As we approach the end of 2018 I can genuinely look back on the last year as a real turning point in my life. It was the year that I finally realised a lot of things that have been repeating lessons throughout my life. They say if you don’t learn the lessons you’re supposed to they will keep appearing throughout your lifetime in different forms. My life lessons, I am convinced, are to do with relationships with people, feeling lonely, and not being dependent on other people to help me find happiness.
2 years ago one of my closest friends became very controlling, and when I wouldn’t do as she told me to she took it upon herself to spread lies about me. If I wasn’t with her I was against her, in her eyes. I laughed it off at first, but when those lies subsequently impacted my life and my family it felt like my world had fallen apart. I felt like I lost everything as my whole friendship group at the time either believed her, didn’t even defend me or question the lies, or worse still admitted they knew she was lying but said they didn’t want to cross her themselves. I sunk into a deep depression fueled by loneliness, humiliation and absolutely destroyed self-esteem. Everything I’d known, the people I spoke to daily and confided everything about my life in, my social life, the people my children thought of as family; all just gone. And I had to not only get through the depression it brought on, but I had to then pick myself up and go through a massive period of anxiety and loneliness and literally survive that day by day while working, running a family and dealing with the side-effects of the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs I had eagerly sought out as a quick fix. But from that whole episode I eventually grew. And now I look back I realise these type of situations have presented themselves throughout my life, albeit in much less damaging forms; but all the same I never took note. Then finally the universe could take no more of me bypassing and dodging the lessons laid out for me, and it slapped me round the face and screamed, “Wake up once and for all and sort yourself out!” So these are the lessons I have learnt in 2018 that have made me a better person, and in some cases proud of the person I’ve grown into and how I’ve dealt with my knocks:-
Don’t over invest yourself in people – find a balance.
I was that person that never said no to an invite, that took it upon myself to be the person to fix someone when they fell apart, that had other people and their problems on my mind all the time. I invested everything in my friends, thinking that’s what would lead to happiness, to have a group of people, a family I’d sought out myself, that would in turn pick me up when I needed them. During my worst days none of those people were there, nor did they care. And as a result of having to deal with that reality I have much more of a balance now in my relationships. I don’t invest everything in one group of friends. I don’t even invest all my friendships in this little village that I live in. I purposely spread myself around and say no to some things that don’t serve me, knowing I don’t need to fear losing that relationship if they’re real friends. I also have a better mix of friends from all walks of life now. I don’t ignore the friends that are hard to pin down in exchange for the friendships that are easy and always available 24-7. But most importantly I’ve not let my previous bad experiences of friendship scar me. I will still be there for people if they need me. I just accept that I can offer help and then leave them to it. I don’t worry as much about people, but I’m still going to be there if they ask me themselves for help.
Keep your dignity at all times. Even if it doesn’t get you anywhere, you can at least live with your conscience.
When everything fell apart I was well aware of who had been told what and by whom, but I refused to follow that person around correcting my side of the story. I’ve never told mutual friends what to believe or even what actually happened. And some people that know the truth think I’m absolutely mad and that I should have forwarded text messages proving my innocence to people that didn’t believe in me. But I stood by what felt right to me, and not only did I feel it was better to lose anybody that listened to someone else’s lies, but I also recognised if I could influence them too they really weren’t worth having in my life. And that was hard because when you’re at your loneliest it’s challenging not to accept the dregs of life and have some crappy two-faced friends over absolutely nobody at all. But I stood firm and lost everything to start from scratch with the hope of a better tribe one day. And even when other people came to me eventually saying they’d experienced the same issues with this girl, I secretly jumped for joy inside, but refrained from spilling out my whole story and instead just said, “Yes, that’s what I experienced with her too.” And it felt so much better for this girl to have had her comeuppance from genuinely continuing her behaviour than for me to spread rumours back about her and influencing events myself.
Sometimes people disappoint you, but maybe they were only here to set you on a path, not to be with you on your whole journey.
I believe in forgiveness if only to free myself, but I’ve learnt to forgive from afar. I believe that whilst I was better keeping away from these people, that they were an integral part in my growth and have genuinely put me into a situation that has ultimately made me a better person. I now know my values, I am very aware of my own intentions, and I know what kind of person I want to be and what I want to surround myself with. So many people go through life in a dream, just following their emotions and never questioning their own or other people’s behaviour accurately, if at all. I feel fully awake to life now, and for that I am very grateful for everything that happened. In fact when I look back I would hate to have continued in that bubble of thinking I was surrounded by good people that were genuine friends. I’m grateful for that period of depression and loneliness because it taught me to value genuine people and to value the time I now have in my own company. In fact when I realised being alone wasn’t the thing I feared it was, and that was a real game changer.
There’s no right or wrong way to deal with a situation, as long as you learn lessons from it you’ve done the right thing.
There were so many different ways I could have dealt with the situation I ended up in. But there’s no point in thinking, “What if I’d just done what she’d told me? What if I’d have defended myself more? What if I’d have turned a blind eye to the friends that let me down and pretended I’d not seen or heard their behaviour?” I actually truly believe I would have ended up in the exact same position, just maybe years later, because that was what I was always destined to deal with. So there’s no point in going over ‘what ifs’. I need to just deal with where I am today, because today is all there really is.
Most things people do is out of a need to be loved, even if their actions hurt people. If needs be, give them the love back from afar, but forgive and hope they find the love they’re seeking whilst you move on to better things.
This was a real important lesson in forgiveness. I sat one night and focused on losing the hate and anger, and I meditated on the sad stories I really knew of these girls and their backgrounds. I thought about the girl who started it that was so desperate to be liked because she’d never been liked throughout school and work. She’d found people she could influence and mistook their fear and her power for popularity. It was making her feel big right now, but there was a girl underneath all that that was terrified of going back to being unaccepted by people. I thought about the friends that turned a blind eye because they too were so terrified of not being part of a gang that they were scared to experience life without it. Their fear of not having any friends, no matter what they were like, outweighed any values they may have. And that fear must be terrible to be able to see someone purposely hurt another person and not have the courage to do something about it. I thought of the people that believed every word they heard because they can’t think for themselves and have subsequently lost a good friend in me for being so easily led. All these people have their own issues to different degrees and are having their lives dictated by those issues. They’re desperately battling their own fears and behaving in a way that they think will protect their own happiness. But their issues will come and bite them one day, and they will have that slap round the face that I had for ignoring an opportunity themselves to grow and be a better person. Most of us would take the easy option if we could, especially to avoid any sort of hurt or unhappiness. But I’m very grateful I’ve been through my slap round the face and come out the other side.
If you’ve tried and tried with a person and it doesn’t feel good, move on.
The ultimate lesson; that not everyone is meant to be in our lives. And part of working out if people are worth fighting for is in knowing when to let go. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone should have an opportunity to correct their behaviour if it’s hurting others. But if they can’t even see, or don’t even care if they’re causing hurt to another person, then it’s absolutely okay to walk away knowing that you at least tried to make it work.
So I’m actually looking forward to going into 2019 to continue putting a lot of my lessons into practice. What has this year taught you? Have you had a life lesson that you’ve beaten and grown from? Or are you even aware what your life lessons may be? Whatever your situation, and wherever you are in life, I hope 2019 is a year of positivity and happiness for you all.