No matter whether we are an introvert or extrovert, we all need friends. No matter whether we are horribly shy or extremely outgoing, we all need friends. No matter our sex, social status, ethnic background, education, religious preference, gay or straight, white, black or purple, we all need friends. Friends play a significant role in our lives. Enjoying a truly healthy and happy friendship with others is one of the biggest blessings we can experience in our own lives.
Well, this area has always been difficult for me. Being brought up in an environment where healthy relationships were not modeled or taught to me, it has always made it even more difficult for me. Having lived in somewhat remote and isolated communities has made it difficult for me to pursue friendships and maintain them. Always feeling as though I have to question my own personal validity, self-esteem, and self-respect has made it even more difficult to maintain friendships. Living most of my life with a moderate to sometimes severe level of social anxiety makes it almost impossible to make friends and to feel comfortable around other people.
Some time back in the 90’s is when I began using the term “doormat” a lot. I have used it in reference to numerous interpersonal relationships I have had in my life. It is a term I have continued to use. Someone close to me recently explained it to me. She said, “Julie, you have a big heart and you always want to help others. Often times when you do this, you (inadvertently) leave yourself open to being taken advantage of.” Yes, that sums it up fairly well I think. I never want to intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings or step on any one’s toes. Well, I could use all of those catchy little phrases and words that we have all used at some time or another. However, the realization of who I am, what I do and the common end result definitely clarifies as the “woes of friendship.”
Today, due to recent events and many unspoken words, I came to the realization (or assumption) that my friendship has ended with another individual. With much introspection I realize that this latest round of a “toxic” friendship was no different than many others in the past. I am certain that I am partially to blame, as none of us are perfect. However, it is only now at the end of another friendship that I have truly reflected on the extensive list of things I have put up with, dealt with, stressed over and allowed to keep me up at night.
The key word in the last sentence is “allowed.” For each of us, it is ultimately our decision (and our right) to make the decision whether we are going to react in a certain manner, allow things to occur in our lives, and continue with what are ultimately recognized as “toxic” friendships. To me, a toxic person or a toxic friendship is one in which there is little to no cooperation by both parties to pursue the relationship in a healthy manner. We may change and grow and become healthier and the other person continues to interact with us at a previous level. The other person, in fact, does not change themselves. This is such a ridiculously small and somewhat non-descriptive definition. However, it gets to the point very easily.
I realize I can choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship or I can choose to remove myself. I can choose to remain miserable, or I can move forward to something better. In this case, I didn’t make the ultimate decision. I have done so in previous friendships. However, I realize now that I can learn from this life lesson and move forward, out of the woes of friendship.
Therefore, I choose blessings. As much as I want to rant and be angry, I’m not going to. I know that isn’t really how I feel. I feel frustrated, confused and hurt. But, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming for a long time now. I will, to the best of my ability, continue to pursue new friendships with emotionally healthy individuals and revel in the joys and blessings of friendships.
Thank you for listening!