We have all heard that old saying, ‘Friends are the family that we choose to have.’ So why is it that we are still so inclined, as human beings, to surround ourselves with people who bring us down or make us anything less than happy?
Quite recently, amidst all the existing stress of university and work – as well as trying to find that life balance whereby I wasn’t spending all my waking hours in the library but also doing enough work to not feel guilty when I sat down for a cup of tea – I found out someone I regarded as a close friend and confidante, had completely betrayed my trust and had not only told a mutual friend about my eating disorder and problems with anxiety, but had also gone on and bitched about it to her behind my back. I can’t even begin to describe the crushing sense of betrayal that I felt in the moment I found out, and the fact that I had told this person so many things about my personal life that now could be anyone’s business, for all I know. On top of this, I was dealing with a man that – in hindsight – basically treated me like a toy he could play with every once in a while but didn’t really care about.
That’s that thing about hindsight, it’s shocking looking back on things you have done and choices you’ve made in your life and see so clearly why they were mistakes or the wrong thing to do.
With regards to the girl who broke my heart by completely betraying my trust in – to me at least – the worst way possible, I felt trapped. We have so many mutual friends, spend so much time together and do the same course at University, so the main thing I was thinking about was how awkward it would be if I mentioned anything and it caused any drama. My two best friends assured me that in this case, what I felt was most important- I had been wronged and this girl needed to be told that what she had done was completely out of order. However, feeling that I already had enough going on, I decided to forgive and not forget, so now I just know not to talk about anything or anyone in front of her or rant at her about anything that’s not going very well in my life or that I’m worried about so that she has no ammunition against me when she goes off on a bitching spree with other people. Not ideal, I know, but at least this way I can make a conscious effort to not spend any more time than need be with someone and I know to keep her at arm’s length; and to be honest, I won’t have to see her any more after we graduate, so a few months not saying certain things to a certain person isn’t too bad if I look at the long term.
The guy- this is something that has been playing out for close to a year now. When we first started dating, he made me feel amazing about myself – I guess at the time I felt like I was punching above my weight and felt so incredibly lucky to have someone like him give me attention and talk to me every day.
Back at the beginning of the year, after having seen each other for a couple of months and when I was beginning to develop some real feelings for him, I got what I like to call ‘ghosted.’ As in, he seemed to completely disappear off the face of the earth. I texted, called, and (embarrassingly) snapchatted him, but to no avail. The worst thing was, he is a member of the same gym as me, so we would constantly see each other either in the weights room or in fitness classes, but it was like I didn’t exist to him anymore. This both upset me and infuriated me at the same time. How dare someone just stop talking to me for no obvious reason or explanation? I was 21 at the time, and felt strongly that if someone was old enough to be a university student, go on dates with someone and make them feel good about themselves then they should have definitely been mature enough to at least end it properly if they didn’t see it going anywhere.
After silently fuming about this situation for a couple of weeks, being torn between taking the high road and not saying anything and just moving on or taking the other option to confront him, I felt the latter was what I needed to do, and I told him straight out that what he had done just hadn’t been fair.
His excuse? He does this all the time. Apparently, he goes through periods of time when he just doesn’t talk to people and becomes a hermit for a while. Me? I lapped it all up like a puppy dog.
He’s just a lost soul, I thought; Give him time and he’ll come round. We’re so good together.
The next six months became a blur of me going on a semester abroad for uni and therefore resigning myself to use the time to get over him, then speaking to him whenever he texted me, then going through the same cycle again when he began ignoring me for a few days at a time. This time though, the pain was almost unbearable- I was abroad, and could’t do anything to fix the situation.
I returned home, then he went off travelling for six weeks. Again, I came up with a plan to finally remove him from my life. I stopped following him on Facebook, I stopped replying to his snapchats, I only messaged when he asked me a question. Easy enough. Until he spoke to me on FaceTime one day, and got extremely angry at the fact that I had gone on a date with someone else. To me, this anger was so unjustified, how was it fair for him to mess me about for so long and then get angry when I was trying to move ahead with my life? But, silly little brain got in the way again and I fell for it. He told me he liked me and wanted to take me out when he got back from travelling, so I accepted, and waited for him to come home. Fast forward four months and nothing has moved forward. I felt attached to him, yet was expected not to feel any emotion if I was unhappy or frustrated at the situation because we weren’t technically together. My self esteem plummeted, I hated myself for letting him do this to me and hated myself even more because I thought he was doing it and getting away with it because I was weak. It just seemed like the circle would never end and I would never be happy, whether I was with him or not.
Two weeks ago, he came round to mine and I was looking at him, and realised that any emotion I had felt before had disappeared. I just felt indifferent. I honestly felt absolutely and utterly done with everything he was putting me through. And instead of letting him get away with everything, I told him straight.
‘In order for me to get better mentally, I need to be happy, and you’re nothing but a negative influence in my life right now.’
‘Wow, that’s so harsh,’ was his reply.
‘Nope, what’s harsh is being messed around for almost a year.’
And that was that.
No more calling me up in the middle of the night, no more stressing about what we were and where we were going. And to be honest, it felt incredible.
I look back and I wonder why I let myself be so controlled by someone who clearly was never going to treat me right, and why I allowed myself to become so angry and so heartbroken by someone when what they did said a heck of a lot more about them than it did me. Fair enough, I hadn’t wanted my issues being anyone else’s business, but to be fair, it shouldn’t change anyone’s perception of me as a person.
Having cut myself off from the guy – and made a self pact to not speak to the girl about any problems in the future- I felt like I could breathe again. My confidence grew a tiny bit, even if it was just because I had finally, finally done something for myself.
I’m not saying that all my other relationships and friendships currently are 100% and amazing, everyone has problems, and I never know, that instantaneous feeling of happiness and validation from someone else (whether it be truthful or not) could cloud my judgement one -or twice- again, but for now, at least I can breathe a bit easier and have two less things to worry about. I know I have friends who would never, ever do the same thing to me as that girl did, and I know deep down, no matter how bad I feel, that I will find someone who enjoys spending time with me to take me out more than twice in eleven months, so for now, that is what’s making me – and keeping me- happy!
If there’s anything I’ve learned, there are toxic people in every stage of life- and what they are is just that- toxic and a drain of emotion and energy, and in such a fast paced world where we barely even have time for ourselves anyway, why should we put up with it?