What is our strange obsession with needing other people to like us? Of keeping friendships that are one-sided or simply meh? Why do we determine our worth or popularity based on our number of friends? There is no bigger time suck than maintaining friendships that don’t (as our good friend Marie Kondo says) “spark joy”. This year I realized, I do not have time to maintain all of these things. It’s time to do some cleaning- if a relationship doesn’t bring me complete and utter joy, it’s going to get phased out.
If a relationship doesn’t bring me complete and utter joy, it’s going to get phased out.
I’ve never been a doormat friend. If someone treats me poorly or demands way too much from me, I don’t make time for that person. It’s that simple. However what about those friendships where we were really close at one point and then our lives started to go different directions? What about those relationships I feel like I need to have because we are related, or have close mutual friends? Those are the areas that I struggle to separate myself from. I have to continually remind myself that I do not OWE anyone my time. My time is one of the most precious gifts I could honestly give someone at this stage in my life. If I barely have time for myself, why would I waste it on something that is not spark joy?
This process of “cleaning house” started last year when I knew something had to give. In order to schedule time for myself I couldn’t continue maintaining so many friendships and relationships. The friendships where I was the one always making the plans fell off quite easily and with little resistance. The success and freedom I found in this inspired me to dig deeper. Who was worthy of my precious time? I want energy spent with friends to trigger excitement, not the feeling of “something I have to do”. Making a conscious effort around what new friendships made sense for me was also important. All relationships in my life needed to spark joy- whether they be new or old. I felt a sense of freedom that I hadn’t in years. Why had I been so hesitant to treat myself the way I treat all my friends? When I struggled, why wasn’t I dropping everything to give MYSELF what I needed like I would with a friendship? That’s not selfish, it’s self care and it’s absolutely necessary.
The rules I had set for myself were tested in April when I received an email from my Grandma asking me to come over for dinner. I’d been dreading this day, because she had done some very hurtful things when my dad passed away. While toxic red flags were flying all over the place I ignored them, because she was family. I had to make a gut wrenching decision. Write her and let her know all of the things she had done that hurt me and ask for an apology? Or continue to pretend like nothing had happened and make excuses for her? I thought about how I was modeling to Thea what a healthy relationship consists of through my actions, so I wrote a long and honest email. I didn’t throw blame, I just shared how I felt. I listed what I needed in order to continue to have a relationship as it was “important for me to make sure all of my relationships are honest and healthy”. I told her I loved her and wanted a relationship. That was 88 days ago, and I never got a response. Why had I wasted years of my life trying to force a relationship with someone simply because they were blood?
Do I feel like an asshole sometimes? Yes. Being honest isn’t always sunshine and roses, and it takes a lot of nerve for someone to ask another person to be their friend. I feel bad when I have to genuinely say, “you know what, you are awesome, but I just do not have time”. If I can’t give them what I need to in order to be a good friend the relationship is going to be one sided and unhealthy. It’s not fair of me to do that. The friends that have “survived the cut” know that my life is crazy. They are the ones that I have a chemistry and connection with. They make me laugh out loud with the most perfectly selected gif and we can chat for hours with no effort. We can bond over Instagram messages and getting drinks together once every 4 months. I’ve got dear friends I haven’t seen in person in over a year. And that’s how it needs to be right now, because life is batshit crazy. They know they are loved. And they know that it’s nothing personal when I forget to text them back. What friendships look like for me now since adding a kid into the mix is very different than my pre-mom days.
What aspect of your life is taking up way more of your time than you should be allowing? Do you have friendships that you are maintaining simply out of habit? It’s easy to get rid of things that we know are toxic, but it’s not as easy to get rid of things that we enjoy but don’t trigger pure delight. Material things are not the only items that should spark joy in order to stay in our lives. Do yourself a favor and do a full audit of each area. You may surprise yourself and learn a lot in the process.