So I’m a little behind with this post as most people have already gone back to school and I was planning on getting it done beforehand but of course, life got in the way and I didn’t have the chance to do more than draft it out.
In this post I want to highlight something that I think is really important and something we don’t seem to talk about enough; Toxic Friendships.
This is a bit of a story time post and the story is provided by a friend of mine who had a really bad experience with a toxic friend while at school. Now I’ve omitted any names and also any mention of whether my friend is male or female to protect their privacy, which I’m sure you can understand.
I suppose I better explain what I mean by a toxic friendship. I’m sure there is a better explanation on urban dictionary but basically it is someone who controls, embarrasses or manipulates you for their own amusement and to achieve their own ends. They control your life, what you do, who you talk to and make you feel guilty when you call them out on it.
This is also true for toxic relationships. If your boy/girlfriend does any of the above then get out of the relationship- now! I’ve been in one of those and and I know how badly if can effect your life and mental health. I’m only now recovering from the damage staying in mine caused me, so please learn from me and don’t make the same mistake I did!
So onto my friends story:
They say that high school are the best years of your life, right? Wrong! They say the people you become friends with, are friends for life, right? Wrong again.
Through a disastrous first year of receiving abuse from my peers we moved into year 8. A chance to mingle with other parts of our year a chance to become fresh meat to another bully. But on the positive side, a chance to make new friends. Which is where our problem starts.
Thrown out of one group in a group task I was asked if I wanted to join another, what option did I have really. So I set down my stuff and began my class work with a stranger. Over the first term we worked together on group projects a lot, I joined the rest of her social group and dinner and thought I’d found myself a new best friend. We were in the same boat really. She was picked on a lot too, so as long as we had each other we at least had one person who understood.
As school went on so did our friendship, my bullying had got worse. However towards her it seemed to have calmed down. It was though she’d blossomed overnight and from this became more popular. But with popularity came the bitchiness. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t direct (which looking back I probably would have preferred because I could have literally been like FUCK OFFFF) but nope as I sit here writing this, I understand she was getting into my head – it was I guess a form of mental abuse.
Through all the crap I’d been through, I was still a kind person and she played on that – I was practically her skivvy. Fetch me this, fetch me that. Do this, do that. I guess I felt that if I didn’t then I’d lose everything. But I already had, in one respect I’d lost my independence I felt like I needed her approval on what I should and shouldn’t do. Did she care? I actually don’t think so unless there was something in it for her.
Thinking about it, I think this was the beginning of my issues when it comes to any kind of relationship whether it be friendly or in a lovers capacity. If I begin to trust someone I can become obsessive, because I know in an instant it can be flipped. They could drop me and take everything I’d built up away. I second, thirdly, hundredth-ly guess everything! I pull it apart to its last particle and try and direct that too.
As children and teenagers our experience in making friends builds the foundations of how we think and feel towards others. Only my foundations were weak. And it’s only in the past 6 months that I’ve tried to rebuild them and not just fill in the cracks because that doesn’t work. Sometimes the poison seeps through, it’s there on my bad days. But honestly, if you find yourself holding on to a friendship (or relationship) not to feel lonely or to be popular then get out of it, it isn’t healthy. It’s toxic and can really negatively impact on your future if you let it continue.
I’m a big believer that friends should build you up and help you achieve your goals in life, not bring you down and make you feel crap about yourself. It might only be in little aspects that you’ve never really noticed until now, but if this post achieves nothing else I hope that it raises awareness for; what toxic friendships are, how to spot them and hopefully helps and encourages anyone who might be in one to try and break away from it.
I also just want to say a big thank you to my friend for being willing to share their very personal experiences. They’re really brave, I don’t think I’d be as honest, even if I knew it was going to be anonymous!
Do you have your own experiences with toxic friendships or relationships?
A twenty-four-year-old autistic writer and designer from Sheffield. Tattoo obsessed, animal lover, self confessed bookworm and eclectic witch.