The blatant truth is, writing about toxic friendship, is equivalent to treading muddy water. It is nothing but a grey area where people do not wish to broach, much less discuss about. Classify this as a taboo, you may, for it might as well be.
After all, friendship is only…a cross between being in a “blood runs thicker than water” family bond and a relationship without the romance aspect. Some will say “Oh it is just friendship, it is whatever, people come people go, do not take it too hard, should not matter too much”.
Well, kudos to you if you have that people-come-people-go mentality, bet you can sleep easy at night. But for some others, there are people out there who value friendship as seriously as other relationships in life. For others, friendship is everything- they might not have family anymore or they personally do not want to be tied down in a relationship, so friendship is one area in their lives that they invest in whole heartedly and in totality.
I will not delve too much about what personally transpired as I feel like in all fairness, there are 2 sides to a coin and my mum has always taught me enough manners for me to not blow smoke behind someone’s ass. However, for the sole purpose of blogging this down, I will attempt to beat myself around this topic, with the utmost respect and decency for the ex-friend in question.
I had a friend whom I have known since I was 12 going on 13, I am now for reference, 33 going on 34. Yup, that was only the longest 20 years of my life I can never get back, all masked in the name of friendship. 20 good years gone, therefore by and by, this gives me major credits to be talking about the toxicity of a friendship per se. This person (respectfully) is now a has-been in my life.
When we met, we were tiny un-impressionable girls not knowing any better in life. We grew up to become teens, young adults and eventually adults with jobs and life responsibilities and eventually looking for commitments. Quite obviously, over the years, we have both changed as a person, in our insights, goals and missions but the last thing that I was hoping for in a person, was a change of morale.
The good thing about toxic friendship is knowing, learning and experiencing what it is like first hand to be with someone who calls you her best friend but in reciprocation, me just being in a limbo of a life, not knowing exactly how to react except to just go with the flow. Her flow.
The bad thing about toxic friendship is.. where shall I begin?
Toxic friendship is..everything that does not feels right.
Through the long treacherous years, the friendship never felt organic. There was for lack of better words and as cliche as this will sound, a lack of chemistry. Something will always feel choreographed, something will always feel forced. For the most part of it, comfort will not be a word I described our bond. I always felt hesitant-both in my words and actions. I was struggling to live a life full of hidden lies around her and the friendship, not that she knew who I really was to be honest, but I had to dumb things down so I can portray a more decent and “angelic” side of me. In truth, I was a facade. A deceitful facade. Not one I am proud of either.
Toxic friendship.. is all about her, and none for me.
Sure, I will hear her rant about the guy who she dated for 7 years but have never been introduced to me, and listen endlessly I will do. But as soon as the table is turned, after she is done ranting with her weekly updates of the phantom relationship and sucky colleagues and annoying sisters and everything in between, she will be perpetually exhausted and too drenched to listen to me and my own life stories.
Add this up to tumultuous years of me listening to her and no one to return the favour, I AM JUST SO FREAKING DONE. A little consideration would be nice somehow. I am not anyone’s 1800 help hotline, if she has not yet learn, communication goes both ways, we have got to chat, we have got to discuss and we explore suggestions together. It does not only start and finish with..you.
Toxic friendship..is being judged, always.
For years and years, she was not privy to my truth and deep dark secrets, as I felt like that there was a huge judgement weighing over our friendship. Every move and every step throughout my life will be over-casted and shadowed by her discernment. Gone clubbing on a Friday night? Distasteful. Weekend away with another girlfriend? Unclassy. Got a new lover? Unchastity.
Quite clearly it is a reflection on both ways, I felt that I never knew who she truly was and I felt that there must be a colossal part of her life story that is not being told to me either, but told to others in her other circle of friends. What a way to make your best friend feel special? Needless to say, honesty was not our strongest suit.
