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culling friends

I am up at 2am tonight thinking once again about that friend who has decided to stop talking to me entirely. It’s been about two years now. I’ve known her since she was a chubby cheeked toddler. I can still see her in her pink snowsuit. We could always pick up right where we left off.

I don’t think it’s personal. She just – can’t. I miss her terribly. No one is like her. She is magnificent. I anguish over not knowing how to do anything about her pain. I pray. I send out a little hello once in a while. Ultimately, I must respect her decision.

I’ve had very few people cut me out of their life for personal reasons but those who have, make it a habit with others. I find the people in the most distress create their own isolation by making it nearly impossible to reach out. Too “busy”, offers of help are rejected as “charity”. They wait for important dates to be forgotten and they give no reminders. Things are taken the worst possible way as an excuse to shut down.

Humans. We’re tricky. I feel bad that I have been their challenging friend. Or do I?

It’s very trendy right now to examine one’s friends and relatives and remove those who “aren’t a positive force in your life”. There is much pseudo-psycho-spiritual “40% less fat” lingo  about evolving and outgrowing relationships. My fitness program keeps telling me to “cull” the people who create stress.

This isn’t really about avoiding abusive relationships. It’s often about creating a life of ease.

There are times when a friendship drifts apart because there isn’t much in common anymore or ideologies are so different there is an impasse. Old friendships can tend to fade away over time, especially over long distance, and new ones crop up. That’s normal. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this idea of using friends like spa treatments. They better “affirm” and “energize” or drop them. It’s a disgusting justification for being intolerant and selfish.

Sure. My life would be so much easier if I only hung out with the friends and relatives I never argued with. If only I could find people who never battled through deaths, divorces and mental illness. What a drag. Think of all the good night sleeps I’d get! Probably my eyes wouldn’t bug out so much. I’d laugh more. I’d text less. I’d probably eat fewer carbs! I’d probably still be completely unaware of my pride, prejudice and my power to hurt.

Though it was horrifying at the time I am so very glad A called me homophobic, B let me know I was being arrogant, C asked me why I was being judgmental, D let me know he felt like he was walking through a mine field when he was with me and E advised me to throw out my mini skirts and kindly told me I didn’t need to show so much cleavage. These were hard lessons to learn growing up. They were all right. I’m painfully glad F alerted me to the fact that I always have to have the last word. It’s still very hard for me to walk away from a clever come back but it’s a great way to love someone.

I could go on and on. I have learned a lot. I have so much more to learn from those who ask me uncomfortable questions.

I am glad I have been there for friends who have had hard times. And when I say times I don’t mean days, weeks, months…I mean hard years. Sometimes I wasn’t there in the right way and I’d say the wrong thing or make things worse…but I think it was understood that I was doing my best. And some of them have been there for me during my hard years. Some of them haven’t. But again, I think they were doing their best. We can only try, right?

Mostly, I have easy fun loving supportive and affirming times with my friends, but the arguments and hard times are what make me a better person. It feels really really good to be known, to be forgiven, to have love stretched thin and then snap back again like a rubber band. Resilience. I value resilience. My friends and family are not Tupperware. I don’t throw them away when they lose their lid.

It’s the conflict and resolution that prepares me for the workplace, for motherhood, for being a good wife.

I believe in the importance and power of argument. I guess that’s why I’m a playwright.

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7 comments

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  1. Joyce Cann

    Thank you, dear ‘Cia! I tend to obsess over the ones who have jettisoned me because I refused to wallow in their particular brand of self-pity, wondering if I should have tried even harder……. It is OK to be annoyed or down-right pissed off with friends at times. True friendship and kinship will survive. But it is also ok to let it go, too!

  2. John

    Thank you for this Lucia, and though it’s tempting at times to ‘ “cull” the people who create stress’ in my life would be to lose my family and become a hermit, but just existing, there’s no growth and no life in it.

  3. jenn griffin

    A while back, well quite a while, I considered converting to Judaism for Harvey’s sake and I attended conversion classes. While I did not decide to convert as the word itself held no true relevance for me, I learned some cool things in the process. That which sticks in my memory most was a rabbi’s talk on hate. In Hebrew, words also have numerical value. The number for the word hate is 1/2 and the rabbi opined: “hatred can only exist when we see one half of things.” While those who may “ghost” us or hide from us, may not truly hate, in my humble opinion, when impasses arise we are only able to see half of a situation. My best friend used to disappear regularly and years later when she was able to disclose her years of drug addiction her periods of absence were accounted for. That friendship got back on course but I realize that many fall asunder. Thanks for your post Lucia!
    xxxjenng

    1. Lucia Frangione

      love this, Jenn xo

  4. Cheryl

    I will never cull you, Darling. Though we will piss each other off now and then…ooxx

    1. Lucia Frangione

      Friends for life, Fraser like the river.

  5. René

    I’m sorry.

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