Toxic Friendships Series | Cleaning Up Your ‘Squad’: Pt. IV


Regular readers, since in both my anxiety tips, and my graduate mental health posts, I touched on the importance of cutting ties with toxic individuals, I thought it only fair to share with you my own experiences, and some of the sorts of behaviours you should look out for and try to avoid when trying to lead a positive life. I created this series both as a form of therapy and a means of warning/advising others who may feel like they are in the same boat. I’m making this a series, as it was a little long to include several types of toxic friend in one post. I aim to post at 11am GMT each week until the series is done.

Ps. Please don’t be afraid to walk away if someone is damaging your energy. It does not make you a bad person to walk away from someone who is toxic. You deserve happiness! x


The One(s) I Hoped I’d Never Have To Write

For me, though I can be hard to get to know initially, my morals are such that after I’ve been with/through a certain amount of things with a person, I will generally love them almost as an extension of my family. This is something that never fully goes away. These are the most painful friendship breakups of all. The ones where you’ve grown together, but sometimes they start to grow in a direction you don’t like. The ones where the person in your memories doesn’t coincide with the person stood before you today. The ones whose energy has changed and become suffocating or poisonous to your own.

For me, and i’m sure for many of you out there, you may find yourselves holding on to the people in memories, even though they don’t exist anymore. You may try to turn a blind eye to the negative traits they’ve picked up, hoping and wishing for it to just be a phase. The fact is, that life changes us. Sometimes people grow apart, and sometimes they grow into people who- when you really make yourself face the music, you don’t recognise… or even like anymore. This whole series was inspired by a recent experience. If the person(s) concerned are reading this (which I doubt as the lack of support has been going on for much longer than I realised), know that I’m sorry.

This is to be my final post in the series, with a view to opening it up again later on if anyone has any ideas or requests on toxic friends I’ve missed. This one was particularly hard for me to write hence I saved it till last. I hope you all can build the courage to end friendships that are/become toxic no matter how long you have been friends, because ultimately holding on to people that don’t love and support you in a genuine, healthy way will only damage you, and impact your life negatively. It’s ok to let people go if their energy isn’t right for you.

 

Dear Ex-Friend,

Life changed us, stretched our relationship over distances that meant we grew apart. We saw each other less and less, and each time I would see you I would notice differences. Some subtle, the shifts in your energy… less so. Before long the person sat before me was someone I didn’t feel that I knew. The person I knew and loved was too crazy and fun-loving to even notice things that this new person would say out of jealousy or spite. We used to be like siblings, but we changed.

I grew drained as each time we met a new person would become the subject of your anger. I tried to love you through it, sometimes smiling through discomfort and worst of all joining in, really wanting to believe that these people deserved the words you were saying. Hoping that you’d only talk about people this way if they’d severely wronged you,  but before long I couldn’t miss the pangs of envy that tainted your conversations. The people you spoke of all had something that you wished you had, and though the picture of victimisation was one I wanted to believe, the green began to seep through the cracks.

Before long I couldn’t help but wonder what you’d be saying about me behind my back. As I distanced myself, I felt the hostility growing inside you. Instead of looking inwards to consider why someone wouldn’t want to be friends with you, you lashed out. Not to mention, as it turns out, I was right to wonder.

I cannot fathom what could have happened in a persons life, to turn someone I loved for their carefree attitude and mutual aversion to b*tching about others into someone who could be so nasty. I supported you through everything I could, and ignored new warning signs as long as I possibly could have. But even as I felt resigned to distance myself from the friendship, nothing could have prepared me for the betrayal I felt when I heard that I’d become the topic of dinner conversation.

When I started blogging, I knew I would be judged for it. That’s one of the reasons I made sure to really cut down my Facebook down to people that I know (or thought I knew) loved me. To be ridiculed for doing something innocent and productive with my spare time, to say things like “who cares what she has to say?” was bad enough. But to screenshot a selfie and to tear apart my actual physical appearance, my marriage, my existence… To be that spiteful towards someone you shared years of memories with- was unforgivable.

