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Ted Trimmer: Moon Glade
While facilitating after-school groups for "at risk" island teens a few years back, I learned more about life, and about myself, than I ever expected. At 14 they were children. At 18 they were young adults; some even got their diplomas and went on to college or jobs. The kids might cut school sometimes, but they snuck BACK on campus to attend group. The rebel in me liked that, though I frowned officially for the requisite second. We ate, we did "ice breakers," we talked, AND we listened to each other too. Once in a while I took the kids on visualization journeys that they really enjoyed and asked for often. It was amazing to see them settle into a place of calm after they came bouncing into the art room that we used. Occasionally I would write something for them about issues that they were bringing up. These kids didn't exactly have a love of the written word, their complicated lives challenged them daily with more pressing matters than "book learning." The official reason that I was there: "HIV/Aids prevention," speaks only a part of it.
I was touched when the kids would show me creased and dog-eared letters or hand-outs that I had given them months before, and tell me that it meant something to them. I wrote with one eye to the "authorities" who might stop the group if we pushed too many boundaries, so I tried to keep it positive enough to read out loud in a vice principals office at 9am on a Monday. But I tried to share my meagre life-truths with them. In some ways, it was the most important writing I've ever done. When I bump into them today (rare, but small island, eh?) they are adults with lives, and I realize the passing of time as only parents do. They are excited to see me. But I'm MORE excited to see THEM! I know that I have accomplished something for Hawaii by being dependable and real with THEM. My gratitude for this only grows with the years. Here is a piece called: "Friend Divorce." I never realized while writing it for da kids what a relevant and helpful reminder it would become in my own life. . .
There will always be meanies and idiots out there trying to share their hurts and resentments with you. They have many clever ways of getting their “hooks” into you. One thing they will try to do is make you feel guilty, or that you owe them something. But never forget: all relationships (outside of your family) are voluntary! Family relationships are special and may need special help, but there is no reason why you have to hang around non-relatives (or even relatives) who make you feel bad about yourself.
Sometimes when we are not confident, or we are lonely, we are glad to hang around with anyone who seems interested in us, or who will tolerate us. But this is not the best position to be in. By feeling, and acting, unworthy we are setting ourselves up to be treated badly. We may be willing to be the “doormat” for cool people, but that doesn’t make us cool – it makes us a doormat for “cool” people to walk over.
Every day people without good self-confidence search for “losers” to look down on. This might seem like it builds them up, but it just makes more meanies and idiots. Really feeling food about yourself doesn’t come from looking down on other people, belonging to the cool crowd, or from the things that we own. A secure person can kick it with whoever they want to at any given time.
Even after you find a friend, problems can and do pop up. It’s only natural. When you are unhappy with a friend don’t jump to assume that it’s their fault right away. First: just spend some quiet time thinking about what it is that you really want out of the relationship. Is your friend triggering some bad experience that you had before with someone else? Are you looking for somewhere to put uncomfortable feelings? Are they REALLY a lying scumbag? In the old days if things were going bad everyone would pick out a goat, the scapegoat, and blame it for all their problems. They would throw stones and drive it away hoping the bad luck and bad feelings would go away with it. Are you making your friend the scapegoat? Are they doing it to you? Only you can answer this for yourself – just take some time to think it through.
After you have taken the time to think first, pick a good time to talk openly with your friend about your true feelings. Don’t just throw them a bomb and run away! Choose a safe time and place and don’t accuse. Start slow. Check things out with each other. Be nice! This is (was?) your friend, after all. Remember, it’s not their job to please you! And it’s not your job to be a judge over your friend. (Or vice versa) Sometimes people just don’t enjoy being together, and that’s cool! They may be great for someone else if not for you. When you are not getting good things out of a friendship, then you just might need a “break” from each other. But sometimes, if you really can’t come to agreement, it might be kindest just to end it.
When you are sure that the chemistry cannot be fixed, a “friend divorce” is an option to consider. But DON”T jump into this drastic step without a lot of thought! It is most important that you are sure that this is what you want, and that you do it with kindness and class, For YOURSELF! That’s the kind of person that YOU want to be.
The best is when the other person doesn’t even know that you wanted to break up with them. You just start drifting away. All relationships are voluntary, remember?
It isn’t a good idea to throw mud on the other person, or yell at them about what a disappointment they’ve been to you. After all, friend divorce means that you are moving on. It’s the last scene in the movie, so don’t go over all your hurts. It’s too late for that. Now you need closure. Be polite and kind.
If you write them a letter, don’t send it right away and DON’T flame them online – that can come back to bite you in a BIG way! Look at your messages with “cool eyes” later and decide then. Writing about your feelings is always a great idea, sending it may not be. You can’t take back that “send” later!
Sure, move on! But do it with class. Friendship isn’t about winning. A friend divorce is always a bit sad even if it’s the best thing to do. If you are confident that you ARE doing the right thing, then you don’t need to convince others by “talking stink” about your ended friendship. You might even come to understand your part in the difficulties. This is called personal growth.
What builds the confidence to be this kind of “evolved” person? The answer, like the path, is different for each of us. But as long as we are looking to others to build us up we will never find it. Finding out who you REALLY are and WHAT you really want takes courage: the courage to look inside honestly.
As you patiently handle life’s challenges, big and small, and as you show true courage day-by-day, your confidence will grow, I promise. Satisfaction, and even joy, will find you when you consistently make good choices.
Lots of people are afraid to look inside, so they create dramas with heroes and villains. You don’t need to find an enemy to make yourself a HERO.