October 5, 2014

Thinking about friendship.

I think a lot about friendship. Ways to make time for friends, trying to hold onto old traditions that get harder and harder to keep up as we get older, knowing exactly who I can turn to in any given situation and making sure they know how much I appreciate that. The part I've always struggled with though is knowing when to walk away. Sometimes certain friendships need to end. You've grown apart or had a falling out or maybe the relationship was just toxic after a while. It sucks but it happens. I do believe in second chances though. But what if the second chance still doesn't work and no matter how much you try, you still can't open up or trust that friend the way you used to? Then what? That's been a big thing I've been dealing with this past year and I thought I could avoid having to come right out and say, we're not "best friends" anymore. Until said ex-best friend asked me to be a bridesmaid a few weeks ago and suddenly there was no avoiding it. Whoever said friend breakups are just as messy as romantic breakups wasn’t kidding.

I originally wasn't going to blog about it here and I'm not trying to air my dirty laundry. But I couldn't stop thinking about how I wanted to write about it. Writing has always been therapeutic for me and I figured, why not? I feel like this is something a lot of people my age can relate to. The older I get the more important it is to me to have friends I can really open up to and trust. Sure I have friends I can happily hang out with and I love spending time with those people. But the women I call or text when I have happy news or when I need to freak out, that list has gotten smaller and smaller and I'm okay with that. I'm at a point in my life where I know who my closest friends are. And I think part of knowing that comes from knowing myself a lot better now than I did ten years ago.

So when this person asked me to be a bridesmaid in their wedding, I knew I couldn't say yes.

The worst part is that even though I’ve known it was time to take some space from the friendship for a while, I felt such guilt over it. I know I didn’t do anything wrong but I feel like there’s a stigma (at least for me) that it’s harsh or mean to walk away from someone you have a lot of history with.

The night before, I started to think -- is being so careful of hurting her feelings the right thing to do? The kind thing to do? Honesty is the best policy for a reason, right? I think it's better to be up front about where you stand. But I'm not always good at practicing this because I'm naturally a people pleaser.

This eventual talk was one of the most awkward and most difficult conversations I had to have with someone. But I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I spoke to her openly. I said no but more importantly, I said that we were not going to go back to the way we used to be and instead of trying so hard to go back, maybe we should just concentrate on building a new, albeit different, friendship. I could see she was hurt but even now, I know I did the right thing.

I haven't heard from her since and something tells me I probably won't for a while. Who knows, maybe not ever. I think the biggest thing I've learned from this whole experience is even though the truth may hurt the other person, that doesn't make YOU a mean person. You have to be true to yourself especially when it comes to putting your foot down or knowing your boundaries and I think I finally get that.

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[Note: As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I missed writing openly and personally but I wasn’t sure if I should do it on this blog (I considered starting another one). But thanks to a talk with Magan, I got the extra push I needed to write what’s been on my mind. And thanks to Estelle, who read my different revisions until I got it right, I feel comfortable posting today. Except of course I am still nervous - hah! And if being this open is too scary, the posts will disappear from the blog again. But for now, I’m going to give it a shot.]

10 comments:

  1. I am really not sure I could have said no, I actually have been a bridesmaid in a wedding where I didn't like the bride or agree with the marriage because I couldn't say no. I need to follow by your example and do the right thing!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  2. This is beautifully written, Rachel. I think posts like these are important as well, and good to read, because it makes blogging so much more personal. I think it's great that you stood up for yourself (that doesn't sound quite right, but you know what I mean). Realizing that a friendship is over, or at least the way the friendship once was, is so hard, and definitely just as hard as a romantic break-up. In the past couple of years I've also said goodbye to some of the people I used to consider my best friends, and even though I really miss them at times, I think it's more the way the friendships used to be that I miss, because I know that it wouldn't be the same any more. I don't think it's a bad thing, because people grow and it's hard to grow together. I love that you stayed true to yourself, even though this (ex-)friend asked you to be her bridesmaid. I can imagine it would be very hard to do, but ultimately, it wouldn't be honest to help her when the friendship isn't the same as it used to be. I'm glad you wrote this post, because it made me realize that distancing yourself from old friends isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it's just necessary.

