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For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Now let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we’re gonna talk about breaking your bones, your shitty ex-friend, and me, duh.
A long-term friend outed me/cut contact/said she hated me w/o even telling me why. Now she’s back in my life and monopolizing my best friends. I’m not comfortable around her, but I feel like I have to choose between enduring it and being alone. Advice?
You shouldn’t have to choose between enduring it and being alone, and you really don’t have to. Even though she was the jerk, how that makes you feel is ultimately your burden to bear. Your misery means nothing to her and it can’t be abated by your friends. This is good news, because if the problem is yours, then it’s also yours to solve. You can let it go or let it drive nails through your skull — it’s totally up to you!
I’m going to assume that Myrtle — we’re gonna call her Myrtle, because that was my penname in elementary school — isn’t still putting a concerted effort into making your life miserable, because it sounds more like you’re just avoiding her in general, which is also resulting in avoiding your friends. However, if Myrtle is actively being a goober, you should probably go ahead and let your friends know that you won’t be around as often, citing your overwhelming pull towards sanity and positivity and happiness. This will include looking for other ways to entertain yourself or finding support/validation somewhere beyond your current group of friends. Your very best friends will a) understand and b) work with you to figure out how you can still spend time together.
But honestly I’m leaning more toward my second option: closure.
Closure is a neat little thing with the potential to change lives and set everyone super free! However, the funny thing about closure is that no one involved really wants to go through the process — it’s mostly agonizing and terrible, kinda like re-breaking a bone that didn’t heal properly the first time. Actually yeah, closure is exactly like re-breaking a bone. But the fun part is that it’s generally worth it.
So if it seems like Myrtle isn’t going away anytime soon, you might want to think about just coming to terms with the fucked up things she did to you and letting them go. And if even the word ‘forgiveness’ makes you cringe, look at this more as the internalization of honesty (both yours and Myrtle’s), the acceptance of reality and the learning of a valuable lesson. For me, the lesson is usually that people can be real assholes, which sounds cynical and a little sad, but once I accepted this as truth, things were so much easier. Seriously. Instead of hoping or expecting someone — even the greatest friends! — to consistently be the good versions of themselves, I go ahead and carve out a place for them to be total assholes, so that when it happens — and it will — I can say “Ah yes, I anticipated this assholery. Here, I even made you an asshole room. You can stay here for a while, in your asshole room, asshole.” So the rest of my life can go on relatively unaltered, because I think the most shattering part of people being assholes is really just the shock of it all.
But enough about me! So you basically have two options: direct closure (via talking to dear Myrtle) and indirect closure (via talking to a different friend/therapist, etc). Either way, start by making a short list of things that feel unresolved so you can stay focused on the healing portion of this exercise, instead of getting caught up in the emotional time machine roller coaster. Also lists are just a good idea in general. Always make a list.
If you decide to go with direct closure, be prepared for Myrtle to be uncooperative and defensive. She’s under no obligation to explain herself to you or admit any wrongdoings on her part, so there’s a solid chance she won’t. You may never get the full story re: why she was so terrible to you, but it could be cathartic just to tell her what the world looked like from your side. I wouldn’t typically recommend going with the direct route, because it’s really the most painful and combative of the two, but since she insists on hanging around, this seems like the logical choice. Judging by her past behavior, I guess there’s reason to believe she won’t even agree to a conversation, in which case I suggest writing it all down on paper, followed by a list of all the ways your life improved after Myrtle was out of it. Then tear off the last part and tape it to your closet door.
If you go the indirect route, definitely choose a friend with the smallest potential for assholery. For this reason, a family member or therapist would probably be your best bets, or maybe I just have trust issues. Get the unresolved situations off your chest and be really kind when your friend gives you advice or shares their feelings. This can’t be a Myrtle’s Such A Bitch party, so stick to the list. Once everything has been covered and you feel really cleansed, let it go for good. Consider reading some books about forgiveness. I’ve never read a book about forgiveness, so I don’t have any recommendations.
You can also do a combo plate of both types of closure. You can’t change the past obviously, but you’re more or less in control of right now, so keep your little eyes on the horizon and spend the majority of your energy on the people and things that make you happy, regardless of who else is around.
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