This blog is Part 1, going into the event that brought everything up to the surface, and then the backstory as to why this has been building up for years. Part 2, linked here, will be on why it is necessary to cut ties from toxic friendships. You can listen to the whole story right now in Episode 46 of the podcast linked above. Sound good? Great, let’s do this!
It was a bright Sunday morning when I was still on a good 6 am routine. We had just gotten to the park to go for our morning walk when I checked my text messages. My best friend from high school had sent me a series of screen shots and texts that had spelled out the events of the night before that I of course hadn’t seen, as I was asleep by 9 pm due to aforementioned 6 am routine. From what I deduced from her messages was that a girl I had considered my best friend IN high school had attempted to call me out on social media but had later deleted the post before I could see it at 6 in the morning. She had called me out by name and blamed me for an altercation that she had with my mother the night before. By altercation, I mean my mother saying something to her that was either a. blown out of proportion, b. taken way too seriously, or c. rude as hell. I guess we will never exactly know. But either way, after the altercation between my ex-friend and my mother occurred, said ex-friend took to social media to drag me into it and make a feeble attempt to slander my name. I spent all of Sunday, Monday AND Tuesday attempting to get ahold of my ex-friend with no success. I was able to contact her mother, whom I considered at one point to be like a mother to my own self. During my series of conversations with her mom, I came to the realization that my ex-friend is still the same toxic person today that she was during the ending slope of our friendship. This realization made me stop and ask myself why I cared so much to smooth things over with her, to hear her side of the story, to help her to the conclusion that she is way too old to be posting shit like that on social media. I had to once again make the conscious decision to cut her out of my life, but this time for good. I never did get ahold of my ex-friend. I never did get to have a long overdue conversation with her. I never even got a ‘text read’ notification. Oh well, once toxic – always toxic.
Some History and Background
In High school I was insecure, that’s no new news. I had gorgeous friends and that didn’t really help my insecurity, also no new news. But what I’ve never really talked about is how toxic of a friendship that I was in for most of high school and early college. We hear a lot about toxic relationships, and how they scar us, but toxic friendships can be just as hurtful if not more so. It’s easier to recognize a toxic romantic partner and to leave them, than it is to recognize a toxic friend. A toxic friend can be mistaken as someone who is ‘brutally honest’ when they tell you that you shouldn’t wear leggings because you’re over 130 pounds, or that they are ‘just looking out for you’ when they tell you to give up your passions because you’re not that good at them. And yes, these were just the tip of the iceberg of things I was told on a daily basis by my best friend.
Now, no one is their best self in high school, so I do give her a bit of grace. At the time, I allowed her some wiggle room and cut her a break far too often, letting most of the hurtful and snide things that she said roll off my back for many years. I did this because I thought that I needed her in my life. I thought that if I lost her, I would lose everyone else. She had become so ingrained in my life, as many best friends do, that it felt like my whole existence would be ripped away from me in a second if I went against her.
Then I left for college, and as miles separated us physically, an emotional separation began to form. Because I was no longer in her line of sight, I was no longer on her list of priorities, not that I was ever even high up on that list. Days would pass with my texts and calls going unanswered, until I would be awakened at 2 am with a crying phone call that only I could talk her down from. These phone calls soon became the only connection we would have for weeks. When I would come home for a visit, she would barely make time for me, instead dragging me along to a party so that she could disappear for hours. It wasn’t until my birthday that I noticed the pattern. I had ditched the birthday plans I had made with my college friends to come home and throw myself a party so that she could be there, or rather WOULD be there. She spent an hour with me getting ready for the party and whatnot, before she said that she needed to go meet someone really quickly. She left to never return. An hour went by, then two, and my calls would go unanswered. No one showed up to my house, not a single person. When I asked my other friends where they were at, they said that they were told the party was cancelled in favor of another girl’s party that was going on. When I scoured social media to see who all was at the other party, there she was, my friend. I cried a lot that night, but never had the guts to say anything to her.
A year and a half later, our friendship was well on its way downhill. I was at my wit’s end after multiple nights of being dragged into situations that I wasn’t comfortable in, including but not limited to drug dens, weird men, and sleeping in my car when she locked me out of her apartment. Every time I hung out with her it was something new that I couldn’t believe a friend would do to a friend, and every time I made excuses for her. She’s having a tough time, I would say. She needs me, I would think. I grew further and further apart from her, staying her friend because I thought I owed her loyalty or that she needed a true friend like me.
At the same time, I was making friends in college and forming deeper friendships with the few girls I kept in touch with from high school. These girls treated me the way I deserved to be treated. They genuinely liked me, my personality, and took interest in my interests. We were on the same wavelength and had similar goals. I was building friendships based upon empowerment and shared interests, not just because we went to the same school and saw each other every day. So I began to naturally drift away from a friendship that I didn’t feel served me any longer. The closer I got to like-minded people, the further I felt from the person who was no longer on my same path.
The thing about growing up is that not everyone does it at the same rate. At 21, some of us are partying and only worried about getting by, while some of us are investing in a future and settling into a groove. I can’t really say that one is better than the other, as both stages of life I believe are necessary, but it’s hard to be in one stage of life when those around you are in the other. I think it’s good to have people around you that are in a variety of life stages, but only if their friendships can continue to serve you and enrich you in some way.
This was not the case with my old friend. Maybe our friendship was doomed from the beginning, tainted by my meekness and our combined high-school-age insecurities. Maybe it was just the natural course of action for a friendship to grow apart when one half moves miles away. Whatever the case may be, I needed to make a conscious uncoupling. I needed to cut ties with her and the turned-toxic friendship.
I didn’t know how I would do this, how I would separate myself. I couldn’t knowingly hurt her feelings, and I honestly just wanted to drift away. But then something big happened, and I saw my way out. She had gotten herself mixed up with a group of girls whose only goals it seemed were to get hammered daily and fight with other girls about hot boys. One girl in this group had taken to fighting with the third of my core group of friends from home, which put my best friend in a weird spot where she would constantly be jumping back and forth in her loyalties. Eventually it all blew up in her face. I got a call in the early morning that she had a hand somehow in the vandalization of our other friend’s property. No one was sure what had exactly happened, but it was confirmed that she was at the very least at the scene of the crime. When I reached out to my supposed best friend to get her side of the story, I got radio silence, and when I did hear from her days later – Deny. Deny. Deny.
This was my chance, my way out, and I took it. I told her I couldn’t be her friend anymore, not with the dangerous path that she was hurtling herself down. I had to cut ties with her.
Mutual friends of our’s said that this was all just temporary. They said that we would be back soon as if nothing had happened. But no. My final straw occurred in 2016 and I can count the number of interactions we’ve had since with my ten fingers.
So what can I say about how I felt after I cut ties with a toxic friendship? I felt lighter instantly. Sure, I was sad about losing a friendship that I had had for years. I was nervous about what she might do or what she might say. But no negative feelings were heavy enough to weigh down the lightness that I felt. I was no longer burdened by a person who didn’t make me feel good about myself, and a friendship that could’ve been detrimental to my future.
To this day I still have moments of regret. I think maybe I should’ve stayed when I hear that she isn’t doing well. I think maybe I should’ve stayed when I wish I could celebrate an accomplishment she mad. I think maybe I should’ve stayed when I’m reminded that the friendship wasn’t entirely bad. But for every moment of regret, I remember the lightness I felt when I made the decision to cut ties. I remember the weight that was lifted once I realized that I no longer would allow her to take up all of my energy. I remember how much I’ve grown since and think about how much of my growth wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t left her behind. I simply wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I had stayed her friend.
How I Cut Ties is available here!