I have a lot to say on this subject.
It’s not an easy realization to come to and it’s just as difficult to communicate it to those you care about.
In short, friendships matter a lot to me.
Without a solid family unit growing up, friendships have become my chosen version of family.
And I’ve worked very hard at being good at maintaining them.
Luckily I enjoy being a friend as I am naturally a very loyal and involved person.
And before I knew what emotional boundaries were, I often felt a lot of the pain for my friends and worked my ass off to make sure they were okay.
(and the patterns developed with my mother continue …)
I was committed, consistent and made sure to communicate how much I cared.
A little (or a lot) co-dependent yes – but I was always honest and loving.
Having a twin sister has helped with learning how to be a friend, too.
We lived with each other. We had to deal with our arguments. We couldn’t just walk away.
Therefore, I’ve learned to listen, stand in conflict and not fall into the trap of needing instant gratification.
I’ve learned that change takes time.
And I’ve also had the benefit of being on the receiving end of some really great friends.
When I was growing up, I had one best friend.
She was reactive, hilarious, possessive and always physically there when I needed her.
We spent almost every day together for a large majority of our 11- year friendship.
We never truly spoke about what she saw going on in my house (I don’t think I could either at the time) but I knew she never judged us for it.
To this day, I believe she was my first soul mate.
I learned a lot about myself through her and through losing her.
It was a priorities issue.
I craved connection. She craved freedom.
We were on different paths and we didn’t know how to communicate it without being mean.
(though years later, we were able to reconnect and rebuild.)
When I moved to California, I met three different females who quickly became my new best friends.
We all worked together and
we were all evenly two years apart.
One was younger than me and she was patient, soft and a hopeless romantic.
The other; outspoken, glamorous and brutally honest.
The last; hardworking, stable and extremely funny.
We were our own Sex in The City group.
I loved all of them.
They all served different parts of my personality and all witnessed me at a very crazy time in my life.
I was angry, disconnected and trying to out run my pain.
I spent years this way and we spent years drinking watermelon margaritas and eating mozzarella sticks.
Until one of us went to school, the other had a baby and then a second and I left that location to work at a different one.
After that, I learned very quickly that I was the glue.
I was the problem solver and the reliable one. (again, the pattern continues…)
I was the best communicator and without us all being physically in the same building, the friendship as a foursome …slowly started to fade.
I was frustrated at first because I don’t like change and I wanted us to all be together again (my desire for a family unit) but I had to surrender and I learned to have relationships with them individually.
During this season of change, I met two more people and they too, quickly became very good friends of mine.
This time, they were men;
One the same age as me who was intellectual, observant and we had the love of sports in common.
The other a few years older who was extremely loving, sometimes absent minded but a great listener.
It was interesting to meet them when I did but I was excited about my new friendships and continued to learn what it was like to have more than one friend who was close to you.
Is this what it feels like when people care?
I also, right after I met them, started going to self-love therapy and started to learn to tell the truth and figure out how my childhood had affected me and what I needed to pay attention to in order to change those habits.
It took a few months but I slowly started to introduce what I was learning to my friends.
I was losing it over The Four Agreements and couldn’t wait to share my input.
It was the beginning of un-learning toxicity and re-learning healthier habits and I was growing at a rapid rate.
Although I didn’t know it at the time.
As I started to share and express what was happening for me, they were all pretty open.
A few were a little easier to tell than the others but as a natural giver, I wanted them to feel the same way I was.
It didn’t feel intrusive. My intention was to inspire them.
I felt lucky.
I started to feel a little more seen and heard and began to live in a world where I didn’t have to hide anymore.
I started to feel powerful.
I again, was going beyond what was expected of me and my experiences and I became sort of a teacher in a way.
I continued to share, for a few years after.
And my friends and I continued to talk about awareness, childhood trauma and emotions.
5 whole human beings on my side? Who don’t need anything in return other than me just being me?
Not including my amazing sister and stud of a boyfriend at the time?
I was living my best life.
My home life fucking sucked but hey, I had friends who gave a shit.
A sister who validated my anger and a boyfriend who was my dream come true.
I had thoughts of all of them standing up at my wedding, …and the men walking me down the aisle.
I had won the friendship lottery.
A life I had always dreamed of.
Who needed parents anyway?
These were my people.
I learned the truth and learned how to tell it, with them.
I went from a raging hot headed young adult to a grounded and peaceful woman, with them.
I laughed with them, I cried with them, I screamed with them, I worked out with them, I traveled with them.
