Whoever said, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer” probably lead a really sad and depressing life. Keeping negativity in your life can be so draining. I couldn’t imagine actually trying to keep people who you know are poisonous, close to you. But that’s not to say I haven’t done it before.
Moving away from home shows you really quickly who you’re true friends are. They’re the ones that always make the effort to keep in contact with you. They’re the ones who are excited to see you when you come home. Friendships that require too much, fade out. Sometimes removing your physical presence from a friendship sees the friendship quickly dissolve into nothing. Those are the worst because you realize your friendship was more about convenience than a true connection. They can leave you sad and confused.
The end of a friendship can feel, in a lot of ways, like a break-up. The person that you spent so much time with, divulged your secrets to, trusted, and shared memories with, is suddenly gone and you’re left wondering what went wrong. I have had a lot of those feelings over the past year. My life has been a crazy mix of ups and downs and as I’ve ridden this roller coaster, people have fallen off the ride. As with anything, time heals all wounds. Eventually you realize that life goes on without that person. Or sometimes, you realize that you’re straight up better off without them.
I had one of those ‘ah-hah’ moments just last week. I downloaded this app called TimeHop on my phone. Basically, you log in and sync it to your social media. It then shows you your posts from today, a year ago, 2 years ago, 3 years ago, and so on. Sometimes, it’s incredibly embarrassing to see the shit you posted 4 years ago, thinking you were being some sort of revolutionary activist. It’s also a great warning to quickly log into whatever account and remove that picture of you posing in a towel before an exhilarating act of skinny dipping 5 years ago. But it’s also a reminder of the shape of your life as you have grown into yourself. You’re reminded of how far you have come and what battles you fought to get to where you needed to be today. Anyway, back to my ah-hah moment. I logged in to see a picture I had posted on Instagram 2 years ago.
I would say that at that point in my life, I was really trying to work towards being the person I wanted to be. I was filling a void with ‘stuff’ and was incredibly unhappy. In an attempt to find out what created the void, I decided to stop making unnecessary purchases. I needed that void to be empty so I could figure out what it really needed so that I could feel fulfilled. I made a New Years resolution to not buy any new articles of clothing, for as long as I could. I ended up making it until June. It felt incredible to move away from not only buying things I didn’t need, but also from my issues around body image. I decided to spend my money on experiences instead of physical stuff and slowly, I was able to fill that void. During this period, I also got a new job that paid more money than I had ever made before. I owned a small, yet new, vehicle that I was paying off, but my sights were set on an SUV. I was getting older and knew that I wanted something reliable, spacious, and paid off before I had children. Knowing I was good, solid 5 years from having children, and factoring in Saskatchewan winters, I felt that it was a good time to purchase my dream car. I bought the previous years model of a brand new vehicle. It was a huge expense, but I could afford it and had logistically worked it out in my head. It turns out, that vehicle was well worth the purchase as to date it has driven me across this country, lived in 3 different cities, and physically been lived in at one point. But, I digress.
Getting back on topic, you can see from that picture that I was really into the idea of minimalism. I was at a friend’s house and this was posted in her bathroom. What a great message to remind yourself of every morning. I took a picture of it and posted on my Instagram thinking maybe it would catch the eye of and inspire others as it had done for me at that very moment. It didn’t take long before I started receiving comments on it. I wish I could say they were uplifting, positive, and motivated/motivational messages from friends, but they weren’t. Instead there were 2 people, who I considered my very close friends at the time (one, almost family), mocking my post. The comments looked something like this:
Friend #1 “Does this mean you’re selling the rims on your explorer”
Me “It’s an escape. And no, I’m not going to be an extremist”
Friends #2 “Just because you didn’t do your hair today doesn’t mean you are a minimalist #image #youcare”
Me “See [Friend #2] this is why we don’t hug”
Friend #2 “Because you’re a whore”
Looking at this now made my jaw drop. How could I have ever considered these people friends? Why did I allow myself to be treated this way? I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t respond with more confidence in myself or more conviction. But I remember what it was like at that time in my life. These two people in particular always gave me a hard time and I put up with it. I wasn’t perfect and I certainly hadn’t refined any of my coping, communication or debating skills. I also didn’t have a lot of support or back-up from my partner at the time. These two friends were in my life through him and I rarely felt a sense of protection from them by him.
My response to friend #1 isn’t surprising. I know even now how much a poke like this probably sent me into a ranting rage. I kept my response short and simple, pointing out that if you’re going to make fun of someone, you should probably at least try to get your facts straight. But again, with this being the inherent nature of friend #1, there really wouldn’t have been a point to go fully into why he had absolutely no right to make a comment like he did, especially considering his own personal situation and claims he made about who he was.
My response to friend #2 is an attempt to be funny. Looking at it now, I can see how unfunny it actually is. Not my response, just the ways in which I was spoken to. I was often told by those around me that I became a different person around friend #2, and that they didn’t like that person. I knew that I went beyond my boundaries of how I would normally talk to anyone else with friend #2, but that’s really how our friendship was. We didn’t hug. We rarely had heart to hearts. Most of our conversation surrounded talking about other people – another poisonous characteristic I don’t miss. It was all about who could take it the furthest and be the most crude or disgusting. I’m not saying everything we said was horrible – some of it was downright pee your pants hilarious – but a lot of what I said I’m not proud of.
Now that I’m not friends with #2, I am sad for the person I was at that time – so naive and self-conscious. If you ever have a friend where you spend a majority of your time talking about other people, do not think for one second that you’re immune to it when he/she is with others. Generally, if you know someone who seems to be always gossiping or talking shit about other people, you’re a topic in their conversations with others as soon as you leave the room.
I was lost at the time that I made this post. I was searching for who I wanted to be. I wanted things to believe in and I wanted to make commitments to myself for personal growth. When there are people around you who condemn you or make fun of you for doing that, they are not your friends. You should never have to be made to feel bad about yourself for being who you are or trying to be a better version of yourself. It’s no wonder that a majority of that growth happened after people like friend #1 and friend #2 were out of my life. It’s much easier to experience self-exploration when there aren’t people who you care about chastising you and making you feel bad for it.
Healing after loss takes time. But every once in a while you’re provided with friendly reminders that you’re on the right path and you’re better for having made all the decisions you did that lead you up to this very moment, right now.