Horrible Best Friends: Exploring the relationship of a Toxic Friend
Have you ever looked at your best friend and wondered why you are friends with that person? Literally wonder what made you like them in the first place and wonder if you still like them and want them in your life? Did you also feel that little pang of guilt for feeling like that about someone who was supposed to be your best friend? To infinity and beyond? Always? Through thick and thin? I have, and boy did it feel horrible to think that way about my best friend.
We had met about 10 years ago in high school, I was 15 and she was 17. She was older and a little exciting to me because she was not like me at all. She had friends, she smoked cigarettes, she didn't care what people thought of her, she wasn't shy around the boys (if you know what I mean), and she was LOUD. It was like she was everything I wasn't, including her having fairly questionable morals whereas I had slightly more acceptable morals, having grown up in a loving Christian household. Have you ever seen that movie Beaches? Yeah, pretty much like that minus the sad dying in the end. During those 10 years I let her influence me a little, I let her into my life, we allowed each other to be best friends and share everything with each other. She would tell me when I was being too emotional or overreacting and I would do the same for her. I grew to love and trust her throughout the years.
There was one major thing with her, though, that I always knew but just accepted from her: She had PROBLEMS. Capital, italicize, and bold P-R-O-B-L-E-M-S. Being her best friend, I thought it was my responsibility to help her with her problems, those big problems that she felt so helpless with and wanted to change so badly. I cared so much about her that I was experiencing so much stress; it would actually cause me anxiety, trouble sleeping at night, and would interfere with my high school and college work. All of this pressure because I cared so much about my best friend and her living a good life. Yet, I was the only one trying to fix those problems or come up with ways to make them better. It seemed like she had no intention of trying to make her life better, or trying to make those things better on her. Think about it, when someone had a mental disorder like depression (me), anxiety (me), they do not sit there and complain about it without trying to change it or make it better for themselves. When someone does not have a job but does have bills to pay, they find a job and pay the damn bills! For someone like me, when someone treats you like you are nothing, you get them out of your life and leave them behind. I used to have the excuse for her that she had no one and she was still only in high school. Then it became that she was only 20, only 24, only 27. I ran out of “onlys” for excuses for my best friend.
After I went to college, things started to change for me. When I got back, I saw that she was still the same old person. Still smoking (not holding that against her) in her apartment where she sat all day, in the mess that had accumulated throughout that week or day, complaining about not having money to do things (yet not getting a job), being unable to hold down a job due to being lazy or being fired because of her attitude (despite several warnings from bosses and even me telling her there is a line), using and lying to other people (she always had an excuse), and NEVER taking help offered to her that would have made her life better. In the 10 years I have known her I saw her turn down at least 15 opportunities to do something with her life and ruin at least 5 others due to not wanting to try. Not wanting to try. I saw this and asked myself, Who doesn't want to try to make their life better when it is going awry? I started seeing all the things about her that actually made her a bad person. Probably the things that had been there all along that my 15 year old brain decided it didn't care about. Things that my 24 year old brain knew I didn't like around myself. Things I clearly knew I had purposely pushed out of my life previous to her because I knew they were not something I wanted in my life. With all of this, I also had myself to think of. Because of all the stress she was causing me, it took a large toll on my mind and my spirit. I was putting myself out there for her to try and help and be there for her, and she just took and took it from me. Don’t get me wrong, she dealt with some of that from me too, but it was rarely ever the same thing twice. With her, it was always the same 4 things over and over again: I hate my life. I don’t love my boyfriend. I don’t have anywhere else to go. I need to get a job so I can have money. Never any changes. In 10 years.
Of course, having given her the label of “Best Friend” for the past 10 years, I had a very hard time having these thoughts about her, and realizing that I did not want her in my life after all. There was not going to be a “to infinity and beyond” in this friendship and I was admitting it after 10 years and SO much drama. I felt guilty for a while, but then one of my other friends said something to me that made me feel okay about it. She shared a piece of advice someone close to her shared with her: She said everyone should take a look at who their friends are every 5 years or so, and weed out those who you have outgrown. Then I realized that I am not the same person I was when I was 15. People change and evolve because we HAVE to in order to grow and have new experiences in life. It is NOT a bad thing to realize who is holding you back, who is years behind, and who is there to enrich your life (as well as you doing the same for their life). There comes a time when things that were once acceptable, are no longer. Sometimes a friendship is kind of like a mini skirt; it does not go well in later years.