To you, dear “friend”, I honestly hope that some day you can fill the void or the chip on your shoulder and realise that the world isn’t out to get you. Treating the people who love you awfully isn’t going to wind up benefitting your life, it will only push people away till you wind up alone. I never thought I would have to say goodbye to you, and part of me hopes that in a few years time this will have all just been a phase. I truly hope you can recover the person you were, because I know that deep down this toxic person isn’t you. But until then, for my own sanity, I think I’ll have to put this one to rest.

I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I believe that soul-mates are not always romantic partners, or “the one”, or even necessarily friends made to last; but they may also be people you meet at a time in your life when you need each other for one reason or another. As they say, some friends come for a lifetime, and others just a season, but to me that’s no reason to say that you can’t cherish the memories you made together. Ultimately, you hold the pen to your novel. When I was younger, all I ever wanted was to fit in. When I met you, for what ever reason, I did. As we grew, our views on love, friendship and trust began to grow and change- and us with them. If you’re reading this, and you find I’ve left you behind, know that it was never easy for me. For me, when I love someone, I love them loyally and wholeheartedly. No matter what you’ve done, or how time has gnarled us, know that I wish you the best.

Love From,

Frankii x


**DISCLAIMER: This post is not directed at any one in particular, but there may be elements applicable to several people whom, for one reason or another, are no longer a part of my journey.**

Toxic Friendships Series | Cleaning Up Your ‘Squad’: Pt. II


Regular readers, since in both my anxiety tips, and my graduate mental health posts, I touched on the importance of cutting ties with toxic individuals, I thought it only fair to share with you my own experiences, and some of the sorts of behaviours you should look out for and try to avoid when trying to lead a positive life. I created this series both as a form of therapy and a means of warning/advising others who may feel like they are in the same boat. I’m making this a series, as it was a little long to include several types of toxic friend in one post. I aim to post at 11am GMT each week until the series is done.

Ps. Please don’t be afraid to walk away if someone is damaging your energy. It does not make you a bad person to walk away from someone who is toxic. You deserve happiness! x


The Limpet

A “Limpet”, based on a crustacean that lives clinging tightly to rocks, this is my term for those insecure clingy friends. These are the friends who will bombard your phone/social media when they don’t hear from you for a while; send you on guilt trips every time you can’t hang out or need space; chastise you for having other friends, and require constant and consistent reassurance.

Dear Limpet, 

I’m sorry that life has been so unkind that you’ve ended up insecure. I’m sorry that you asked me if you were annoying so many times that it got annoying. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be happy for you when you entered new relationships, because I knew how your insecure attachment style made you think everyone who smiled at you was ‘the one’.

I loved you for your sweetness and your unyeilding loyalty, but soon I felt that you were becoming less and less yourself. First I felt you adopting my hobbies and interests, though never having experienced them before. Then I felt you adopting my mannerisms and opinions- never one to disagree or challenge what I had to say. I wanted to know you, and I thrive on intellectual discussions. I silently willed you to disagree with me even once, but it never came. I wanted to know you and grow with you, but I soon realised it is hard to be friends with a reflection.

The truth is, as a true introvert, we were never a friendship built to last. I need my own space, I crave it for energy. To me, my own company is like a cool breeze on a stifling summers day. To you, with a predisposed fear of abandonment saw this as a slight. Friend, though you were kind and constant, I could not sustain the amount of emotional energy your friendship required me to give. I found myself needing more and more time alone, time with friends who knew themselves well enough to trust that I would always return after a day or so to myself.

