to trouble, years later I found out my prediction came to fruition.
What I realized though, is that I never allowed myself the time to grieve the loss of our friendship, like you would if I had had a break up. Because I had spent so much of my time invested in her and our friendship, I didn’t allow space for any other friendships and then when said friendship crumbled, I was left with a void. One that I struggled to fill; I had naively allowed myself to be consumed by her and our friendship that I never sought out other types of friends; I hadn’t diversified. And this cost me; looking back over time, I realise that not having a squad of girlfriends who have your back was something I desperately sought and was missing. How would I find someone who knew me as well as she did? How do I fill the gaps of the years I spent with her, years no one else will really be able to relate to and get me like she did? In my mind I had severed ties because she was a bad influence, but over the years, I know that my relationship with her affected my future friendships, because if someone I knew and trusted for over a decade could betray me, then why wouldn’t a newer person, one who I knew less be any different? In some ways I feel like friendship break ups are worse than relationship break ups because it’s an intimacy that hits in a much more personal way. Relationships can end for many reasons, we take it hard, but we also accept its end somewhat easily because it’s part of life, but with a friendship ending it can be harder because it’s something about you personally that they didn’t like or that you didn’t like. I’ve found the literature about friendship break ups to be somewhat flippant in their commentary almost like it’s not a loss and that it should be recovered from easily. But some friendships are hard to shake, they are a person you let into your life in many aspects and to simply not address the pain of that loss is unfair to you and also unfair to the friendship that you shared, very much like you would a relationship.
I was talking to a friend about life etc and she mentioned that she had read an article about the relationship of friendships and how going through a loss wasn’t dissimilar to that of a break up in an intimate relationship. But also about how vague we are about setting the right and healthy boundaries we should within our friendships as we do within our romantic or parental relationships; this got me thinking about a lot. I will be fully honest and say that I began this post months ago and struggled to know just how to word things. After having my conversation with said friend, it encouraged me to go ahead and post it. Sometimes, no matter how much we care about someone and no matter how much water is under the bridge, no matter how much history we have- an unhealthy relationship is just that- UNHEALTHY.