Several years ago I had a major falling out with a friend of mine, who we will call Abby. She wasn’t just a typical friend, she was one of those close friends that you feel like you can tell anything to, and if you didn’t know better, you would swear that you were related but separated at birth. We were a huge part of each other’s lives for about 3 years. Life happened however, and she ended up moving away to be closer to her family. Selfishly, this made me sad that I was losing my friend, but I knew it was the best thing for her, so I was glad she was going. Due to how strong our connection was, it made saying farewell very difficult, and as a result we parted on bad terms without ever really saying goodbye. Having Abby exit my life this way left a void inside me that needed to be filled to restore balance to my world and help me heal my emotional wounds. In my attempt to eliminate this hole in my heart and alleviate my emotional pain, I clung to the first person I connected with and tried to force them into this void in my life, which was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. And as every child learns, no matter how hard you try to make it fit, eventually the peg will break.
Immediately after Abby left I went into an emotional funk. I was sort of like a leaf just floating down the river of life, letting the current carry me. A friend of mine, who we will call Danielle, took pity on me and decided that she was going to try to get me out of my state of melancholy, so she started inviting me out to do things with her fairly regularly. I turned her down the first several times, just wanting to sit at home and mope in my own personal pity party, but eventually I gave in to her coaxing hoping that she would then leave me alone. We went out for drinks and a movie, and I was surprised that I really enjoyed spending time with her. Since we had such a good evening, the next time she invited me to go do something I agreed. Over the next couple months, Danielle and I hung out a lot and became close friends.
Now, Danielle was not like the type of people that I am usually friends with. She was very outgoing, liked to bar hop, and was always looking for a place to party. Given my current emotional state however, I thought that maybe a change of pace was exactly what I needed to shake things up and get my life back on track. As we started hanging out more and more, and we moved into the “close friends” level of friendship, I noticed that I was happier, and I no longer just drifted through life. Danielle was the catalyst that started me on the road back to happiness. I was having fun and enjoying myself again. This carefree, fun loving mentality Danielle championed had rubbed off on me and brought me back from the dead. Life was good again, at least for a while.
As Danielle and I grew close, in addition to getting out of my emotional funk, I also started changing in other ways. I was going out to bars and drinking more frequently, not going to my classes as often, and hanging out with people that I never would have associated with before. I was slowly transforming into a different person the more that Danielle and I spent time together, and the person I was becoming was not someone I wanted to be. Fortunately, I had other friends that brought to my attention how this relationship was becoming toxic for my life. They pointed out that not only was I changing for the worse, but in addition Danielle was taking advantage of my friendship. I would always buy her drinks, pay for dinner, and do her favors, but anytime I would ask for a favor in return, she would be too busy or have something come up at the last minute. I eventually came to realize that our relationship was very one-sided, and that she was using me to get what she wanted. As hard as it was to admit, I finally accepted that Danielle was not good for me, and I needed to get her out of my life if I wanted to be happy.
Looking back now, I cannot believe that I got so close to someone like Danielle. I do not think she is a bad person, in fact I am grateful to her for getting me out of my funk from Abby leaving, but we are just very different people, from very different worlds, living very different lives. I was so focused on filling the hole in my heart however, that when she came along and showed me how much fun we could have, that I didn’t take the time to think about how compatible we were. In a way, I was on the rebound from Abby, and Danielle just happened to be the person I latched on to. And as fun as rebound relationships can be, eventually they end and you go back to the types of friends you really want. This process is just a part of recovering from a relationship ending badly, as it shows you what is really important to you in your relationships and in your life.
I like to think of my emotional and social world as a glass that needs to be filled. As you go through life you fill your glass with all of the experiences and relationships that you come in to contact with. In order to lead a full, happy life, you have to make sure you get out into the world and fill your glass with new experiences and the people who you care about. Just as importantly however, you must also make sure to empty your glass of all of the negative experiences and people who come into your life. This is vital because your glass can only hold so much, and in order to live the happiest, most successful life as possible, you must get rid of the bad to make room for the good. If not, even if you have an amazing, life changing experience, when you add it to your glass it will just spill over the side and be lost.
You will be happy to know that thanks to Roll Models, Abby and I have reconnected and patched things up, and I even talked about this in my post, “A Powerful Apology.” Danielle is no longer a part of my life, but I wish her well, and I am back to my old self. Even though these two relationships were a rollercoaster of emotions, I am glad that I experienced them because of the lessons they taught me. Just as important as it is to fill your life with new experiences and people, it is equally as important to take the time to think about whether these new additions to your life are good for you. You have to be sure to empty your glass of negative experiences in order to make room for the positive experiences you encounter. Otherwise, they will just spill over like an over poured beer, and there is nothing sadder than spilled beer. What people in your life are just taking up room in your glass? Take the time and action to pour them out of your life, and then get out there and fill your glass with the people who love you and experiences that make you smile. Although it may be difficult at first to cut ties with these people, in the long run you will find that you are living a happier, more fulfilling life.