Can we be friends?
Your vibe attracts your tribe?
How many friends do you have? You may have been told to go make some or perhaps break up with some? Mainly for your own good. Those friends may have been leading you astray or your parents have worried about your loneliness and felt you needed to get out of your shell and go socialise? Perhaps you're loosing friends left right and centre?
Maybe friends have been hard to find and you’re wondering if you have any real ones? Well here’s a story that you might appreciate.? It’s my own personal tale of friendship highs and friendship woes. People who have popped up when I've least expected it and those who have turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing. Hopefully you will be able to relate and it might even put your mind at rest.If friends have been put high up on the agenda or you’ve been questioning if you really need any, then this blog is for you.
Do you wanna be in my gang?
Unfortunately this phrase has a multitude of wrong associations attributed to it but it’s still something that rings in my ears from my teens and before then. Being in a gang and belonging to something was always held up with high esteem. After all, who are you if you don’t have any friends? Let’s face it, being in a gang not only sounds cool but it looks cool, doesn’t it?
If like me you grew up on matinee films on a Sunday, you may have been indoctrinated as to what friendship groups looked like. Those films from the 80s and 90s always had gangs at the centre, a group of friends who were there for each other no matter what. The films of that era set a precedent for friendship. They depicted the coolest people, doing the most fun things. They made the bad guys turn good and the odd girl turn cool. The bad girl always learned her lesson and they all lived happily ever after. Just take a look at films like Heathers or the Lost Boys, Legally Blonde or perhaps even Grease. Or a personal favourite Westside Story.
I don’t know about you but I've always felt like an outsider. Someone on the periphery. That strange gawky girl who stood awkwardly on the edges and looked in , not quite finding anything in common with the greater good and always feeling a little shy in groups, let alone crowds.
As a child I was constantly told to make some, and as a very young girl I had a couple. Well they were sort of accumulated. Mainly because they lived on the same estate as me and my mum had said hello to their mum at play group. They (the mums) had connected over coffee and donuts and we (the children) because the same age of sorts, lumped together to get on with each other and play. I vaguely remember these play dates, a few of them stick in my mind, one that combined a hamster and a turntable and another with socks, Daly Thompson and a Sinclair ZX spectrum, hold a strong visual memory for me.
But the comings and goings of friends has always been painful. It stems mainly from my first real heartbreak of a broken friendship, a relationship that at the time meant everything to me. But only recently at the age of 47 was it truly broken down for what it was and finally put to rest . And thus the mystery of friendships was forever broken and the saying
Friends for a Reason
Friends for a Season
Friends for Life
Finally gave me closure.
When friends leave you out
So let's start this particular paragraph with the tale of a best friend that was never really one. We had first met at primary school but never really connected there. As I transitioned to secondary school I thought she was uber cool. The way she dressed, her hair, the whole shebang. She was someone that I considered to be really cool. She had an older sister and she just seemed to be so confident. I thought she was it. We walked or rode to school together. And hung out with each other at her house, she seemed grown up and exciting. But things started to go wrong, when I was left out on more than one occasion.
Remember this is a time before cell phones and the internet. When plans were made on a Friday at school and times were set. There was only one phone in the house and unless you were using it after 6pm you weren’t allowed to just make a quick call to check plans. And so I would regularly think I had made plans for Saturday, a bike ride or a swimming pool trip , only to be stood up repeatedly. To make matters worse I would make excuses for her, like I had got the time wrong or maybe she had forgotten. But after one humiliating experience, where I had waited 2 hours on the corner of my road in the pouring rain. I finally decided she wasn’t my friend anymore.
To make matters worse., her new best friend, mocked me as being needy and I have never felt so left out in my entire life. But this experience of friendship basically clouded my view of friendships for the next 30 years. The spell was finally broken recently but more about that later.
Friends for a reason
After this particularly hideous experience with the memory now tattooed on my brain I was forever conscious of new friendships . I began to keep relationships casual, I would stay on the fringe. Never fully committing to one person in particular, no best friends, just acquaintances. Groups seemed the best way to go and I neatly would put these groups of people into boxes. For instance, friends from college, friends from the street I lived on, friends at work and so on. None of them knew each other and I never fully committed to one group. In order to keep these “friends” it involved a considerable amount of alcohol. Feeling incredibly awkward in their company I required Dutch courage to be around these people. Usually new groups were acquired with new boyfriends and I would seamlessly merge into the crowd and become the life and sole of the party. To the outsider I may have appeared social but on the inside I was empty. These friends filled a void but not very comfortably. There were wild parties and after work drinks. Mostly they were frenzied and a drug fuelled. Don’t get me wrong I thought I was enjoying myself at the time, but I was forever alone at the end of the night. Never quite understanding when the end of the party was and always overstaying my welcome. On more than one occasion I was completely left behind which made me feel even more alone. I was desperate for connection but it didn’t ever really feel right.
