They say you learn the foundation of friendship in your younger years.
How to be a caring friend by reciprocating, how to listen; learning not to make everything about you, and that sometimes, being a friend means just listening and lending an ear.
However, what I’ve learned in my adult years is that the fundamental lessons of friendship that we learn as children and young adults not only holds and stays true, it evolves, and it becomes more complicated.
I’ve formed some pretty amazing bonds with people through my life, and especially, this past year in the writing world. I get along pretty well with most people; I believe that I am pretty open-minded, and most would say I’m sort of a ‘go-with-the flow’ type of gal. The majority of my friends are the same way.
The thing with adult friendships is that they have so many more factors compared to your youth and college days. As adults, we have more responsibilities; we have children to look after, jobs to attend to, marriages that come first, and a million other things that worm their way in to make our lives work. Life can be busy, and a bit messy. And, as we all know, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and so much more.
However, one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how dark my life is, or has been, I’ve always tried my best to not allow those life burdens to carry over to my friendships. Most of all, I’ve never once used my personal life struggles against others.
I have friends who are stay at home mom’s, and being honest, many days, I envy them. Some work days are so frustrating, I want to bang my head into my desk rendering myself unconscious. The thought of staying home and not having to worry about the mountain of paperwork on my desk…well, to be honest, some days that sounds really nice.
I have friends who have zero financial worries as their families are more “financially stable” than my own.
I have friends from all walks of life, and if I do anything with those friendships, I learn from them. I learn the good. The moms that are able to stay home with their children, I try to take the positive they shed and implement it in some capacity in my own life.
The successful families with little financial worry, I try to learn from. How do they juggle it all? How did they make it to where they are without losing sight of what they were after? Most of all, how did they stay sane in the process?
My friends that are different from me, I learn from them. And, I love them,-unconditionally.
However, what I don’t do is seek out the things about my friends’ lives that I don’t like, or may be a tad envious of, and use those things against them. I don’t hold animosity towards the friend who just posted a photo of her new hairdo at the fancy salon around the corner while I sit in Fantastic Sam’s praying that my straight-as-a-board, $9.99 hairstyle comes out even. I am not hostile towards my friends with free health care, while my family scrapes by each month trying to cover our $1,000 health insurance bill.
I recently had a friendship diffuse in my life. I like to think that I am a pretty forgiving person, but this individual knew every last bit of my life. I had shared everything with this person and she knew everything from my dark past/fuck-ups to my personal health issues. She knew it all, and in one fell swoop, she unleashed verbal diarrhea on me with the force of a 10.0 earthquake. She used my life struggles against me, she took my most vulnerable moments and fired them at me one-by-one, as if she were unloading a magazine of the most piercing bullets, and it hurt, it hurt a lot.
At the time, I was in shock. I didn’t defend myself, I didn’t stand up and say something, I remained quiet. I figured that she’d eventually come around and apologize for the horrible things she said to me, but it never happened. So, I let that friendship go, because those are not people you need in your life.
We all fuck up, and as my friend Victoria so perfectly put it in her Scary Mommy article:
“I care that when you mess up, you admit it and that you can apologize sincerely, because of course, everyone makes a poor choice once in a while. We slip sometimes. The ability to recognize our wrongs are learn from them is more important than being perfect.”
But, what do you do when that person never comes knocking on your door with an apology? Well, it’s taken me a bit to figure this out and I’ve finally come to a conclusion: nothing. You do nothing.
We all are fighting our own battles; none of us are perfect, and I can most certainly attest to that. However, I can also say that when I am wrong, when I have cut deeply, intentionally or not, I have the character to stand up and not only admit my wrong doings, but apologize for them, too.
Forgiveness isn’t that hard to come by, shockingly. It’s just asking for it that some people seem to have the inability to do.
I cannot tell you how deeply painful it is to have your past, a splinter of who you once were, dredged up and used in some capacity against you. It’s heartbreaking. I haven’t been stabbed in the back since my high school days, and I am here to tell you: it hurts just as badly as an adult as it did when you were a 17-year-old Junior in high school. In fact, it hurts more.
So, be mindful. Be mindful that just because someone may have a happy exterior or seems to have their shit together, that doesn’t translate to “their life is perfect.” Learn from the people around you, and remember we all have one battle or another that we are fighting. Or, if your life may not be where you want it, or YOU may not be where you want, there is never, ever, an excuse to hurt the people that care about you; the ones who’ve opened up and shared it all with you. It often takes a lot of courage to share your past with people, especially if your past is riddled with mistakes, fuck-ups, and a lot of darkness. Never, ever, use that against someone. Never use that as lighter fluid to spark your own boost in self confidence, to make yourself feel better, or whatever it is you may be after.
We all have a story, a past, and there is truly nothing worse than having that used against you and your current character. It takes a lot of us a long time to land where we are, and using those intimate details and pains that someone has shared with you AGAINST them is one of the most hurtful actions you can take against a friend, another human being.
And hey, you know what? If you have, or are reading this and can think of a time where maybe you’ve been a little less than sensitive, or maybe just down right cruel, apologize!
I think sometimes that’s the worst part. A wrong doing on your part, and then avoiding the situation. A lot of people are a hell of a lot more forgiving than you’d imagine, and sometimes admitting you fucked up, were in the wrong- it goes a long way.
What doesn’t take you anywhere is being headstrong and pretending like nothing happened.
I promise you that.
To my friends who know my battles and still love me, thank-you. To the ones who know my battles and never once thought to use them against me, a double thank-you, and to the ones who stood up and fought for me, I love you more than you will ever know, more than I can ever put into words.
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