A greek philosopher named Epicurus (lets just call him Epi for pronunciations sake), stressed the idea of having friends, so much so that he said having friends is the “wake to blessedness.” Epi even went so far as to buy a house of bromance and invited his friends to come live with him. He believed that friends are there to give us the things that we can’t normally give ourselves, and that we in turn, must deliver the same services, which forms a codependent companionship.
Now, I’m not sure that we would all want our friends living, eating, sleeping and breathing in the same space 24/7, but I know I have made elaborate plans with my best friend to buy a large farmhouse when we’re old, filled with silky chickens, baby goats and miniature horses. Our spouses will just have to deal with the fact that we’re all going to live out the rest of our lives together, probably smelling like a farm animal. Not everyone has the same views on friendship. Maybe you’ve been hurt or betrayed by a friend, maybe you feel like you don’t have the time, or maybe you’re even one of those who feels like they don’t “need” friendships and all you need is your spouse. To that I say, THE PRICE IS WRONG. What we all need are friends we can grow with, because lets face it: It is tough outgrowing your friends. It is also necessary.
We all have different types of friends that we have met throughout different phases of our lives. We have our childhood friends. These friends have seen us eating sand, screaming from the deck of our playhouses like banshees, playing Dad’s club soccer together (some of you just picked at grass or dandelions and it really shows) and all the other weird things that little kids do. We have our high school friends. These are the friends we went to football games with, tried out new clubs or sports together (apparently I owe all of my high school friends an apology for forcing them to try out for the golf team with me because they are all scarred), spent hours getting dolled up for dances, talking about our crushes and maybe even crying about our first heartbreak. You have your college friends for some of us and most of the time spent with them was either in the library, at the bars or laughing your asses off in your tiny dorm rooms. You also have the friends you meet at work, the ones who make it more bearable to spend 40+ hours there a week and some of them turn into family. Of course, you also have the friends you meet from mother/father hood. While I have not experienced that yet, I know the bond of moms is a strong one. You also have all the people you meet in between these major life events. The friends you meet in the bar bathroom, or the friend of a friend of a friend that you end up not being able to live without. Every single person plays a role in your life and has shaped you into the person you are today or the person you will become in the future, whether it is something you are aware of or not.
Some of us are lucky enough to still have friends from when we were kids or in high school and I think you can be lucky enough to have someone that you’ve known for a short time, who has become one of your “move a body” friends. I am not a believer in time determining the bonds of a friendship. While more time equals more memories, it does not always equal a better friendship. I spent most of my life investing in a lot of the wrong people and relationships. If everyone hasn’t picked up on the trend yet, we here at SLC love us some Queen Brene Brown. In one of her books, the Gifts of Imperfection, she explains 6 types of people you should never be friends with. According to Brene (and something I wholeheartedly agree with myself), authentic friends are the ones you can share your vulnerability and shame with. With that being said, not everyone deserves to be the ones who we share our intimate selves with. It’s okay to let your guard down with trustworthy people. The list of people who just don’t cut it according to Dr. B, are:
We have a tendency to steamroll over the people who aren’t on this list to get the attention of those who would never show up for us. “If we share our shame (vulnerability) with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”
How many of us have made space for the people on this list? I know I have. Some people on this list had been friends from high school and some had been friends for a short amount of time. If you continue to grow, you will continue to outgrow things. Now there are some people that will naturally fade out of your life if they were only meant to be there a short amount of time. No fights or last disagreements. Just lost touch. If you are one of those people, 9/10 I have love for you and am rooting for you. If I loved and cared for you as a friend, that never truly goes away (unless you did me hella dirty). I lost a handful of friends in the past 3 years in some pretty nasty ways. More than I had ever lost in my lifetime. At first, I blamed myself. I must be terrible. After some soul searching, I began to realize that as we get older we begin to fall into habits. We get into work routines, routines when we get home and do the same type of things with the same group of friends. I realized, that if everything around you remains constant, you are not growing and if we are not growing, we are not truly living. I decided it was time to cut off the dead leaves and grow new healthy ones. That meant cutting out some toxic friendships and relationships. Now, it is okay to have the same group of friends as long as you’re growing like weeds together. These were dead grass. Was it easy? Not at all. My first step in the right direction was getting out of a toxic narcissistic relationship. This relationship had caused me to neglect my “move the body” friends. The ones who would show up for me. Why? A main characteristic of a narcisstic partner is to get their partner secluded from their support system so that all you feel that you need is them. I allowed this to happen and take blame for my part in that. Luckily, I was aware enough of what she was doing that I never treated my friends poorly or made excuses for her, I just felt like it was easier to not have to listen to people tell me how horrible she was because I already knew that. I was just stuck in the abuse cycle. It was easy for me to repair these friendships afterwards because I took accountability and made them a priority moving forward, just like I had done previous to getting into that relationship. After that was a slow but domino effect of people I had been friends with since college and even high school. The only way for you to authentically stay close to people you are outgrowing, is to either, #1-shrink when you are with them (situational shrinking), #2- help them grow with you, or #3-fully accept them for who they are but realize the negative influence they have on you. I was not willing to do #1 or #3 and they were not willing to do #2. Granted, we all don’t grow at the same rate, but (another Brene brown quote) “It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our own authenticity.” It’s hard to be a good friend when you’re living your life for your “Facebook” friends or are doing things to make yourself look like a better person than you are. Put in the work to ACTUALLY be a better person, to grow and your life will automatically become more interesting and you will attract the right partner and friends. The people I chose to have in my life are authentic and vulnerable and these qualities make them kind, honest, trustworthy and pretty dang cool.
There was a shared tweet I saw on Facebook that really helped me be at peace with my decisions to cut these few people out of my life because I was really struggling. “StOp BeInG sO dAmN fOrGiViNg, Mo Fo’S bE oUt HeRe KnOwInG wHaT tHeY’rE dOiNg.” Now, I would have chosen to word that differently but it still rings true. PEOPLE KNOW HOW THEY ARE ACTING AND KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. I said that loud for the people in the back. The ones who think you have to murder someone in order to owe anyone an apology or take any accountability. High school, college, time, memories, tears, adventures, none of that gives you the right to be a shit friend or in some cases, let your partner treat your friends/family like shit. In a strong relationship, compromise happens, accountability happens, forgiveness (where deserved) happens, self awareness happens and growth happens. This blog is one of the things that has been birthed due to having a self aware partner who loves growth and a best friend who has grown right along side me for 14 years. I am blessed enough to have a handful of friends outside of those two who I can honestly say make my world go round. These women and men are out there fighting for things that I care about and making a difference in other peoples lives. Some are out there doing big things polictically, scientifically, some are in the health care field, mental health field and some are out there being the most badass role models for their children. Whatever it is your tribe does, be at peace with who you know will show up for you. Be at peace with the values you share together. Life is too short for any other type of toxic other than toxic by Britney Spears. For those of you gems, the ones who feel deeply, the ones who expect more: it is a rocky journey, but I am telling you, choose to spend your time digging for the “move a body” people and you will find those diamonds who are just like you.