Friends for a Season
These particular types of friends always felt less pressured. I never placed expectations on them. I knew they wouldn’t be around forever and therefore they were easier as a result. I was also more flaky around them and I too did everything that you would consider to be a poor friend. I broke arrangements and turned up late. Talked about them behind their back and didn’t really care too deeply about them. I started to feel hateful towards myself. I felt I was making friends because I was lonely and that they never really understood me. I thought these people would be more loyal. They weren’t but then neither was I. The reflection of my actions and words were being held up to me starkly and I was abusing friendships. There was a lot of talking behind others' backs, and I started to wonder if in fact anyone was truly my friend . I was only getting what I deserved. At this point my whole life broke down. At this point I was fully disconnected from myself and from everyone else. Even the relationship with my husband was broken. I was pushing everyone away and in a self destruct mode.
But there is also another side to the seasonal and for a reason friend. It doesn't need to be cold or callous in its nature. My realisation came this Summer just gone where I again pushed for a friendship and tried to keep it alive well past its use by date. Friendships don’t need to be for life. We can be casually friends with most people if we keep in mind our reason or seasonal expectation on the relationship. Remember you may be there to guide them. To be a leading light in their path to enlightenment. Only meant to be there for a moment, to hold their hand when they need it the most, to be the lesson they need to learn. Never knock a short lived friendship. For it can be beautiful and perfect however short and succinct it is. If you learn to let go you will find the flow of friends will always be there and there will always be someone who has your back.
Therapists are not friends.
Holding onto relationships gone sour can be both destructive and poisonous. When my mental health breakdown left me in a very confused and vulnerable state. Maybe you recognise this state of mind. At this point in my life I was in a very distrustful place. Everyone felt like a wolf in sheep's clothing. My intuition was completely off. On more than one occasion I was taken advantage of financially and I started to be sceptical of everyone. I didn’t really believe they wanted to be friends with me and I only felt they wanted me around in order to boost their bank balance. Or look after their children. I have never felt so alone in my entire life. My private life was in a terrible state and as a result I was unable to trust anyone.
I wanted to talk to someone in order to understand why everything felt so broken in my life. I felt I was not understanding relationships or people. I was confused about who was a friend and who was a foe. Who was taking advantage of me and who had my best interests at heart.
I realised that I was placing way too much emphasis on friendship and expecting everyone that I met to be a friend. I just wanted to be nice and in turn for people to love me. But the truth is you can’t be friends with everyone and not everyone will have the same interests as you. To think of everyone as your friend is sometimes unproductive and therefore never feel hurt when someone is not meant for you.
Are you your own best friend?
So the therapy commenced and even with all the attendance and home work from those sessions I was still growing and learning as I went. I truly felt like I was a child in an adult body. It seemed that everyone else had understood the assignment and I was behind on the project. After all, how could a 40 something year old woman not understand relationships? The penny finally dropped when I realised that In order to love someone else you first had to love yourself. No-one can replace that love and no one can fill that void. The hard part of this story is that for you to truly learn this lesson you have to get your heart broken . And then, only you can piece your heart back together. The glue for heart mending is Love and Kindness directed from you to you.
Learning to love yourself is a lifelong process and one that will have you unlearning a lot. For you to truly have friends that love and accept you for you. You have to love and accept yourself for everything that you are. You have to see what those real friends see in you. And you have to feel confident in your ability to stand alone.
Friends for LIFE.
Despite this tale of woes, there are a few diamonds in the rough. There are a few friends who have stuck with me no matter what. Have seen me at my worst. They have turned up out of the blue like a gift from the heavens. They have come and gone from my life but also remained constant. Always there at the end of a message or phone line, always there to listen when I’ve needed them the most. These few friends, who I hasten to add can only be counted on one hand, know exactly who they are. I dedicate this blog to them. To those people in my life that no matter how ugly a friend I had become, have stuck by me and welcomed me back in with open arms. When I am with them the conversation flows and the laughs are loud. They need no substance to enhance them, they feel comfortable, like a warm blanket.
We’re all just looking for a connection.
Does your vibe attract your tribe? …My thought is that your vibe may come and it may go , your light may shine and dim, but the people who you connect with on a deep level do not need pretence to be with. You don’t need to change in order to fit in with them. You can show up in all your ugliness and complexity and still be loved for everything that you are. But in order to do that then you really do need to love yourself. These true friends will see you before you see yourself. They will notice that light that shines from you and see that you need guidance in order to step into your brilliance. Maybe you are that friend to someone who hasn’t quite seen their true self. Maybe you are the person who thinks they are friendless and unlovable?
Wherever you are on your journey of true friendship and self love, my message to you is……….
Keep on being yourself in all your weird and wonderful ways and if that special friend is still sticking by you no matter what, then they truly are a friend for life.
Know a friend who could do with a reminder to LOVE themselves? then take a look at this