One of them I spoke to every single day,
two of them I saw every single week,
another was my emotional life match and we understood and complimented each other with ease.
I spent years with these people.
In fact, it’s been almost 10 years since I met my girlfriends and 6 years since I met my guy friends, …
and a lot has changed.
2 of those 5 friendships has made it and while the vision I had for my life is completely different than my current reality, …
I can look back and affirm this to be true;
As I continued to grow on my journey,
And learn what the fuck was wrong with my childhood, …
As I continued to understand and make decisions solely for my mindset and my physical health …
I was able to start understanding who I was as a person.
I was able to finally figure out what it was that I actually desired.
I so consistently and almost on cue attracted so many avoidant personality types, … (my parents again …)
That I was consistently hanging out in this anxious space that I also was very comfortable in. Oddly enough.
Until – I stopped.
Until I stopped people pleasing and compromising what I really wanted.
I learned that a lot of what was happening in my house and the systems I was apart of … I actually recreated elsewhere.
I wanted to change that.
I wanted to become more secure.
I was very serious about altering my life path.
I learned that I actually didn’t want to be the problem solver anymore.
I wanted to feel more with my friends and be more human.
I learned that words of affirmation and acknowledgment are non-negotiable for me.
I learned that loyalty and being true to your word carry more weight with me than most other characteristics.
I had to stop apologizing for what I needed to feel good.
To feel important. To feel valued.
Outside of what I did to feel good on my own.
But with this realization also had to come communication.
I couldn’t expect my friends to read my mind.
I couldn’t expect them to just know what was okay with me and what wasn’t.
Especially when I was making such big changes.
So I slowly started being truthful with what I wanted.
I started nervously making big statements.
I started being honest about if the friendship felt more one sided.
If I felt, they only wanted to be around me when it was convenient for them.
I was tired of having my schedule so full but still feeling so alone.
So I had to speak up.
And that was a huge step for me.
Everyone listened but not everyone followed through long term.
I then had to find the strength, energy and stamina for follow up convos, …
Because I wasn’t kidding.
And each time, after one follow up too many, … I had to surrender.
You can’t make people into who you want them to be.
You can’t convince people to believe you are worthy.
Others will want to know your love languages and how you feel best supported and work to grow into that, … and others won’t.
And that’s okay.
When we finally choose growth and healing over denial and anger, we are constantly on the path of evolution.
& I choose to believe that we are meant to meet who we are meant to meet at the time we meet them.
Whatever it is they teach us and we teach them.
Sometimes it’s long term and sometimes it’s short term.
And that’s not to say that we should expect others to be exactly where we are, either.
Everyone learns and feels their pain at their own pace.
It’s when their lack of attention to their own pain affects how they show up to you and your friendship, — that is the issue.
And you really don’t need anyone to understand or validate what is harmful or not harmful to you.
The permission has to come from you.
And if after intentional conversation and effort, … things still don’t change, we have to encourage ourselves to accept that sometimes people don’t give a shit about personal development and sometimes they think they do, until you hold them accountable for what they said they wanted, — to find out that they aren’t ready.
And while I move forward with clarity and without judgement, —
I also choose to no longer slow down and accommodate when it’s painful to me.
I choose to not say yes when I really mean no.
I choose to value my time and how I want to feel over someone else’s self-created drama and suffering.
Because ultimately it’s my responsibility to take care of my side.
And I know what I’ve been through and most importantly,
I know how difficult it has been to get to this point.
And now being fully away from my mother and all of that drama,
I spend a lot more time in my own space, finally feeling safe, having fun and feeling peaceful —
And nothing comes before that.
In truth, I wish my friends could have grown with me
I wish we could have figured it out together but I can’t care enough for two people and that has been a gigantic lesson for me to learn.
That no matter what I say or do, no matter how I mange to show up and articulate, …
That after several conversations and several attempts at improving and rebuilding, …
The support and understanding I was offering …eventually became enabling. Whether I was enabling them to stay in the same story or with accepting excuses, I was enabling the friendship to stay where it’s at.
And once you start to enable, you’re actually hurting the both of you and it can take years to come back from that.
It’s even worse when they blame you for their short comings.
And that’s a game I gave up trying to win a long time ago.
So I encourage you to get to know yourself.
Really know yourself.
Figure out how you want to feel.
And then build the rest of your life around that.
Unapologetically. No matter what stays or what goes.
Even after all the pain and discomfort, I can promise you that you won’t regret it.
Need help figuring out if a friendship of yours is actually you living out old patterns? Schedule your free consultation here and we’ll figure it out together.