I hope that one day you find yourself and grow. I hope that you find opinions and interests that are authentic and your own. I hope that you stop trying to be everyone except yourself, because until then you will always feel insecure and unaccepted- since the person you are presenting isn’t the real you trapped inside anyway. I hope that one day you understand that I didn’t “abandon” you or “cut you off”. I hope that you can learn to put your insecurities aside in order to walk in my shoes and not feel betrayed by my absence. Perhaps one day when you know yourself we will meet again- and I won’t feel harassed or pressured every time I see your name pop up on my phone. x

 


Dear Ex-Friend,

I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I believe that soul-mates are not always romantic partners, or “the one”, or even necessarily friends made to last; but they may also be people you meet at a time in your life when you need each other for one reason or another. As they say, some friends come for a lifetime, and others just a season, but to me that’s no reason to say that you can’t cherish the memories you made together. When I was younger, all I ever wanted was to fit in. When I met you, for what ever reason, I did. As we grew, our views on love, friendship and trust began to grow and change- and us with them. If you’re reading this, and you find I’ve left you behind, know that it was never easy for me. For me, when I love someone, I love them loyally and wholeheartedly. No matter what you’ve done, or how time has gnarled us, know that I wish you the best.

Love From,

Frankii x

 


**DISCLAIMER: This post is not directed at any one in particular, but there may be elements applicable to several people whom, for one reason or another, are no longer a part of my journey.**

We should all put our phones down sometimes


I’d like to talk a little bit about the damage that the overuse of smartphones has in general. Not just for dating, but for all relationships, and for yourself.
The first time I ever realised how reliant my generation had become on social media was at a fireworks display around New Year’s Day. As I snapchatted a video of the beautiful seaside display, I looked up and noticed that not one person stood around me appeared to be present. Every. Single. Person. There. appeared to be watching the display through a lens of some description. As a media graduate, I adore expressing myself through photography, but at that moment I realised how often I would forget to open my eyes experience things first hand. No amount of megapixels or panoramic view will ever surmount to the beauty one can capture in their memory with their own eyes.
As a millenial myself, I’ve often been guilty of spending far too much time on my phone. I am aware I’m extremely active on social media, I probably spend a great deal of time laughing and sharing memes my Facebook friends have shared. My mother always upheld a strict “no phones at the dinner table” rule. As a moody teenager, this was an abhorrent concept to me; recently, however, I’m beginning to think she might have been onto something.
The idea for this blog came to me while I was sat in a coffee shop waiting for my friend, observing interactions between three sets of two people. Two of the pairs consisted of a young man and a young woman.
The first pair consisted of a man and woman, probably about my age, if not a little older. The conversation seemed to have many awkward lulls. While looking down, they would look up occasionally, laugh, and then their head would be pulled back down, almost as though it were drawn by a magnetic force.
The second pair were talking enthusiastically, smiling and using exaggerated hand movements. It was pleasant to witness two people enjoying each other’s company like that. From observing the way they looked at one another I would guess that they were in the early stages of dating. By contrast, I realised I couldn’t guess at the relationship between the first pairing at all.

Then, I noticed the one difference between the couples. The first pair had no phones on the table.
I wanted to say that the second pairing was a first date going badly, but as a millennial I am all too familiar with the concept of smartphone addiction. I’ve seen couples I am friends with myself, sat at dinner staring at their mobiles and forgetting to speak to one another. Some people almost look as they are on different dates.
The third couple, and perhaps the most tragic of all, appeared to consist of an elderly woman and a young man. Perhaps her son. The older lady appeared to make several attempts at initiating conversation with the gentleman, whom unfortunately seemed all too concerned with the device in his hand. This genuinely upset me a little. How rejected she must feel, I thought, to be sat opposite someone who seemingly appreciates your presence so much they cannot take their eyes off an LCD screen long enough to engage in even the smallest of conversations.

Basic manners aside, you may argue, how else are you supposed to stay on top of a constant flood of emails, social media updates, texts, and calls?
For the next fortnight I’m going to experiment by making a small step, nothing too drastic, but I’m going to implicate a no-phones-around-others rule. Notwithstanding small exceptions for occasional messages to my husband if I am engaged for extended periods of time, and of course the occasional commemorative selfie. I’m hoping that by putting my phone in my bag that bit extra I will be able to show my loved ones how significant they are by giving them the most important thing of all. Time.