This last year, many a tearful night was spent consoling a heartbroken girl (not me! That’s a different post!). Between Sir and I, a lot of advice was handed to our oldest daughter about friends – we gave our ideas of what a friend is, how a friend behaves, how conflict within friendship should be handled, and when all else fails – how to walk away.
We listened, we consoled, we got angry for her (sometimes at her). We agreed with her when we saw her friends in the wrong and we gently set her straight when we knew she was in the wrong.
We told her…
…real friends communicate.
…real friends are honest.
…real friends care enough to work it out.
…real friends feel bad when they’ve hurt you.
…real friends take ownership and they apologize (without all the ‘buts’ after).
…real friends forgive.
…real friends love.
…real friends are concerned when you are down.
…real friends don’t abandon.
…real friends don’t try to become you.
…real friends make lots of mistakes, but not the same ones repeatedly.
…real friends are there for you.
…real friends respect your feelings.
And then we told her, if her friends aren’t fitting with those things, they are not real friends.
There were so many days and nights of this… Sometimes days apart, sometimes months apart. She would acknowledge that yes, that’s how friends should be, but she kept giving these friends chances. Over and over, always ending in hurt and disappointment, dismay and disbelief.
Sir and I saw it all from the outside. It’s easier to see from there, you know. We saw our daughter making mistakes, but we also saw her trying to turn it around. We saw her “friends” repeatedly hurt her and treat her like she was nothing. It was clear to us they didn’t care about our daughter in the least. And we were frustrated and yeah, okay, pissed off that our daughter let them walk all over her. She let them treat her that way! For months, years.
It broke our hearts and I know it broke her spirit. We asked why she would continue to put herself through that. We implored her to walk away, let them go! Surely a little loneliness would be better than the repeated emotional beatings, better than knowing these girls don’t give a shit!? Her response?
She said she knew she should close the door to them, but she had shared all of her secrets, all of her life, all of herself with them for years, shouldn’t that mean something?! We heard over and over, how can they not care at all?! How can someone who promised to be your friend, and people you shared so much with, be so cold?! How can a best friend turn so easily toward hate?
Oh daughter, that is because they were never real friends! Real friends don’t do that! Real friends communicate. Duh.
Of course that’s what we said! That’s what we believe! We believe with all our hearts that every good relationship takes active, mindful work. Marriage, 24/7 D/s, friendship… They all take communication and understanding and attention.
Saying words is never enough. N.e.v.e.r.
If the relationship is important and valued, you must put in the time and the effort. You have to deal with the conflict. You need to talk it out. Ignoring and running away from problems doesn’t help. In fact, it makes it all so much worse.
And if only one person is willing to put in the work?? It. Will. Not. Work.
Period. End of story. No matter how much you shared. No matter how good the good was. If there’s no joint effort, it’s just not real.
So we told our daughter that. It was our mantra for months. Not so long ago, we finally got through! She stopped letting those girls in, stopped letting them hurt her. And she is better. So much better! Oh they are still assholes – to her face, behind her back. They still get snarky ALL OVER social media, posting things to make sure she doesn’t forget she is excluded. The funny thing is, though – they think they excluded her, but the truth is she just stopped chasing them. She stopped trying to fix it all. In the end, it doesn’t matter that she was the one that put an end to it. They are free to think what they want, whatever helps them sleep at night.
Though she’s doing better, our daughter still misses who she thought those friends were, what she thought they had, the good stuff. She gets sad (She has more feelings than even her mama does!), but ultimately I hope think she realizes she’s far better off being some bit lonely.
So what is the point of this droning post?
Fake friends are a self-esteem eraser – ain’t nobody got time for that!
Our daughter only has a few months of highschool left, and I hope she can enjoy them.
I hope she breathes.
I’ve told her that this shit doesn’t stop, even when you’re grown. I’ve told her to be careful who she trusts.
Maybe our family expects too much when people say they care. Maybe we expect honesty and that’s just too difficult and raw. Maybe we let the wrong people in. Maybe we want so badly to believe what people say, that we ignore what they do, ignore all the warnings.
I don’t know for sure. I do know that when I care, I try and I fight too hard and we’ve taught our kids the same.
I hope we learn to recognize who is worth the battle.
I hope we all breathe.
Running is so easy. I am thankful Sir taught me to never give up, to never run away from things that matter. And God help me, I still believe this: