I am quite a passive person. Growing up, it almost felt like I took the friends that I was given or rather, that I fell into.
I think youth is often like this, especially if you are from a smaller town. There aren’t a lot of options for people our age and we don’t even realize it. So, we make friends with the people we can, and then societal norms pressure us to “keep these friends forever!”
Now, this isn’t a story about how much better of a friend I am, or that I grew and am just this entirely different and “superior” person. I am not, of course, I am human and am learning each day what it means to be alive.
Rather, this is an actual summary of things that my therapist convinced me to do. When I one day spoke about how a couple of my friends didn’t make me feel good, she said “do what you do, and write it all down.”
Let’s call it harmful because the word toxic is just overused and horrible at this point. It is also one of Britney’s best songs, but I digress.
1. They talk behind your back
Now, of course, I don’t know for sure if they talked about me behind my back. However, I know first hand that every time I was with one of them they were more than certain to talk about the others.
It was like a game. It was fun to speak about the inner circle and discuss what we felt we couldn’t talk about in front of them. There were never insanely cruel things, but rather the type of petty nuances that make you cringe and wonder, “what’s the point.”
Because of this, I am more than certain that I was spoken about behind my back. Let’s be honest, it’s probably happening right now.
2. They aren’t understanding/empathetic
At one point in my family’s life, my father was going through a very difficult time. My grandfather, his father, had just passed away. They were extremely close so my father took it hard. He is also a very sensitive and caring person. He feels it all and feels it deeply.
He was heartbroken and being the type of social person he is, took to indulging in alcohol at an excessive amount with friends.
He would drink on the weekdays and come home in the middle of the night. My mother was so empathetic to what was going on that it was breaking her, as she didn’t want to be angry at my dad — but she also knew it needed to stop.
At one point, my dad wrote my mother and my sister (who were living in the house at the time) how he wanted to change and was sorry. He bought them flowers and cried, saying he wanted to get better and make better choices.
This was a huge moment in my family. It still is.
This also happened to be right before St. Patrick’s Day.
I remember telling my friend that I didn’t want to drink that weekend. I let her know what was going on in my family and felt vulnerable but that I could trust her to know the goings-on. I wanted to support my father and be there for him by being in his presence, and being sober.
“lol. But, it’s St. Patricks Day this weekend..”
I kid you not, this was her response to my honesty about my family.
This was six years ago and I still kept going. Self-inflicted wounds.
3. They aren’t afraid to call your baby ugly
I was on a call with my friends during the pandemic, a time that at our age has also resulted in a lot of covid babies being born.
Our Facebook is filled with the introduction of about a dozen babies. The different names, faces, photos, etc.
I love babies and I appreciate the photos, the new names, and the growth of everyone’s family. I think it is a beautiful time. I am a woman with a uterus from gosh sakes.
My friends, however, love to comment on all of this.
“Oh my gosh, did you see how ugly he is?”
“Where did that name even come from, so stupid.”
“He looks exactly like his dad, ew.”
I just feel like this immensely important aspect of someone’s life doesn’t need to be slandered by a couple of girls. I mean, call me crazy.
4. They laugh at other peoples misery
One night, my friends and I were having a games night. We had invited a girlfriend who has a tendency to be a little bit of a know-it. She is an extremely kind person, but my friends had decided that they no longer wanted her in the group.
It’s like being on survivor, I swear to you.
Anyways, this friend left early and went down to her car from the apartment. Being the type of person she is (lovely, but nosey) she listened from the lawn and wanted to hear what was being said. She later told me she had a “hunch” that she was going to be discussed.
She actually wasn’t, but my friends were going off about another girl.
My friend on the lawn took all these things to heart like they were about her. She texted me to let me know that we should probably close the window, as she could hear us. I later was able to convince her that they weren’t speaking about her.
Upon hearing about this, my friends cackled.
An actual full-blown cackle.
No one seemed to care that this girl was upset. Instead, it brought them amusement.
Oh, and no surprise, this was the last time that girl ever hung out with these friends of mine.
5. The dramatic paragraphs
One weekend during covid, I had a horrible headache and just had a long week. I work in healthcare and knew that I wasn’t showing any symptoms of covid and was rather about to start my monthly.
My friends were having another game night, and I let them know that I didn’t think I would be able to make it. I wasn’t feeling up to it.
Instead of wishing me better and saying, “no worries!” I got a paragraph.
No, an essay.
Why they didn’t believe me and that it was hurtful to them that I wasn’t coming. Why they assumed I was lying, etc.
I was mind blown. This small occurrence was actually one of the first wake-up calls to me to contact my therapist. I felt trapped and misunderstood.
I don’t care if I didn’t feel sick at all. If one of my friends wants to cancel, it’s for a reason.
Let. it. be.
6. They’re territorial
I don’t know what it is about girls and this, but some of them are unwilling to meet new girls or let them into their circle.
One weekend, my husband was away and I decided to have some girlfriends over.
What started as just these girls, ended up being a night with my “favorite people,” aka my sister and her two friends, and one of my best girlfriends. Someone who no one in this world could say a negative thing about.
However, these girls did. They were displeased and unhappy that I had invited the rest. They wanted a night “just us” they whined.
Perhaps I overstepped and should have discussed with them first. But, I never told them the entire plans anyways and it was my apartment for gosh sakes.
My friends pouted the entire night and left early the next morning, only to whine about it later on.
Friends are funny things, especially girlfriends that we acquire in our lifetime.
For some reason, we often have a hard time breaking up with friends. It feels wrong, unlike a relationship when really, it can be even more important.
Girlfriends and friends should lift you up, make you feel good about yourself, and encourage you to stay true to who you are. They should be kind, truthful, and respect your boundaries.
It has taken me over six years of wondering, moving cities, and some therapy to realize that this friendship wasn’t working out.
At the time, I had to apologize, what else could I do? I was confused and had not yet learned about this wonderful thing called boundaries.
Taking the time to respect me and build friendships that make the entire party feel good has given me a better outlook on what life is about.
It isn’t about bending over backward to make someone happy.
Good friends bend with you, accept your faults and honest moments.
They’ll also never tell you that your baby is ugly. They’ll at least keep it to themselves.