|Me in the 7th Grade.|
I have always been a little socially awkward. So making friends was difficult for me. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. What's that saying, it's better to have a few good friends then a bunch of friends who don't really care about you. Well, somehow that ended up backwards and not in a good way. I'm not saying all my friends were horrible, because they weren't. I had a couple good friends, but the rest were crappy. I'm not talking about the occasional argument about something stupid, I'm talking malicious evil cruelness. My mind goes to an episode of Cold Case called The Sleepover. It's about a little girl named Rita Baxter who isn't popular, kinda nerdy but a nice girl. She ends up being murdered after a sleepover. She even asks her friend if it's a trick and the girl says no.
I know I have talked about her before but I feel like we need to talk to our kids and teach them that it's not ok to be treated horribly and then have them say sorry and do it again and again. They aren't just kids. They need to be held accountable for their actions and even their words. It's hard when your a kid and you just want to belong. It's hard because people are mean to you, usually for no reason. We need to teach our kids the warning signs that maybe that friend isn't really your friend at all. I am not saying to not teach forgiveness. It's an important thing to forgive our friends after they mess up. When it becomes a pattern, then it's time to say no more. It's really hard to let go of those you care about. Maybe even ignore it or forgive too freely. It's hard. It sucks. It's often lonely. It's not impossible, even when it feels like it is. I can tell you from personal experience, it hurts more to be treated like dirt than to be lonely.
I am not big on regrets because it makes me who I am today, however I wish I would have ended that cycle of abuse many years ago. Maybe if I was stronger, I would have. I know it sounds cliche but, with friends like her who needs enemies. I knew who didn't like me. There wasn't much I could do about it, but when your worst enemy is supposed to be your best friend, your confidant, your so called sista, it's devastating. If I could write her a letter today this is what I would say: (I am changing her name for privacy reasons) We will call her Gert.
I just wanted to write you a letter sharing something with you. After the years of constant abuse from you, I have been thinking. I am not sure why you felt like I was the perfect target for your cruel hatred. If you truly didn't like me that much, why didn't you just say so? Why didn't you just say hey, I don't like you, leave me alone. Why spend so much time pretending to be my best friend, if you hated me so much. I mean you must have hated me. I know that you shouldn't treat someone you care about like trash. Let me rephrase that and say you should never treat anyone like trash. Did you miss that lesson in kindergarten? What on earth did I ever do to you? You spent years upon years with me hanging out, why? What happened to you to where you felt the need to hurt someone so badly? You really vested a lot of time in to this disgusting cycle of abuse. I was taught growing up that you don't try and destroy people. Treating people with kindness and love is the best way to go. You my friend, didn't show me kindness of love.
When I lost my grandma, you thought of the most vile thing you could think of, and did it. This wasn't like oh I lost my grandma a week ago, you did this on the day she died. You knew what happened, heck we were living together. I mean what kind of person does that? Who does this after knowing how close I was with her. Did you lose your conscious? Do you just not care? I mean yes, it was 11 years ago today in fact but I am still wondering and pondering what you were doing. You claimed to be drunk or that it was a joke, but hun if you can't make good choices while you drink, maybe you shouldn't. I was never a perfect person but I didn't deserve that. I didn't deserve any of it. I was there for you always. I hadn't seen you for a while and when you called me one day, you know the one, I came right over and was there for you. Why did I do that, because that is what friends do. It's the right thing to do. It doesn't matter if it's just someone you know, you are there for people in their time of need.
While I am laying here resisting the urge to share all your dirty secrets with my readers, I won't stoop to that level. I am better than that. However, I am so glad that you are no longer in my life. I think that's the best thing for me. I have learned so much from our friendship. I learned what a real friend is, I have learned my own strength and I might have skinny arms but I am strong inside. I don't need to hurt others to feel good inside. I don't need to put down others to be strong. I don't need to feel like I am better than anyone to feel happy. I am perfectly happy being my weird and unique self.
We focus on teaching our children how to be a friend. It's time we focus on teaching them the warning signs of a toxic friend. It may save your child years of trauma and heartache.
A friend who does mean things to you is not your friend.
A friend who kicks you when your down is not your friend.
A friend who rips out your already broken heart is not your friend.
A friend who makes you feel like a loser is not your friend.
A friend who shares your secrets is not your friend.
A friend that repeatedly abuses you verbally or emotionally is not your friend.
A friend doesn't do something nasty and say it was just a joke.
A friend doesn't send a mob after you in person or through words.
None of those are what a friend is.
Kids know about bullies. They are so hyper aware of what makes a bully and maybe even who they are. Here's the thing about bullies, they can be tricky and sneaky. They can even pretend to be your best friend. They might even be good at it. They might be really convincing. They might even fool you too. Pay attention to your child's friends and how they treat them. Open up a dialog about their friends.
My bully my true bully was disguised as my best friend and I didn't even know it. I just wanted a friend to hang out with. I endured years and years of abuse.
Your child might think there is something wrong with them. They might think they deserve it or they are ugly, the truth is, there's something wrong with the friend, people, healthy good sane people don't walk around destroying others. They just don't do it. You don't see people hurting others for fun or because they are bored. True friends love and accept you for who you are, just the way you are.