I keep trying to write this post, but every time I do it just doesn’t feel right to put out there. It feels petty to talk about. I can’t condense the story enough to explain it properly, or express how deeply the events actually impacted me. And I keep questioning why this is such an important part of my life, yet I cannot write on it. So today I’m biting the bullet and just putting out whatever comes. And maybe I’ll expand on the whole story in the future if it’s relevant to do so. In fact it’s too big a subject in my life for me not expand at some point, as it’s impacted me in so many ways. And that subject is friendships; or rather, broken friendships.
And the reason why I’m ashamed to share how this has affected me so much, is because I’m nearly 40 and this shouldn’t happen at my age, surely? I’ve googled it many a lonely night for advice, and all I seem to find is websites telling me to talk to a teacher or adult. And that just reconfirms it to me, that this is something a child would get upset about, not a grown adult; a Mum with far bigger responsibilities to be thinking about! But it did happen to me, and I’m just going to put it out there; it’s one of the most difficult experiences I have ever gone through in my life. And I feel ashamed even saying those words when there’s people out there that have gone through really awful events in their life. So maybe I have led a blessed existence for this to be the worst thing to ever happen to me. Except I haven’t had a perfect life. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety all my adult life; probably even before; I just didn’t know how to label it as a child. And maybe that’s the reason why it has affected me so traumatically, because I do feel deeply and I do analyse everything and think the worst as I catastrophise and get overwhelmed by my thoughts. But on talking to another friend last week whose best friend of nearly 40 years has just completely changed, disowned her, and is actually quite nasty to her now, I realised we do grieve when friendships break down and it’s not been our choice for them to end or for things to change. We do take it to heart and ask ourselves where we went wrong. And it does affect our self-esteem as we fear it will happen again and put our guard up. As my friend quoted to me, “One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive,” a quote she’d actually just re-posted to facebook that day in an attempt to grab her ex-best friend’s attention!
I’ve recently joined a women’s networking group, which on paper should have filled me with fear, but something guided me to go. And in the first week we were asked what our experience of other women was. I started the discussion, which is very unlike me, and shared my hurt over a group of friends that had believed one narcissistical friend’s lies about me. Or rather I should be more accurate in saying they didn’t believe her at all, but they told me they knew what she was doing and didn’t want her to do it to them, so all but said they were abandoning me to save themselves. I told this group of strangers how it had led to my children having their own friends distance themselves as guided by their mothers, and as 4 and 6 year olds they had no comprehension as to why everyone they’d known their whole lives had just gone all of a sudden. And I couldn’t explain it to them either, because I couldn’t explain it to myself! I told of my anxiety of doing anything within our close knit village in case I bumped into any of them, or even worse the whole gang of them out together, carrying on like I’d never existed. And I told of how it had put this fear in me of women and how I must in future tone down my personality so as not to rub someone up the wrong way and inflict all this hurt on myself again. It had fundamentally changed me to the core. And what followed was other women in this networking group sharing their own fears of women, and similar experiences of maybe being too happy or being too friendly or kind, and just triggering someone to feel threatened by that, and the dramas that followed. And I felt immense relief at not feeling alone, and yet fascinated that we’d all still felt drawn to come to a group that was essentially about meeting other women and opening ourselves up and feeling vulnerable in front of each other.
This week I shared a new story with the group on how someone I thought was a friend had let me down badly. I said that I couldn’t carry on feeling like this with people, not knowing how to stop it happening to me. And the girl who ran the group, who is some kind of spiritual energy guru, just stared at me intently and told me I’d done absolutely nothing wrong to invite the kind of hurt I was feeling. Then she said that I was unbelievably strong. And I realised in that moment that yes, I am bloody strong. I’ve felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life these last 2 years. And yet here I was, sat with a bunch of strangers, crying and telling them all my innermost fears. And this woman was looking at me and literally reading me as unbelievably strong. And she really meant it. She wasn’t saying it just to make me feel better and be supportive. She could see it in my aura. She told me I was such a big energy that I will always attract this sort of thing because some people just can’t handle that type of energy and feel threatened by it, and that made sense to me and resonated with what I’d felt myself. I felt immense relief that someone understood me finally, and someone that barely knew me at all. And that’s when I realised we can have day to day people, and people we’ve known all our lives that just fill a space and do nothing more, and maybe eventually let us down and abandon us when we need them. Then you can meet your true tribe in the most unexpected of places. And you know, even if they’re not the sort of friends you’ll go on holiday with, you’ll grab a coffee with, that you’ll exchange Christmas presents with or ask to babysit your kids; you know that they get you more than anyone you’ve ever met. And they’re the people you need to meet to know there are good people in this world. They may only be in your life for a few weeks, months, or even years. But the impact they make, and the memories they leave your life with makes you realise it’s not women that are your problem at all, it’s just you haven’t found your true tribe yet. And I can guarantee that it’s totally worth continuing your search.