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Kitchen Sink

Circle Of Friends

February 18th, 2009

“Come as I am

With you I don’t need to pretend

You accept all my quirks

You’re never afraid to tell me when I’m being a jerk

 

Thank you thank you thank you again

Thank you thank you for being my friend

Yes I win everyday

That we spend together and I’ve got to say

That the truth is never unkind

‘Cause it comes from your heart and hits me in mine”

(Lyrics and music by the great songwriter, Christoper Dale.)

 

++++++++++++++++++

 

I once was part of a group. Something I started for companionship, intellectual stimulation and girly time. I nurtured the group into something I felt good about, often attending meetings as only one of two or three people, and frequently managed meeting business when I sensed apathy. It didn’t matter to me if I were the sole person at a get-together any given month, I loved this group and planned to keep it alive. To maintain my little group, I recruited people to join, and sent reminder emails so everyone stayed interested and engaged. I imagined the group as democratic and tried to stick to this mission, soliciting votes and never agreeing to anything unless all gave the OK. I’m sure I came off as annoying at times, too driven and focused on my vision for the group, and members often called me on it — but goodnaturedly, or so I thought.

 

Time passed and the group grew. WIthin three years, a nice collection of people gathered monthly and I no longer felt desperate to fuel the group with emails and constant prompts to attend. Still, I remained invested and would (unasked and often unwelcomed) assume leadership, give direction, prod people to stick to the group’s purpose. Soon enough, as happens, the group changed. I did my best to roll with it, yet I couldn’t shake the sense that this group was my baby and it saddened me to see how far it’d veered off course. I continued to hold on for dear life , but in the interim, my disappointment grew. Factions formed — one side wanted the group to be as it’d been intended, and the other — well, the other did not.

 

It’s OK. There’s evolution. I got that. And I’d have welcomed a healthy conversation about the group’s future direction, loosened my grip, relinquished control. As long as I knew my concerns would be heard and considered, and that some small kernel of the group’s original intent were kept, I’d be just fine with the new course. But ugliness somehow took root. Dishonesty and passive aggression and pettiness. I know I came across as a dictator and for that, I’m sorry, it’s the only way I knew to keep the group together and focused. Surely my desire to shape the group came across as misguided at times; but what I couldn’t — and still don’t — understand is the just plain meanness that resulted.

 

I still held on. Right up until a group night out, when I’d returned from the bathroom to a man who took me aside and told me the things he’d overheard my “friends” saying behind my back. Baldly ugly, untrue, and awful things. At that moment, I got it: I saw the negativity rear its head like a tiger about to swallow me whole. I wanted out of the jungle. Luckily, the month I quit the group for good, another incident cemented the deal. It became unwaveringly clear that group democracy, transparency and accountability were no longer values, and so it was done.

 

When I made the decision to leave, I felt like a drug addict off heroin. I’d shared a lot of personal milestones with this group. I started it when I moved to San Diego to be with The Rock; much of the group attended my wedding, and I’d shared my first pregnancy with its members. Of course all that paled when I heard what some of its members really thought of me, but still, you know, still.

 

Yet once I quit the group for good, I flew. I surrounded myself with healthy, supportive, positive people and we started a new group. We’ve since settled into a mutually supportive, loving, and spiritually uplifting circle. Now, when I get too earnest, too excitable, too San Diego Momma-y — and oh how I do — they tell me up front and with good intentions. I know I’ll never hear their gripes from an anonymous man in a bar as my heart splinters from the perfect awfulness of it all.

 

It’s hard to express just how happy I am that negativity is removed from my life. Plus, I just didn’t know how horribly it’d impacted me, until it was gone. Since that time, I’ve consciously chosen people who enrich my life. And I hope it goes both ways. My wish is that I give my friends something for all I take, and that we enlighten and empower each other.

