On My Friendships, Specifically

I have burned and rebuilt enough bridges to have learned from those experiences.

I have had a lot of unequal relationships. So-called friends have disregarded me, lied to me, stolen from me, and used me. I was not appreciated or supported. I did not get the same kind of love and energy that I gave. Even friends who meant well would sometimes hurt me. Yet, I would remain their friend. I was a good — no — I am a great friend! But I am not a perfect person, and I’ve failed as a friend, too.

I failed to communicate. I didn’t divulge and I didn’t listen. I didn’t acknowledge how I may have made people feel. Especially in situations where I’ve felt mistreated myself. I lashed out in response to feelings I never expressed. In some ways, I punished people for not recognizing that they hurt me. I expected people to know what they were doing wrong and change their behavior. I didn’t like hearing I was wrong, when they were wrong, too. I didn’t want to take the blame for things we were both guilty of.

Feeling hurt was not the mistake. Acting like I didn’t feel that way was. Avoiding confrontation and harboring animosity was. Feeling like I was the only one allowed to feel a certain way was. I didn’t see that I could still hurt a person who had hurt me. I not only failed to communicate, I failed to recognize they might also not be communicating with me.

Falling out with friends has taught me a lot. Reconciling has taught me even more.

I’ve had to acknowledge where I was wrong. I’ve had to take responsibility for my role in how things played out. I’ve had to be receptive to criticism; I’ve had to have my shortcomings exposed. I’ve had to take accountability for any suffering I’ve caused. I’ve had to confront people. I’ve had to be vulnerable. I’ve had to be honest and demand honesty in return.

I’ve learned to take the hits when they come. It is inevitable that I will do something that someone will misconstrue. Despite my intentions, I will fuck up and hurt someone. But I won’t fight them. I will accept my shit and try to work on not repeating my mistakes. I will continue to scrutinize my actions and end any hurtful behavior.

Your $0.02

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