Friends are awesome. Best friends? Even better. But once in a while, friends need to be extracted from your life like a dangerous cancer, and breaking up is seriously hard to do.
Just to be clear, before we jump into this post, I want you to know the women I’m with in these photos are my nearest and dearest friends. I am not breaking up with them, nor do I plan to in the near (or far) future. The friends I’m talking about are old friends, friends from childhood, friends I’ve known since childhood and never thought I’d outgrow or leave behind.
I grew up in an awesome family neighborhood in the late 1970s and ’80s. A lot of the moms were stay-at-home and all the kids went to the same church and same schools. We were a cohesive community, and many of the mothers in my neighborhood are as responsible for raising me as my own mom. Kids flowed in and out of each others’ homes all hours of the day, every day, and on Sunday we all scrubbed up and went to church together.
My friends from childhood were amazing. I ended up at a private school for junior high and high school, an hour away from my neighborhood friends and the local public schools, but they remained loyal and friendly, and I never felt like an outsider. I attended high school dances, football games, track meets, soccer games, and parties with my neighborhood friends. When I was in a play in the 8th grade, a group of my friends got together and came to watch my play with an armful of flowers. They came to soccer games and helped me plan for prom. We hung out on the weekends, went to movies, talked about boys. I felt completely supported, all the way around.
Friends didn’t start to get super tricky until I got to college. Some of my neighborhood friends went away to school with me, some didn’t, but I remained close with all of them. It wasn’t really until I was well into my 20’s when friendships started getting a little dicey. We all grow up, grow apart, change lifestyles and move in different directions. That’s normal. Most of the time drifting apart is no big deal, it’s not something to be celebrated or feared, it just is. But I’ve had to break up with a handful of friends because of destructive and bullying behavior. It’s hard to break up with friends. It sucks. It’s even harder to break up with friends you’ve known your whole. entire. life. But not breaking up with bad friends, with negativity and anger and harassment is worse. Destructive even. But the beautiful thing about ending destructive relationships is that you create room in your life for more beauty, more happy, more compatibility and understanding, and more love.
By shutting down the abuse, even though it will be hard (and it is very, very, very hard) you will end up with bigger and better and more amazing friendships. All the friends in my life now are supportive wonderful people with whom I would trust my everything. They’re my “move a body” friends, people I can call day or night to help me with anything I’d ever want or need, and if I was in a pinch and needed any of them to move a dead body, they would do it in the dark of night, no questions asked. That’s a reference to a Brené Brown talk I heard at a conference, in reference to her good friend Karen Walrond being willing to do any thing for Brené, at any time. We all need some move-a-body friends in our life, at least a small handful of them, to help us out when we struggle to find light and to share in our victories. Do it for yourself, if not for your friends.