I have wondered lately why friendships aren’t seen as complex as romantic relationships. They have the meeting phase (which is extremely difficult as an adult I might add.) Then there’s the honeymoon phase, where you realize all your common interests and spend a ton of time together. And then, when things get comfortable, things can just fall through. When you break up with a love interest, your friends encourage you that you’re better than what they put you through. You believe it, grow and move on because you know you are more valuable than that. But is that not true for friendships?
I’ve lost many friends over the years. A few particular relationships stand out as they made me question if there was something wrong with me. These were people I could see being a big part of my life for years to come. And they’re gone. I’ve walked away from some, ran from others, and some have left me behind themselves. When it happens time and time again, it makes you truly question why you always seem to be the common denominator.
Through the insecurities, though, I’ve finally learned a lesson, and maybe that’s why it’s happened so often. I needed to learn this lesson. I needed to learn to voice disagreements before they boiled over.
Looking back, even as far back as high school, I can tell you that often, the relationships where this happens were already on a shaky foundation long before the damage was bad enough to end things. Issues that I was too scared to bring up. I didn’t want to lose my friends, so I just ignored the core problems and nearly drowned in the ensuing drama. Of course, in high school, we didn’t quite have the emotional stability to address and work through those issues as much as now, in my late twenties. But the point is, I’m finally learning to pinpoint the problems early on before the proverbial house collapses.
In that sense, the problem was somewhat me. I was so afraid of losing something that was already fragile that I just ignored the red flags until it was too late. In the last decade since then, I’ve really worked internally. I’ve found my spine, and with it, my voice.
Alongside those newly strengthened traits, I’ve also found my independence. I’ve spent so long being afraid of loneliness that I allowed people to treat me less than I deserved until I broke under the pressure and finally stood up for myself. It doesn’t take me so long to catch on to that, now. And I’m not sure if that’s intimidating, but so far it hasn’t worked in my favor—strike that. As I write this, I realize it’s not that at all. It’s not working in their favor.
Something I tell my children is that they don’t have to be friends with someone who treats them unkindly. I tell them that disagreeing doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them, but that you don’t have to put up with people who are flat out mean or are disagreeing more often than not. They are worth more than that. It’s time I start leading more by example, because I realize it’s true for me, too.
See, with each ended friendship, I’ve learned more about myself. I’ve grown, evolved. I’ve discovered that I am actually a person that I like. I’m happy with myself. I take pride in who I am. I’m not perfect, but I know I’m always learning. I have learned my worth. And I won’t stand down when others refuse to see it.
Most recently—very recently, actually—I lost someone I considered a close friend. Lost is putting it lightly, honestly. They tore themselves from my life completely. Something they did bothered me, but I didn’t bring it up. I was trying to have grace and move forward, but as I struggled, I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. I suppose my feelings were shining through our regular conversations, because I was flat out asked if something was bothering me. I was honest. Why would I lie? What would that accomplish? I explained that while I accepted the apology, I felt I wanted to address a few things specifically so that I could process and work on moving forward. So I put it out there. I’m a writer, so this was all handled how we usually talk anyways, on chat. I asked for them to take time and process what I had said, hoping to have a mature, relationship growing type of conversation, not rush through things in a heated manner and causing more wounds than necessary with high emotions on both ends. The next day, I had a goodbye message with a little error box telling me I couldn’t reply. They had blocked me. This was someone who I regularly called best friend. I had future plans with this person, like being in their wedding, going on a trip together. And now there’s just nothing.
Perhaps I could have handled things more gracefully in this most recent event. Been more willing to discuss step by step instead of relying on my strength as a writer and putting it all out there at once. Or simply addressing it sooner. I will take responsibility for my part. I believe in accountability. I’m neither perfect nor immune to making mistakes, and I will never claim to be. And I’m upset—I’m hurt, I’m angry, even, but I won’t try to force someone to see my side. I will mourn the loss, and others that have been like it, but I will not apologize for letting someone know when I’m upset. I will not apologize for not agreeing with someone all of the time. I will not apologize for knowing I’m worth more than that.
You can’t sacrifice yourself, can’t sacrifice your worth, for someone else. I can tell you, in the aftermath of a huge loss, that this stands true.
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.