Hard Lemonade: Toxic Friendships and How to Move On

If you clicked on this blog post, I assume that you have toxic friends. I’m so sorry that your friends are assholes.


Friendships can be one of the greatest blessings in life. These are people that you bond with, your kindred spirits, your bosom buddies. They make you feel strong and being around them gives you that extra confidence to accomplish pretty much anything. That, or they’ll be the ones who smack you right upside the head with the reality check you knew you actually needed. Regardless, they are there for you with perspective, love, respect and support. They’re probably your best cheerleaders and will drop anything to be there for you in a time of need.


At least, this is how we like to think friends should be. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Just like with any other area of our lives, friendships can be fraught with twists and turns that test our endurance.


These moments in life can be devasting. When friendships take a slide, it is completely exhausting. We’ve invested so much emotional energy into building those friendships, sometimes over a lifetime, that when things go wrong, the hurt is real.


I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this topic lately. I think it’s one that we can all identify with. Maybe the breakdown for you is with friends, or maybe it’s with family, or even colleagues, but let’s face it, relationships are hard, and we all struggle with them at times.


When friendships become toxic, we need to take a moment to feel the hurt, but then we need to move past it. Here are some of my internal Lemon thoughts that I wanted to share, just in case any of these ramblings help you. If you have any thoughts to add, please do comment below. Let’s help each other through these hard times!


THE DANGER OF CLIQUES

Remember in high school how there were always cliques? They were easily identified. The jocks, the cool kids, the nerds, the stoners, the whatevers. Thing is, cliques never really go away when you grow up. Today, we might call them “tribes”, or “mom’s groups”, or “work friends” or some other identifier.


Whatever we call them, adults are part of cliques, and in my interpretation, cliques are very often groups of individuals who are insecure. Cliques are known for excluding people. This gives people a sense of power and control but is ultimately hurtful to others. And if one member of the group starts to mix with people outside the clique, that leaves folks feeling threatened.


The thing is, being friends with new people does not mean that you’re no longer friends with your existing crew. If the fact that you are being nice to someone new is that threatening to your friends, chances are that your friendship was on shaky ground anyway.


WE ARE ALL INSECURE

We are all insecure. All of us. Even the most confident of individuals is insecure about something. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had someone be mean to them and tell them that they’re not enough, in their career, their looks, their parenting, their service, their cleanliness… It could go on forever.


So often people’s “confidence” is actually a mask for insecurity. And when folks are insecure, weird things happen. They start to listen to little voices in their heads that make mountains out of molehills (hellooooo queen of overthinking right here). Or, they start to judge others to build themselves up. Or, they actively try to take someone else down.


There’s nothing to be gained from this. The best we can do is to be upfront and acknowledge our own insecurities and recognize that others have them too. Then, we’re able to move forward in life with compassion and understanding instead of destruction and judgement. Kindness and understanding leads to a much happier place to live.


WE ARE RELUCTANT TO TRUST

Because we’ve all been hurt in our lives, we’re just naturally predisposed to not trust people. People are jerks. Like, SO MANY people are jerks. So, of course we’re not going to just trust each other. But that leads to a natural break down of friendships, doesn’t it? Here we are all insecure and we don’t trust anyone. Sounds like a great starting point for solid, stable, friendships, right?


Thing is, trust is not easily given. It must be earned and reinforced regularly. And with friendships and family, we can often take these relationships for granted, so things like trust kind of erode over time. So, we must maintain our relationships, and that really just comes down to communication.




COMMUNICATE WHEN THINGS ARE HARD

When things get hard and we’re insecure and filled with mistrust, it’s sooooo easy to retreat and try to analyze what’s going on with pretty much anyone other than the person you actually should be taking to.


That doesn’t help anything. This is just gossip leading to speculation and judgment.

We’re all bad at communicating. It can be super hard to confront someone when there’s an issue on the table. It leaves us vulnerable and open to hurt. But we need to learn to deal with things head on instead of letting things fester, get worse. We’ll be emotionally spent before we even get to the conversation we need to have unless we just deal with things.


OUR PRIORITIES ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING

We are all growing and changing every single day.

Chances are high that you and your friends are reaching milestones in your lives at different times. Maybe your priority today is your career while others are prioritizing having children. Or maybe you’re dealing with aging parents, while others are facing health issues. More likely, we’re all dealing with multiple of these things.


We’re all just piloting back and forth through life, finding the thing to make the priority of day or the season in life. We’re going to be in different places in our lives and it can be hard to understand where someone is at when you’re at a much different place. But we must. We must not guilt people for placing their attentions where they feel they need to.


WE NEED UNDERSTANDING IN ABSENCE

The pace of life is moving faster than it ever has before, and the pressure to do more and be more is intense.


When life gets really busy – and let’s face it we’re ALL really busy – friendships often get pushed to the side. We’re all faced with a limit in hours in a day, in emotional energy, in physical energy. I don’t know about you, but you could find me a most any point in a day and my state of mind will be “what is the fire that I’m putting out in THIS moment” because another one is sure to come along shortly.


Not getting together, sending texts, making calls sure does not mean that there isn’t care, love, thought.


If I like your post, I’m thinking about you. If I go to our favourite café, I’m thinking about you. If I hear that song we used to sing along to on road trips, I’m thinking about you. I’ll be out shopping, will see something, and immediately will think “omg this is perfect for Lulu.”


Chances are, if you’re my friend you enter my brain multiple times a day.


I might not be able to contact you because I’m working extra-long hours on a project, or I’m fighting with my husband, or I’m soothing a baby to sleep, or I’m walking the dogs, or I’m cooking dinner, or I’m doing laundry, or I’m watching a movie with my hubby and greasy hair and pyjamas and junk food because I really need/want to. But I’m thinking about you and can’t wait until that next time we’re hanging out again.


SOMETIMES WE NEED TO MOVE ON

Sometimes friendship get to the point of no return. Maybe they always were toxic and we just never recognized it, or maybe you just grew apart. Regardless, there comes a time when the only option is to move on.


There comes a time when it is hard to make time to focus on nonsense. I believe in putting the work in, in having the hard conversations, in prioritizing friendships.I also believe that there are values as well as emotional health that must be upheld.


We can’t allow ourselves to be hurt or taken advantage of in order to not hurt someone’s feelings. Stand by what you know is right.


Walking away from a relationship is hard. Put everything into it so that if this is the decision that you need to make, you can do so feeling good about your efforts and your decision. Try not to be angry or bitter. Do so with the most respect you can. Maintain your integrity throughout.


Then walk away and learn from that experience what you can and invest your energies and attention in those relationships and activities that bring you joy. Life is way too short to waste our energy on toxic people.


Whew.

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. Thanks for reading, thanks for your interest, your support, your care.


I know this blog post isn’t going to be a magic game changer. We can’t control someone else’s behaviour. We can’t “fix” anyone.


But we can choose where we invest our energy and time. I’m going to do that with those amazing people in my life where we lift each other up and build authentic friendships filled with love, care, compassion and respect. If you want to join us, we’ll welcome you in. It’s awesome over here.



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