Codependency starts with someone who is lost. We’ve all been there before, we find ourselves in a friendship that is no longer serving us but we’re so dependent on that person for support and love that we can’t seem to let go. As I’ve become surer of who I am as a person, I’ve become more ruthless in cutting people out of my life. I am proudly a professional at blocking every method of contact and moving forward without that person.
My friendships were all very normal as a child, in middle school, and even in high school. I went to 5 different elementary schools, so I made friends easily but never got too close. Middle school was the era of being friends with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes and being home by dark, all that small-town Midwest shit. High school was when I became super independent and over involved in extracurricular activities. While my friends were doing sports, starting to go to parties, and get involved in pop culture, I was joining orchestras and volunteering. That was the first time that my path divided from my friends and I wasn’t able to adjust by either making new friends or retaining those other friendships. They were all still nice to me in the hallways, and we still sat next to each other in class but that’s pretty much where it stopped.
By the time college rolled around I spent 3 years dating a guy and not learning how to make friends. Cue the freshman shit show that was me. I managed to make a few friends who embraced my short hair and violin playing but I got too attached. I relied on them for my happiness because I was just so freaking lost. I was also seriously socially awkward because I hadn’t spent my high school years learning how to be social, how to have fun at parties, or how to be carefree. After I stormed out of our shared apartment a couple years after being friends with them, I felt so angry. But to be honest, looking backwards I didn’t know what I needed in a friend at that point. They were as there for me as they could’ve been, as anyone could’ve been. Our paths in college became very glaringly different but that didn’t make them bad people.
I could probably do a whole other post on toxic friendships because I’ve had those too. But mostly I want you to remember these 5 things about the friends in your life who are no longer there:
- Taking different paths in life doesn’t mean they’re bad people. People grow apart all the time and that’s totally OK. It feels angry at the time because you’re trying to emotionally experience the loss of companionship but giving grace to the situation will always feel better.
- Never feel bad about cutting someone out of your life. Your friends are there to SUPPORT your lifestyle and choices, not make you feel guilty about them. If your friend is being controlling or trying to talk shit on everyone else in your life except themselves, RUN AWAY. Trust me, you’d rather be alone on a Friday night watching Netflix, then have a toxic friend.
- Appreciate the small gestures from past friends, it’s a small acknowledgment that they still have a small space in their heart for you. One of my closest friends from middle school still texts me every year on my birthday and it always puts the biggest smile on my face (hope you’re reading this bean!).
- With that being said, be hard on yourself about past friendships. Admit what you did wrong, what you could’ve done better, etc. A friendship or any relationship you have with another human is a two-way street. Instead of saying “she was a bully”, you can also say “I didn’t stand up for myself”, or instead of saying “she was mean”, you can also say “I didn’t tell her that I didn’t like how she spoke to me”. It may not change how you feel about the state of the friendship, but it will teach you that it’s your job to teach people how you want to be treated.
- Friends are not your emotional dumping ground. I got into a rut of just dumping all of my problems onto my friends and then walking away. After a while that wears people down. People have enough of their own problems without you also putting yours on top of them. When you’re going through a hard time in life, your friends should be there for you but sometimes you have to accept that they don’t have the mental and emotional space for you as well as themselves.