“About My Best Friend”
Growing up, everybody had that one friend that was their Ace-in-the-Hole, their Ride-or-Die BFF! I definitely had mine. Unfortunately, from a very young age I had learned all the wrong ideas of being socially acceptable. I developed the concept that being a friend meant having to push my own identity aside and become whatever kind of person they accepted as a “friend”. I put up with a lot of unnecessary drama, selfishness and blame just to call this person my best friend because I needed to be accepted by any means necessary.
Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up and being constantly compared to someone else? It’s no walk in the park. I took the heat for multiple situations, throwing myself under the bus to protect a friendship. I was looked upon as the bad influence for years and although she called me her best friend I was never treated like one. I believed being a true friend meant taking the fall, embracing a bad reputation, and being in the line of fire; because that’s what friendship was all about, at least to me. I did this for so long that it became a routine and a learned condition, I didn’t know any better. It made matters worse that our families were tight knit. I was damaging my own reputation to my family for the sake of having a title of best friend. Long term, I was reinforcing someone I was completely unlike yet being told to be more like her, if only they knew then what they still don’t know about her now.
As we got older and more friends were added to the social circle, there were plenty of times that I had to defend my BFF spot. I couldn’t grasp the concept that “my spot” should not have to be defended; rather a spot that has been well-earned and solidified. I found myself continuously having to prove my friendship when the loyalty was never reciprocated. She led, I followed. She liked, I liked. She hated, I hated. She got in trouble, I took the blame. When she would extract me from her life to be with other friends, I would wait. In those moments, I found my own friends. I did my own thing, too! I started coming out of my shell and started gradually becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
One thing I have learned in this walk of life is that in every situation there is a lesson to be learned. Opportunity gives you that one moment of clarity but you have to pay attention and recognize the situation for what it is. I put myself on the line for her, protected her even when she least deserved it. My downfall was that I confided in her every secret and deepest emotion and she used it against me. Even with everything I already knew about her and the consistencies of failing me as a friend, I still gave her 100% trust and allowed myself to be placed in unnecessary situations. She caused an altercation with another friend over a guy and let an unnecessary argument unfold. Classic mean-girl tactic. The whole time she stood there, grinning, borderline laughing and watched me crumble. I held back my anger like a fool because even at that eye-opening epiphany, I still felt the need to prove I was the better friend. When you are young and don’t have a handle on how to approach a situation, sometimes you freeze and let the moment take you instead of you taking on the moment. I should have punched her in the face, yet I took the high road and started evaluating my friendship.
For years, this friendship carried on exactly the same way. I kept consuming the blame for her shortfalls until finally I reached the end of my rope and gave up. When I needed her to be there for me, to be in the line of fire, to do her due diligence as my best friend, she failed. We went separate ways, separate religious views, separate complete lives! I was not her Maid of Honor; our kids don’t even know each other. There are no family barbeques together or play dates. No invitations to birthday parties or anniversaries. We never shared in any epic milestone moments in our lives and for all those years I felt absolutely cheated. It took me a long time to understand that in this life you will come across people in your life that really are not for you and will never take responsibility for their roles in your life. I’ve learned to let it go and welcome a much bigger picture that I took responsibility for and made my peace with it all.
Time is a gem. There’s no reset button, no do-overs, but it gives you valuable lessons to be learned. People come and go and it is completely acceptable. Never invalidate or be so dismissive when people show you what they are capable of. Be mindful of the company you keep. Those who you call “friend” can come into your life, masked as anything you need them to be and benefit from everything you are. So what about my best friend? I had none. But at least I was one.