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  3. I can relate to this so much that it hurts!! First off, HUGS for being brave to post this and brave enough to do what you did. Two years ago around this time I made the decision to quit my group of friends (made up of guys and girls I'd been friend with since HS and college). I had been unhappy for a LONG LONG time and I just felt like they no longer served a purpose in my life (that sounds harsh...but what I mean is they weren't FRIENDS..the kind of friends I wanted to surround myself with). It had been a long time coming but Will and I had just gotten married and I was sick of feeling like shit about myself because of people. It was said because my HS and college best friend was an integral part of this group and her and I had drifted apart too..for many reasons. It was hard. It was SO hard. I kept trying to tell myself, "well maybe things will be different. Maybe I could do this." But I got so sick of trying and realizing this group would always be the same -- they always had been. And I was changing and it just...it no longer fit. I was sick of crying about it. But it was scary because so many of them had been my friends since high school and then the others were added to the group in college...they had seen me through a lot of things. It wasn't ALL bad memories but it just was so much unhappiness lately and I knew it wasn't going to change because there was a fundamental shift in me and that person I now was wasn't going to tolerate some of the toxic behavior and the CRAP I had put up with before. ARound that time I read Just One Day for the first time and it was that spark I needed. So I just quit them. Cold turkey. I could have gone about it better but it was what I needed to do. And honestly? As hard as it was...today I maintain it was the best thing I did. I felt so free afterwards. Last year I finally sat down and talked to the former bff about it and she understood my reasons and we had all intentions of trying to work at our friendship but realize it was something different...but unfortunately it's clear that we both don't want it enough because we haven't made much of any effort. But there's no ill-will or anything. It was an awkward conversation but I did feel free to actually let her know why.

    I'm proud of you. It's not easy! But I truly believe that cleaning out a little bit in the friendship department is a good things when there are friendships that don't fit right at the moment....it makes room for other people. And honestly...there could be a time when you come back together..ya never know. But pretending doesn't help anybody!

    *all the hugs*

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  4. I think it is so brave of you to post this, and I'm really glad you did!

    Actually, I'm in a semi-similar situation with a friend of mine. I've known her for 15 years and she's getting married in two weeks. About two weeks ago she asked me to come to her bridal shower, which was just last week, and I couldn't make it because family was in town and it's family I NEVER see. She was soooo mad at my mom and me because of it, and we haven't really spoken since then. All I can think is "What's the issue? I had family in town!" But I guess this is a friendship much like the one you had with your friend - when is enough...enough?

    I think there's something incredible to be said about the friends you KNOW you can always count on to be there for you. I also think there's something incredible to be said about friends you don't HAVE to talk to everyday, but you know that no matter what happens they'll be there to listen when you need them. A couple months ago I realized I feel no particular attachment to the friends I know through school because most of them aren't like me, but the people I've met through work and through blogging are so wonderful and I'm really glad I've forged strong friendships with them. It makes all the difference!

    So my point here, in a roundabout way, is that it's okay to severe ties with people whom you no longer have healthy relationships with! I think it'll make you an all around happier person. And don't be afraid to share these personal posts! You'd be surprised at how many people enjoy reading them. It's like a glimpse of the blogger behind the books. :3 *hugs*

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  5. I've already said this on Twitter, but I'll say it again right now: I think you're so brave in being so open and honest about your feelings. It's never, ever, ever easy to admit when a friendship isn't quite what it once was. Sure, you might have years of memories with the person, good memories, great memories even. And it's not necessarily that they're horrible people, really. It's more like they just no longer manage to be the kind of friend you'd need/want in your life any longer - and in the long run, it's best if you let them go.

    I've never really had a huge circle of friends to begin with, but lately, there have only been very few people I really want to have around me or as part of my life. It's gotten to the point where I know what kind of friends I need and want, and can even identify which people are really those kinds of people for me.

    I'm grateful to have YOU in my life as one of those friends <3 This blogging thing, and a mutual love of books is pretty great, isn't it?

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  6. This is something that I am currently working on myself. While I have a select group of friends, things change, people grow up and it's hard. But it's better to be honest with yourself and them. Even though it hurts, SO much. But I love you and I'm glad that you were honest with yourself. <3

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  7. First of all, so, so glad you decided to post this! I dissect friendships so much when I read about them in books, and often, I feel like maybe because I read a lot of YA, things are so grey and foggy. If the friendship is bad, then it's bad, and things just kind of fall apart. There are few great examples that come to mind when I think about friendships that have ended. People need to know and read about how to approach friendships maturely and how agonizing it can be. Letting someone go is one of the hardest decisions to make, whether that be in an intimate, dating relationship or in a friendship. We give pieces of ourselves to these people and it's so hard to think about rebuilding a friendship with someone new. Or starting over with someone and giving them a clean slate. What if they hurt us again and again? I think you absolutely handled your situation so bravely and maturely. The things you had to say were done from such a place of love that I don't know how your friend would be able to ignore you forever, given the chance to start anew and differently. But maybe she will. And that'll be the clear indicator that this door has closed. :)

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  8. I'm really glad you decided to do what was right for yourself. It can be really easy to stay in a relationship or friendship because you want to see the other person happy. I do, however, think it can be healthy to say what you're thinking and give a person the space that they need. It's especially hard when there are good memories! But like I said--I'm glad you did what's right for you!

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  9. Oh that is hard, confronting a friend and blogging it. I'm glad you were brave to share this. I'm sure someone, including me can take something away from this. Thank you!

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  10. Good for you for following your gut! Friendships can be such tricky relationships to navigate. My best friend and I had a big issue last year and trying to piece our friendship back together and rebuild a different version of what we had has been...interesting, to say the least.

    I hope everything works out okay and you're feeling better about the situation!

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