 

Anyway. The whole experience taught me that who I keep time with, who I call friend, is more than just a passing decision. Even at my age, people shape you, hold you, and help you fly. And I’m so extra grateful to my group of friends, both online and off, for being the type of people that make me better, who like me for who I am, and when they don’t, say so with love in their hearts.

 

So: Who are you surrounding yourselves with? I hope they bring light and goodness. And also? Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a friend.

 

(UPDATED: Here’s a link to Bartender Face, and a story about how someone also decided to leave a circle of friends. And do you know about Bartender Face? It’s a site that allows you to post anonymously, which you may want to do, according to the site’s founder, to:

 

1. Be bold, experimental, titillating; to let another side of yourself run the show for a few minutes

or

2. Air something you really want to talk about but can’t, either in person or on your blog.

 

Check it out!)

 

« « PROMPTuesday #43: The Firestarter    |    Fodder » »

On February 18th, 2009, Steph said:

Oh, honey. This sang to me. I would go into more detail but the story isn’t…I don’t know. It’s mine, but it’s not JUST mine. Suffice it to say, “Yes, yes, forever yes!”

And this doesn’t just apply to friends, IMO – there’s no reason to keep negative bullshit that masks itself as “family” around, either.

On February 18th, 2009, foolery said:

You are one brave, introspective, honest and passionate lady. I am so pleased that you are free of all that crap that weighs you down. And I’m wishing that San Diego weren’t at the extreme end of the state. Can we move it north, about 600 miles?

On February 18th, 2009, robyn said:

Lovely! I’ve been absent, but love you all the same! ;)

On February 18th, 2009, Diane said:

Oh. I love your new group! It sounds wonderful (and screw those nasty old hags from the old group!). Can I be in your new group? I know I’m 3,000 miles away… you can put me on speakerphone, k? I’m so lonely here in Pigsknuckle. I want a group. I need a group. Can you tell me what your original mission was? How you got started? I’m really interested in knowing… like I said, I need a group. Sigh.

On February 18th, 2009, San Diego Momma said:

Steph: I know you can relate. I remember our emails about this!

Foolery: Let’s meet halfway!

Robyn: I love you too. And I’ve been absent as well.

Diane: I emailed you the particulars!

On February 18th, 2009, we_be_toys said:

What a ghastly experience for you – good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!
I have to admit, I’m not much for large groups of people – I have the same friends I’ve had for the last 25 years. I’m fairly comfortable chatting up another mom, or a fellow pet lover in the store aisle, but when it comes down to hanging with my peeps, it’s a small party, but just like a good book (you are what you read, too!), I don’t mind re-reading from the classics.

Hope you’re feeling better – sounds like you had a horrid virus.

On February 18th, 2009, vodkamom said:

That is so, so true. And isn’t it a shame that it takes us so very long to determine that love and hope are what we should surround ourselves with. I am so happy for your newfound freedom- and brilliance.

On February 18th, 2009, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

Do you have any idea how much I needed this today? Exactly today?

I’m going to read this over and over. Every day. Until I can do it.

Because today? I needed this. Exactly this. Today.

On February 18th, 2009, The Girl Next Door said:

What a horrid experience and yet GOOD FOR YOU for taking it and making something good out of it, growing and experiencing great new friends! It took me about 40 years and many many many bad friend and “partner” choices to even begin to figure this out for myself. Now, yeah, if you’re not a positive influence on my life, well, you’re not in my life.

Thanks for sharing!

On February 18th, 2009, Blognut said:

I’m glad you tossed the old group for the new one. I think it’s a great idea to choose only friends who are as good for you as you are for them. You rock, Deb. You should never have to hang with people who don’t see that in you. Screw ‘em.

On February 18th, 2009, PAPA said:

I’ve also cut certain people out of my life for not having the same (positive) outlook on life and they always take it very harshly and I feel terrible but in the end it always feels right. And so much lighter.
I stray away from drama. I keep it simple.
Love
Laugh
Live
(and occasionally)
Lust
:)

On February 19th, 2009, tinsenpup said:

It must have been truly awful to hear it that way, but wow, that anonymous man was pretty awesome for bothering to do that. That’s some serious integrity right there. I’m glad you had the opportunity to move on to something so much better.

