because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A story of a toxic friendship and internal lion roars

‘Yes, well Laura, you see, you’re always upset by something, aren’t you?’ she spat.

It was after I explained to her that actually, what she’d said to me two days before, when we’d argued and I’d seemingly let it go, it had upset me. I used the word “disgusted”, actually. That what she’d said to me in anger had disgusted me.

I meant it. I’d made a decision she didn’t like, a decision about me, and my life, a decision that really had very little to do with her at all, one that made me unbelievably happy. I thought she’d be thrilled for me too. But her response was unexpectedly vicious.

She listed the shortcomings in my character, my relationships, even the lowest of the low, my family, as if that were her proof that I was wrong. She went right for the jugular, spewing irrelevant poison that I accepted as truth, because inexplicably I thought I deserved it. I reasoned that if her reaction were so strong, I must’ve really fucked up. She said these hurtful, horrible things with such confidence, face-to-face and later more, over email, that it made me doubt myself until I was convinced she was right.

But… she wasn’t. 

I’m all love hearts and flowers and peace and come as you are, at least as much as anyone can be when on this insane adventure of life, anyway, but when this girl was so mind-blowingly irrational I lost my temper. It took weeks of mulling it over before a truth rang loud and clear, stopping me as I walked across Waterloo Bridge:

I am the gatekeeper to my own integrity. I get to decide what I am, and what I am not. Simply because this girl said these things, it does not mean they are true.

Sit with that. That’s some motherfucking EMPOWERMENT right there: Simply because she said these things… it does not mean they are true.

It was my ah-ha! moment of absolute clarity: Bitch don’t know nuthin’.

She doesn’t get to tell me what or who I am.

And then I had another thought.

I should tell her she has upset me, because that’s braver than pretending I’m fine.

I thought that somehow, telling somebody you’ve upset me, you can’t treat me this way, took the blame off of myself and put it onto somebody else’s shoulders, but I’ve always sworn that I will forever take responsibility for me, myself, and I, because that’s what good people do. You can’t control others, but you can take total control of your own actions.

But, sometimes people can be shitty, and saying, I didn’t like that, that made me feel bad, takes an act of courage. It takes a strong person to make herself vulnerable at the mercy of another. I honestly just learnt that like, ten minutes ago. I thought we were all supposed to be act tough, but a loving life comes from the opposite. Self-love comes from learning what your boundaries are, and speaking out to uphold them. A loving friendship respects that.

When I explained to her, calmly and patiently and with shaking hands, that she’d hurt me, she didn’t care. That’s when she told me I’m always upset about something, and that’s when my inner superhero roared louder than a jungle elephant: STOP. DON’T EVEN FINISH THAT SENTENCE. YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT I AM.

I actually said that to her. And she didn’t like it. Because when you sell yourself as one cool cucumber, people can take advantage of that, and are surprised when eventually you stand up to their bullying behaviour.

I’m devastated. I truly, genuinely do not know what I did to make another human being, a friend, somebody I loved, so utterly consumed with continued rage. But somehow, right about the time I announced that I wouldn’t be staying in London, interestingly enough, we ended up co-creating a toxic, nasty relationship. A wrong turn here, and a misunderstanding there, I suppose. It meant that at 6.35 p.m. on an October Wednesday I broke up with my friend.

I was worried about saying that here, on this blog. Nice girls don’t dump their friends. I anticipated that you’d think me cold and callous, dear reader. I’ve drafted post after blog post, mainly to try and find the reason for her behaviour, and the role I played in it, through the medium I understand myself best: writing.

But I don’t understand. I cannot fully grasp what switched her from trusted confidant to outrageous bully so suddenly. It feels wonderful to finally invite her to fuck off, to stand tall as I say you don’t get to do this to me anymore. But mainly, it also feels terrifically sad.

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