I have never trusted her with anything, neither a secret nor any random object. Why you may ask? Because she never trusted me with hers. I remembered being engaged once before, and in this engagement party, all I asked for was just simply a favor of holding on to the gifts that was given by my guests. Just hang on to it for few hours, or pass it on to my Mum who is busy welcoming the guests. Can she do it? She could but did not want to. She said no I can’t and walked away. She left me discombobulated that day. She simply cannot rise up to a simple favour and she calls me her best friend. Ponder on that.
Have you ever think of the person you will call in the dire needs of an emergency? Me too. Very bleakly, she will never be the first person to pop in my head. The idea of calling her when I need some help followed by her impending questions and the judging and the whys and the oh my gods and eventually the I cannot come right now, is insufferable. That is, to put it very plainly, just so sad, if you are not able to trust someone whom is supposed to be there for you through thick and thin. And trust me, I have always been there for her.
Toxic friendship is.. over possession of my life, my time, my space, my emotions.
She wants to be the one and the only one that matters, when it comes to friendship. Sure, I will come and meet your 458 friends from all walks of your life but does she ever take any effing efforts to know the other people in my life, my friends from tertiary, my friends from work etc, even any love interest I might have at any time? Na-da. No questions asked, no interest shown, just absolutely nothing. Zilch. It is like as if, if she does not ask, maybe the people in my life will mysteriously disappear? That she thinks in this tiny bubble, there is no one else but her and me?
There have been multiple occasions where new people will come in my life and I will be excited to share them with her over meet ups or gatherings, but she was just not into it. Either she never made the effort and turned up or she will do so in disdain and in recent years, talked about my friends in passing with such hatred. Seriously? I could never mention new friends I have made to her because the jealousy that I can sense dripping from her is just unbearable. That is not friendship my friend, that is just being selfish. That’s being over controlling to a point of suffocation.
Toxic friendship is manipulation.. at its worst.
If she was not in a good mood, I cannot be in a good mood. If she was feeling grumpy and shitty, I was expected to shrivel and cower around. If we were ever quarrelling which was quite often, dare I say that it was over the limits of a normal friendship, she will never be the first to say sorry. NEVER. She was never at fault because she was always the best, make no mistakes about that. The ego just killed me through and through, sometimes the tension was so thick in the air, you can slice it with a knife. She would dictate when she is done being in a slum and when she wants to go on being shitty. The world apparently evolves around her, while I waited around walking on eggshells. That’s not a friendship, that’s treating me like a punching bag of emotions.
Toxic friendship.. is not standing up for me on my wedding day.
My wedding day, is only the most important day of my life. No biggie.
Never asking me if I need help with my wedding plans, but only telling me that I should let her know if I need her because she was “not used to all of this” whole wedding thingy, when in fact she has sisters and cousins and friends who are all married and she was knee deep into it. Making me invite some of her friends whom I barely know only because she would be “awkward” on her own best friend’s wedding day. Running off with her own friends halfway through my wedding and me discovering later on, through one of her invited friend’s Facebook post that they have gallivanted off to have high tea in a hotel in the middle of my wedding without a word or saying goodbye. Who does that?
And again, struggling to fly and visit me once I have moved because it is “too awkward” with the idea of staying in the same house as me when I am sleeping with my own husband in another room. Weird? Oh yeah, you have no idea.
Toxic friendship is also.. leaving all your single friends once you get married.
Girls, do not do this. Be it when you find a new man, engaged, married, do not be a classified missing person. Your friends were there in your life long before the man waltz in, do not abandon your friends just because you have a “new life” now. When you do this, you are giving off a very pungent message of ” I need you only when I am bored or single or both”, Please do not treat others like dirt.
Thanks to another toxic friend of mine, I personally learn not to ditch my other friends now that I am married. Never mind that I was a maid of honour in her wedding, the years of being her friends, the laughter and the tears, the time, the money, the effort, the energy, the respect of her cultures and tradition, never mind all of that because that sister got a new man. Never saw it coming that she was post-haste to ditch all of her single friends once she said I do.
Toxic friendship.. can be a million and one other things.
