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4 Lessons I Learned From Losing Friends

What About Your Friends?

Considering it's the year of the woman, we haven't been short of inspiring suggestions and tips on how to drop toxic friends or be even better ones. But what about those times when we're the ones who have actually been the friend that was toxic and didn't make the cut in our now ex-friend's "new year, new me" stance?

Yes, I've been that friend. While it's been a while since it's happened to me, I've been there. And sometimes there's this status quo that we're bad people because we didn't get the hint or didn't realize we were still growing. But in essence, while having a friend pull away from us is hurtful, there's certainly a lesson in it.

1.Do Some Self-Reflecting.

Whether she told you outright why she didn't want to be friends anymore, or you received a certain vibe that made it clear, that awkward first phase of no longer being friends is the perfect time to do a little self-reflecting. As hard as it is to admit, you could very well be the one who dropped the ball in the friendship. Whether it was not being supportive, or just not being there when she needed you the most, it's vital to look at things from her point of view. Sometimes we don't realize how we're treating other people, especially if we're going through things ourselves. We could be looking for someone to be there and support us, and not miss their multiple signals of them needing the same. That's the thing about being a friend, sometimes we have to be one even in those moments when we need it the most. I know that I've fallen short of this multiple times.

While those first moments of this lost friendship were me racking my brain about why she was "acting funny," sometimes it's better to just let it go. While we might wonder why she didn't just say something instead of cutting you off altogether, she really might have tried. That's where this self-reflecting comes in. Don't get me wrong. It's not about beating yourself up because you didn't answer your phone when she called or thinking of yourself as less than because you just weren't a good friend in some moments, it's really just about reflecting on what signals you missed and how you can become better for the friends that you do still have.

2.Forgive, Let Go, And Let God.

Having a friend ghost us is pretty painful, but you gotta forgive her sis. As tempting as it is to get those Twitter fingers rolling, this isn't the time to write subliminal messages on Facebook and Twitter (do people still do that?) trying to get her attention and share your side of the story. At the end of the day, people come into our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. Maybe the season of your friendship was over, and God had to show you that you weren't meant to be friends forever. As much as we want those life-long friendships we see in The Best Man, we have to be okay when that doesn't work out, even if it seemed like we didn't have anything to do with the decision and got the short end of the stick. You don't even have to let her know that you forgive her, unless the conversation comes up. If it doesn't, just make your own resolve within yourself that you're going to move forward.

3.Don’t Think You’re A Bad Person.

It's so easy to think that just because someone dropped us, we're not worthy of being a friend with anyone. You never know, she could have been going through her own thing and for whatever reason, showed her own true self to you. Just because you were the one who didn't do the ghosting doesn't mean that you're a terrible person. Even if it was because you were a bad friend, there's a lesson in it (some that might be best worked out in therapy). I've been known to be loyal to a fault. I've ignored those signs of "when someone shows you who they are believe them." Still, in those same situations, even knowing that the other person wasn't the healthiest friend for me, I never ghosted them. So when they did it to me, while it was hurtful, there was no way it was because I was a bad person. At times, you might be the friend who's dropped because your now ex-friend couldn't handle your success, or your new lifestyle if you've had a major change recently. Either way, you getting dropped doesn't mean that you're a bad person.

4.Let It Make You Better.

Once you get over the shock of losing your friend, and over the realization that it's very possible you were to blame, shake it off. I know, it sounds so minimal and so easy, yet it can make a big impact sis. Seriously. Sometimes we don't understand that losing a close friend is just as (and sometimes even more) painful than going through a breakup. But just like romantic relationships, even when you played a major part, it doesn't mean you're banned from ever having a relationship again. It just means you had to learn about yourself. Even though we might have thought we were beyond that lesson and are too old to be learning it, I completely understand being a late bloomer. At the end of day, you just have to put your life back together, reflect, and become a better person because of it. It's never too late to do that.

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Featured image via Giphy

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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