Continuing this series in growing pains and life lessons is another topic I’ve learned even very recently the hard way, and in dare I say it one of the most painful ways possible.
I’ve never been much of a social butterfly and I have very few friends, and as such what few friends I do have I will go to great lengths for. It’s just the kind of person I am. I can be a bit of a tough nut to crack but once you do crack my shell you’ll find the most loyal friend you could ask for. I’m probably even loyal to a fault or to the point of being a pushover in a lot of cases.
Alas, that has led me to a lot of heartache also. I’ve held on to way too many friendships that have been or become toxic just because I don’t want to be friendless. I guess I was so afraid of being friendless that I was willing to make myself miserable for the sake of friends who I probably should have cut out of my life sooner but I was just really hesitant to.
Of course, with the last toxic friendship I had coming to an end very recently, I’ve come to realize that although I will miss certain aspects of this person, the fact that I’ve “broken up” with this friend has actually been liberating for me. I’m not as stressed anymore nor am I subjecting myself to the misery of this person telling me how I’m living my life wrong and/or that I “need help” or a whole host of other stupid-ass bullshit. It also didn’t help matters that this person is an ex-girlfriend. Yeah, since when did remaining friends with exes ever work out long term?
So with that, I’ve come to learn that toxic friendships are, for all intents and purposes, disposable commodities and that it’s far worse having toxic friends than having no friends at all. Can it get lonely having no friends? Absolutely, but the relatively low level of pain that comes from isolation pales in comparison to the intense pain a toxic friend (or a toxic relationship of any kind) brings.
I’ve also learned that sometimes a little pain now will prevent pain later. It’s OK to be sad to break up with a friend. In some ways it’s like grieving after all – this person has been in your life for however long and you’re cutting them loose because the friendship is no longer a symbiotic relationship (though at one time it probably was or you would have never befriended said person to begin with). If anything it’s become a parasitic relationship.
The moral of the story? Don’t feel obligated to remain friends with someone who really doesn’t treat you as a friend, even if you’ve been friends for decades. Cling to those who will treat you with the dignity, respect and love you deserve and cut ties with those who don’t. You might wind up with a smaller social circle but after the initial pain subsides you’ll find a newfound sense of liberation and you’ll draw even closer to those who mean the most to you.