The list does honestly goes on. It branches from criticising you about your life decisions, body weight, career move OR it can also go to the other end of spectrum of using you as a portable ATM machine-this friend will only comes to you when he/she is broke and in need of moolahs. The said friend will usually not surface for repayment. The list is long and unforgiving.
Am I a toxic friend?
You bet I was (notice I popped the word “was” instead of “am”). I will be the first to raise my hand and say, I was not a great friend. Gosh, in fact I was pretty shitty myself. I was not always there, I bullied some of my friends emotionally and physically (Yes, making someone go down on her knees and hands to save my stucked heel in a gutter on a clubbing drunken night while yelling at them to do it faster-yes been there done that).
I was not always great.
But I grew up and I noticed every single time I am being mean to my dearest of friends, I feel bad if I hang out with someone and talks about me instead of listening to them, I don’t feel the greatest if I have to lie just to cancel our meet up plans.
And yes, I learn.
I attempt and attempt hard and painstakingly to make conscious efforts to grow some balls and be nice to people around me. I am aware that every single one around me have different problems and struggles every single day, being nasty towards them does not make me richer, smarter or better. Being mean or grumpy to people around me only makes me- malevolent, baleful, antagonistic.
But toxic friends do not always notice these, they do not always want to learn and they surely do not want to change, they just want to exist to torment scapegoats in their life for their pleasures and benefits.
Toxic friends are not fun to have, so why do we still have them anyway?
Because sometimes, if you are like me, you just want to do right onto others. Being rude and telling toxic people to scram was never high in my to do list, in fact I did not even know how horrible the friendship was turning out to be until years later when these people in question truly showed their flamboyant colours. By then, the milk will already have curdled.
If there is anything that you can take away from reading a chunk of my word diarrhoea, I will say that the best lesson to learn is, to nip it in the bud.
If you are befriending anyone and realise that there is something off, you do not feel amazingly great being around that person, you do not think that the person is being friends with you for the right reason, the person abuse you with words etc, or just whatever it is, you can walk away. Just walk away. Remove yourself from a situation which does not suit you, it is your life, your choice and your power. You do not have to hang around them just because you cannot say no, just because you are such a nice person and you do not want to hurt anyone.
Take it from me and learn that, a week will become a month and will become a year and eventually will become 20 years before you know it. You will be saving yourself a world of heartaches in the future when you realised that the friendship was not worth it at all. Save yourself before others. It is only self-loving and righteous to do so. You only owe yourself that much respect.
Learn that cutting some of your “friends” off from your life is not evil or cruel. It is a right of passage, think of it as cleaning out your wardrobe ala Marie Kondo style-get rid of clothes that you don’t wear anymore to make space for new clothes that will put a smile to your face. Friends are not clothes, that I know, but that is a good analogy to start with.
Remember that we only have 24 hours in a day, not a second less or a minute more. So, choose wisely who you welcome in your life, who you approve of staying in it and who you allow to take up your time. It is noble to show up for everyone, but what is left of you at the end of the day? Not much, honestly. Don’t you think your mind and soul deserves more than just a wiped out brain and a broken soul?
As soon as I hit 30, my field of vision when it pertains to who are my real friends, staggered significantly. I have no time for funny and fake friends, friends of a season, friends who are passing by because I simply don’t. My time and what’s left of this heartache is simply too precious to be given up for some senseless bidding in an auction. I am in this life for only true quality friendship, not quantity. If I am spending time with you and making the efforts with you, you are in my team. You are my person.
Always remember that YOU ARE A GLASS COMPLETELY FULL, not half empty neither half full. You are a strong driven soul who does not need bad friendships or fake relationship to dictate how amazing you really are.
Remember, you are enough.
People who come into your life and stay, are only lucky and blessed to be in the presence of a company of a great soul.
If you are in the thick of a toxic friendship, get rid of it. If you are catching yourself being a toxic friend onto others, remember that we may all never be a perfect friend but we can always lean on the side of being a better friend. Start now.