The Friendships of Our Lives

The Friendships of Our Lives

One of my toxic traits is that I can be REAL toxic. I grew up in a toxic household, I was born a fighter, and come from a family environment where you don’t let anyone do you wrong. It’s been a ingrained in me since birth. I’m a very quick person to jump into fight or flight mode, and most of the time I want to fight.

With that being said, I am also the most nurturing, caring, proactive act of service person you will ever have in your life. I will do ANYTHING for people I am close to and will fight for them as well.

I’ve been in years of therapy, and have developed a pretty strong balance of controlling my fight mentality. It’s been a rough road but I’m now at the point where I can determine what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth pushing past and out of my life.

It’s not a new notion that sometimes people are very temporary in your life. Friends come and go, but some are meant to be there long term. This is something that doesn’t bother me. HOWEVER, one of the hardest things do deal with in my adult life is when I give too much of myself to people who turn around and dispose of me.

Like I said above, I am a huge protector of my friends, and many of my close friends would describe me as someone who they can rely on fully. I take pride in that. I will do almost anything for my friends, and I don’t expect anything in return other than strong friendships, love, and care.

This year, I have had a reminder of how I can be taken advantage of and how much it hurts when it happens. I’m a strong believer of paying it forward and what goes around comes around. This time, I’m not only protective of myself, but of others I care about that it’s affecting.

We all have those friends who keep making the same mistakes in life and we hold on to the fact that they will grow and change. I am sometimes one of those friends. But when their life shatters over and over again and you’re constantly there to pick them up – you expect the same care and reciprocation, right?

We help these friends through extreme transitions in life. We help them gain the confidence to get back on their feet and learn how to walk again. In some cases teach them some of life’s basic fundamentals they were incapable of doing before. Yes this is exhausting, draining, and time consuming, but we do it because we care about and love them. I have friends in my life who have done this for me time and time again, you all know who you are and I am forever grateful. I would not be here without you.

Then there are the friends who take, and take, and take. They empty your entire cup, maybe give you a pat on the back, then move onto their end goal. What about the ones who are looking to create this perfect looking life to the world? The ones who utilize those in their path to eventually get to individuals that make their life look glamorous but don’t provide any substance in return.

What do we do when we give so much to someone, only for them to cut us out and move forward without even a word? We do nothing. One of the hardest things to go through in life is a falling out where there wasn’t even a specific falling out. It hurts, and you sit there wondering what you could have done, did you do to much, could you have done more? The answer to all of these is nothing. That person has chosen to do what they did with no regard to you, and there likely wasn’t much regard in the first place. They were opportunistic.

Is it awful that they chose to use you for all you were willing to give them? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should completely stop being your true self. If you are a giving and loving person who puts so much into the relationships they have and often gets hurt in the end, think of this: how many people currently in your life have you been authentically yourself to that provide you with their same authenticity in return? How many people contribute to your life positively in their own way that you love value and support? Don’t let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

How do you adapt and protect yourself to prevent this from happening without putting a total wall up with everyone you meet? I have no idea, but my therapist and I are working on setting boundaries and this is what I have been trying so far:

Evaluate your capacity. Determine what you have to give in every situation and stay true to yourself. Having a tough time? You don’t have to burden or shoulder someone else’s pain and sacrifice or belittle your own to help them in their time of need. I actually have tried it recently and I had two outcomes: a true friend who understood and respected my boundary, and one who made it all about them when I needed to prioritize me. Guess who’s still in the picture!

We’re all still trying to figure this stuff out – myself included. I am very active in therapy to focus on my happiness and mental wellbeing. Broken people cannot help broken people. Remember: people’s negative reactions to your needs likely have nothing to do with your needs at all but their selfishness. If people want to walk out of your life, let them – they will make the bed that they must lie in.

I promise myself that I will do everything in my power to avoid getting in to a one-sided relationship ever again in my life. I know that I deserve better, and you do as well.



Secure Your Oxygen Mask before Helping Others

This is an on the whim topic that came up in a casual conversation today with a friend.

This is the scenario:

A friend of mine has had a rough week that was taking a toll on their mental health. It’s Wednesday and they’re exhausted (totally justified, not that it needs to be). They had a date scheduled for tonight but with everything going on, really didn’t feel up to it. They felt bad about cancelling, so made up an excuse to avoid hurting the date but it ended up backfiring after the date put together the contradictory statements and subsequently called my friend out. The date sympathized with them and all they are going through but decided they did not want to reschedule or continue moving forward. This was a first date, they had never met.

After this all happened, my friend reaches out very upset. Not because their date didn’t want to reschedule, but because they feel they hurt the other person by lying. The whole reason they lied in the first place was because they didn’t want to hurt their date by putting their mental health first.

My friend and I have both been through years of therapy and understand each other very well, so naturally we had a conversation talking through everything that just happened. When we were talking through everything, honestly it’s what inspired me to write this post. I feel that we worked through these problems that people who don’t struggle with mental health would feel is pretty straightforward. For those of us who do struggle with mental health I really feel that the discussion we had will be extremely beneficial, so I wanted to share.

First off, taking care of your mental health before prioritizing others is not being an asshole. If you are struggling you cannot support, help or even engage with someone else unless your needs are being met. This is spoken like a true introvert, but it’s true. It can be as simple as feeling that grabbing drinks would be too much for you, and asking someone for a rain check.

Being truthful and honest and straightforward about what your needs are is important in all relationships even friendships. if someone can’t handle that, they do not deserve to be in your life.

I personally think that dating is such a scary world to navigate, because people are afraid to express how they feel, or making someone upset when prioritizing their needs. On both sides of every relationship, each individual has needs that need to be met. And I’m talking from like the Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs model. (food, water, safety, Etc.) For anyone who deals with mental health, this would fall into safety. You cannot take care of yourself until your mental health needs are met.

I am not perfect and I have never claimed to be perfect. I have my own shit storm of relationship issues that I’ve written about on here. It is so much easier said than done but I think it’s important to continue to talk about it in order to make it a priority for ourselves.

So many people are more concerned with making others upset and hurting others, that they will put everything over their needs. If they don’t do this or if they stand up for themselves or communicate what they need, it’s an instant feeling of guilt. This scenario is a great example because my friend really does need to take a night for themselves, and I truly don’t feel that if they did go on this date it would positively benefit them. I think it would continue a spiral of anxiety and spike their depression, which is the last thing that I want for them, and what they should want for themselves. Now given how it turned out they are feeling extremely guilty. However I think no matter what the result was they would still feel that guilt just for who they are as a person. It’s a continuous cycle.

So how do we move past this? How do we grow from this point to being able to differentiate taking care of yourself and being an asshole to other people? I think it’s very important for us to prioritize what it is we need to be able to function. And this is coming from again years of therapy. I think it’s important to say am I being lazy or is it actually get a trigger me if I don’t take this time to spend for myself. What is my body telling me? Every person is different, every scenario is not the same, but it’s so important to be mindful of every situation. Take a moment to really think through what you’re feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally. Listen to what your body needs.

Positive and constructive comments welcomed below!