Digging Up The Grudge Graveyard
If you were to ask me a couple of years ago whether I was the type of person to hold a grudge, I would have said "Nah, I don't think so."
However, it has come to my attention recently (with thanks to some patient friends and an insightful kinesiologist) that I am in fact, a gold medalist in Grudge Holding. And it might be affecting me in more ways than just my social calendar.
I think it's important to state now, early in the piece, that I am a firm believer in cutting the dead weight. I have cut many a friend in the past who I felt simply wasn't bringing any joy into my life, but rather drama. Or stress. I think as you get older (and presumably wiser) and graduate from high school and then maybe university, you start to realise you actually don't have to be friends with anyone anymore.
That girl you've known since primary school who makes you feel like you're constantly competing with each other? Cya! The toxic guy from work who flakes on plans 9 times out of 10, with the worst excuses? Bye Felicia! You don't have to keep them in your life if they're bringing more negativity than positivity. Cut. Them. Loose.
I actually believe there is a lot to said about being self-aware enough to realise when somebody is bringing you down, and then brave enough to politely let them know you're breaking up with them. It's not you, it's them.
In other situations, some space may be all that's needed to give the friendship a chance at surviving. Sometimes when you're spending bulk amounts of time with someone, all you need is a few weeks of time-out to cool your jets and realise you do in fact love all their weird and wonderful ways...just not 24/7.
So let me be clear when I say there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding certain people aren't the kind of friends you wan't surrounding you...for whatever reason.
Recently however I have realised that there are a couple of people in my friend graveyard that I maybe killed off prematurely. If you know me, you know how much it pains me to admit when I'm wrong... but I'll be honest and say there are a handful, and only a handful, of people I've banished that I maybe miss. Just a little.
Okay so maybe more than a little.
Three VIP graveyard residents include: the old housemate who I haven't spoken to in months over a stupid share-house argument that got blown out of proportion. Then there is the friend who's always been more like a sister and our drunken falling out, about which I'm still not entirely sure because...well, we were both drunk. And finally, one of my oldest friends of 11 years who I haven't spoken to in over 7 weeks because we're both stupidly stubborn and apparently unable to see things from the other's point of view.
At the time, the arguments may feel like the end of the world. A huge slap in the face. A kick in the guts. My feelings are hurt or maybe I hurt the other person's feelings. I have a habit of taking everything personally and if I believe I have been wrong-done by, well, god help you.
But when does it get to the point where you swallow your pride and just apologise? Extend the olive branch? Admit fault and try to hash it out? Pretend like you remember whatever it was you were fighting about in the first place and make ammends?
Personally, I noticed a few things that made me think it was time to be the bigger person...
- You stalk their social media platforms like a crazy ex. Now that I wasn't spending every waking moment texting my girlfriend about every single thought and feeling we had, I needed to know exactly what I was missing out on. Did she end up going on that date? What did she wear? Oh no! Is she sick? I found myself obsessively keeping tabs on her and her life via social media, my heart aching with every selfie I didn't help art direct.
- You find yourself talking about them as if they were dead. I was suddenly speaking about my beloved friends in the past tense! "Oh, Rosie* would have LOVED those boots." "Jen* and I USED to come here all the time." It was becoming clear to me (and everyone around me) that I was mourning a life I once lived and a friend I so obviously missed.
- Your other friends are sick to death of hearing about it. I have re-hashed these arguments again and again, with a variety of different audiences trying to gage their opinions. Was I in the wrong or was she? I had some valid points...right? Can you read this 250 word text message I've drafted and tell me if I'm being too harsh? If the argument is bothering you so much you feel the need to constantly round-table it with whatever poor friends you have left, maybe it's time you actually did something about it?
- You go to text or call them a million times... but don't. I've lost count at the amount of times I've gone to text my grudge graveyard friends before remembering that we're not in fact talking. At first, it was out of habit. I'd see a hilarious meme about napping on Instagram and immediately go to tag my girlfriend before it dawned on me that we were currently involved in a Mexican stand-off. Months into the silent treatment I'd be lying in bed late at night, drafting up apology texts before my ego got the better of me and I'd quickly delete them. What if they didn't reply? What if they didn't want to make up? What if they were having more fun without me?
- You just fucking miss them.
If you or somebody you know is currently suffering any of the above symptoms, I think it's time to swallow that pride, snap off that olive branch and give it your best shot. You don't even have to address the cause of the original argument... just shoot them a casual, "Hey stranger, I hope you've been well. Always here if you feel like catching up. x" (Don't forget the kiss, the kiss is very important. It shows you're ready to play nice.)
That way, you can sleep soundly at night knowing you've done all you can do resolve the tension.
Best case scenario? They've been stalking your every move too and want to catch up for a drink. Worst case? They ignore you, or decide it's time to put the friendship to bed and that's okay too. That's life. I'm positive you have plenty of other people in your circle that would happily snuggle up to an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race with you. Who know's, maybe it was time for that friendship to come to a natural end... but at least you know you made an effort to leave things on a positive note.
I read something the other night and it resonated with me and my stupid grudge graveyard: "Make peace with your past so it won't disturb your present."
Right. Somebody hand me a shovel will you?
*I don't actually have any friends called Rosie or Jen but would be open to making some new ones?