On February 19th, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

You are a very lucky woman :).

On February 19th, 2009, stoneskin said:

Sounds like it was quite a difficult time. Very wise advice.

On February 19th, 2009, mary said:

I’m so sorry but so thankful that the man in the bar thought enough to tell you…must have been some pretty awful stuff for a stranger to invest himself. I can relate- my good friend of many years and business partner had a bit too much to drink one night and told a large group of our colleagues that she carried most of the weight in our biz (very untrue) and topped off her little rant by saying that my husband was an asshole. Nice.
We fulfilled our commitments that were on the books, and I’ve happily moved on- although like you, it took getting out of it to realize how toxic it was.
bravo and good luck wiht your new group!

On February 19th, 2009, Danielle said:

I am glad you were able to rise above the other group and get out. I know it was hard, I’ve been there too. And it is so unfortunate for those people they have no idea what they are missing out on.

On February 19th, 2009, Crystal said:

Old group sucked…new group rocks!! YAY!

Sorry, that’s all you’re gonna get outta me today…I have a killer sinus headache. But seriously…good for you for getting away from those energy vampires (that’s a term from Jon Gordon, who wrote The Energy Bus, that I haven’t read yet but I get weekly e-newsletters from the author that are encouraging). And I wanted to say “vampire” because the whole Twilight hullabaloo has somewhat calmed down, and I sorta miss it. hehe

On February 19th, 2009, Laurie @ Foolery and Bartender Face said:

Hey Deb, thanks for linking to Bartender Face and for giving it such a great plug! I hope that people will use it to clear their heads in a safe environment. You’re a doll. :)

On February 19th, 2009, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

I had a very similar experience–and I really didn’t like the person I was becoming. Mine was the babysitting co-op at the club I belonged to–when my youngest was 3 months shy of 3 years old I begged the preschool director to take her early before I ended up killing someone.

On February 19th, 2009, Mama Mary said:

One of my news years resolutions was to not talk sh*t about people. Once I started to think about it, I realized there were some “friends” in my life who fueled that side of me and really, that was all we had to talk about…other people. I have slowly been removing myself from those people and those situations. I’m glad you found the new group!!!

On February 20th, 2009, Steph said:

It’s sad to think of the angst you must have experienced, but one must keep in mind there are two sides to every story and every picture tells one.

On February 20th, 2009, Kristi said:

Yay! Hard to remember, I’m sure – but it sounds like you are much better off!!

I was on vacation (at Sea World actually!) and kids sick now but I want to get back to PROMPTuesday. I got stuck on the wil of the wisp and couldn’t publish what I wrote for some reason. So dumb :)

On February 22nd, 2009, jessica said:

A love that saying that there are people in your life for a reason, a season or for life and it is true for both individuals and groups. It’s so healthy to let go of those that are toxic for you. It’s hard b/c you put so much of you into the group but you got what you needed and they were for a season and now it was time to move on.

On February 28th, 2009, Da Goddess said:

Oh, I’ve had to do this. I’ve had to walk away even when I thought there was still something there that might enrich my life. Except that I always walked away feeling worse. That’s not how it should be with friends and your support system.

Lately, too, I’m in a situation where I’ve been involved, doing much the same thing, for several years. I enjoy several aspects of this group, but I discovered that there was someone I trusted who was stabbing me in the back whilst I was recovering, oddly enough, from back surgery. Guess one knife digging around in me wasn’t enough for her. (She, too, was at my wedding years ago.) There are plenty of other people within this group who stood up for me, but most were shocked into silence. Silence, I feel, is often akin to granting the bully greater reign. There have been a few other incidents that have made me question my involvement with this group and I find myself wondering if it isn’t time to walk away before someone ends up bloodied and bruised and you’d have to come visit me in prison.

hmmm…

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