Recognizing Red Flags
In case you need to be reminded today- YOU DESERVE EQUAL LOVE AND EQUAL RESPECT.
You deserve to have reciprocal, beautiful and supportive friends and loved ones. I find it all too common for a lot of people to find themselves as one half of an imbalanced and somewhat toxic relationship.
For a while it seems easier just to put up with it, think of it as a rough patch, but to normalize that kind of behavior, you are letting the other person take a piece of you. That is the thing, we as people strive to loved and feel like part of a team. To do that, more often then not we tear out pieces of ourselves over time so that we become idealized friends and loved ones to other people. When all we need to do is recognize that simply because we exist, we are enough to loved-as is.
I had a best friend who only after our friendship fell apart did I realize that she really was no friend to me at all. It was convenient for her to have as a friend because of the things I could give her. She needed a ride anywhere- She got it because I had a car and she didn’t. She wanted to meet up with a guy so her parents wouldn’t find out- By all means have free reign of my house. Want to go on some cool trips-please come along on my family vacations. Over time what started as a genuine friendship (or so I thought) turned into a dynamic where I felt only tolerated. I felt like I had to work extra hard in the latter half our relationship to even be included in our shared friend group that it didn’t make it fun - It was exhausting.
Then came the things she said, that were verbal jabs, disguised as jokes. She was the queen of the back-handed compliment. If I had done my hair that morning for school it was “your hair looks nice Bianca, but you could have put the same effort into doing your make-up.” She was also fond of the joke at my expense. One joke is burned into my memory- I had invited her and four other friends to Island’s of Adventure for my 15th birthday. We’d stay in this awesome suite and have special access to the rides. It was going to be a fun weekend. We get to the hotel we are staying at, they greet us with fruity tropical drinks and traditional leis. We all walk the lobby as my dad is getting us checked in and I trip (which is very normal for me but no less embarrassing when it happens in a hotel lobby full of people). My supposed best friend and another close friend turn around and laugh. Not just a chuckle that you couldn’t suppress in time, but body shaking, pointing and laughing. At the time I laughed with them too because I couldn’t fathom that they might be laughing *AT me instead of with me. Then they doubled down, I got up and the first thing to come out of ex-best friend’s mouth is “If God loved you he would have let you fall on the carpet.” I can’t even excuse that.
Because of the longevity of our friendship, I ignored all of the red flags that sprouted up between us. I equated longevity with love, but the length of time you know someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have earned mutual respect. They say hindsight is 20/20 and standing outside of that relationship now shows me just how much I killed myself trying to be accepted by someone who was never going to look at me as her equal.
She took a lot from me, but she unwittingly gave me just what I needed in the end. Severing that friendship showed me what I didn’t need in my social spaces. Reflecting on that relationship has led me to only seek out those who would lift me up, not tear me down. I have become keen on recognizing when a friendship or a relationship no longer serves me because of its toxic underbelly. Quality over quantity. If I had only 2 friends for the rest of my life I’d be okay with it because it saves me from undue hurt from others. I no longer give too much of myself for others who wouldn’t so much as lend out pieces of who they are in return.
I implore all of you to know your worth, to take inventory of your loved ones and see if your relationship is rooted in mutual love and respect. If someone makes fun of you, takes advantage of you, emotionally abuses you, intentionally harms you in any way with no effort to change that behavior, register those red flags and let go of that relationship. Wounds at some point have to get worse before they get better, so healing from those things won’t be fun. A part of me still misses her but then I realize I miss who she used to be. But letting go of that toxicity has allowed me to grow in insurmountable ways and for that, I am truly grateful.
Until next time readers…
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