Are your friends really your friends?

I have had a question circulating in my mind very recently. Are my friends really my friends. You see I have had some really bad friendships in my life, of people who were never really true to me, so I’ve always kept people at a distance.
I’m the type of person that when I love, I love hard. And because of that I often got hurt. I let people in and let people get close to me who didn’t deserve to be there. I trusted people that didn’t deserve my trust. I realized that I was carrying around all this hurt and pain and keeping people at a distance. I didn’t like that I was doing this, because this wasn’t who I was. I wasn’t a person who operated from pain first, I was a woman who operated from love first before all else. But that love had caused me pain, so what was there to do.
When I saw that this was the case, that I was operating from pain first, keeping people at a distance – so they couldn’t hurt me, I knew this had to change. I wanted this to change. So I did. I started healing the hurt and pain that I had. I started to notice that not everyone wanted to hurt me. I started to realize that some people were genuine. As I began to heal and find evidence of people who were genuine and cared for one another, my circle began to shift. I found women that truly cared for other women. Women who weren’t threatened by women that were in the same, similar or completely different careers. Women who wanted the success of others as much as their own. This was all new to me. I thought I made it… finally!
Then a few weeks ago, it all came crashing down. The realization that even some of these women who claimed to be there, empower women and want to lift each other up was false.
And it broke me.
There was women who I received and saw the warning signs for but I ignored them. I turned a blind eye and acted like I didn’t see their behaviour, even making excuses for it. And when they were called out, I justified it – their brokenness speaking to me and not wanting to judge another person.
So there I was stuck and confused. I could either keep people at a distance never letting anyone truly close to me because no one could get through the way I had up or let them in potentially getting hurt again. Was there a happy medium? How could I honour the woman inside of me by not shutting myself down completely?
Here’s what I came up with.
Just because someone comes into your life doesn’t mean that you have to let them in fully but it also doesn’t mean that you have to shut them out either. This was what I had to and still have to practice fully. You can let people in, without fully letting them in until they have proven themselves worthy of being there. Get to know them; openly, honestly and genuinely. Look at their actions and how they treat others. You will learn a lot about people in the ways that they treat others. Because they may be nice to you just for the sake of being nice to you. They may be nice to you because they see something they can get out of a relationship with you. They may be nice to you because you’re the new shiny object, until you’re not. Have a list of criteria that people need to meet before they enter your fold and no matter how long it takes to discover, keep them at a distance.
Always examine your current and new relationships. Are there things that are taking place in the relationship that you tolerating or settling for? Often we don’t realize and aren’t aware that we are settling, so when something bothers you examine it. It may be uncomfortable because you may realize that the friends you thought were yours aren’t actually. So get uncomfortable and look at them, openly and honestly. Then call it out. Speak out on it. It’s not your responsibility to coddle your relationships. If there’s something taking place that you don’t like or makes you even a little bit uncomfortable, it’s unacceptable.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be a hard ass, but this does mean that you do need to have boundaries. And having boundaries is OK
. These aren’t the type of boundaries I had and explained above, that are concrete barricades not letting people in.These are the boundaries that while still letting people in keep us and our hearts protected.
Our circle of friends is sacred and we need to be careful about who we allow into them. As a last tip I leave you with this. Ask yourself honestly if this person/people are honouring you and your growth? If the answer is no, then you need to respectfully move on.
I hope this has served you on your journey. As a recap:
Get to know people who you’d like to be friends with openly, honestly and genuinely.Have a list of criteria for your friendships that people need to meet.Examine your current and new friendships.Speak out on the things that either bother you or make you feel uncomfortable.Ask yourself if this person is honouring you and your growth.
Photo by Ryan Dam on Unsplash

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