Recently, Caleb and I got new callings in the Young Men and Young Womens, respectively.
A few weeks after we got our callings, our ward took a trip to the Ogden temple open house. We drove 3 of the Beehives to Ogden and back. The entire way, all 3 girls laughed and giggled (and told a surprising number of stories about vomiting). But this story isn't really about them, it's about me, and what I realized about myself that night.
As we dropped off the first girl, she made some joke as she got out of the car. As soon as the car door shut, without even realizing it, I braced myself. Here it comes. I thought. These other two girls are going to say something negative about her. To my pleasant surprise, all those cute girls said was, "She is just SO funny!"
I relaxed, but I also felt sick inside. What had made me think that these sweet girls were going to turn on their friend the moment she was out of earshot?
Oh, yeah. Firsthand experience.
I've written before about girl on girl bullying and how we treat each other, but with this post I wanted to say something different. I wanted to say that I'm afraid the way we treat each other is so deeply ingrained in us by now that it's not something that is going to change easily. I wanted to say that clearly we didn't treat each other this way when we were 12, so when did it start? Mostly, I wanted to say that it's our choice of friends that makes all the difference.

On a very different note, when I was going to school at Utah State, we had a lesson in church about pornography. The teacher told us that we shouldn't ask a boy if he's ever had any experience with porn, but to what extent. Implying that any and every boy has or has had a problem with porn at some point. I was devastated. What a shame! It certainly wasn't something I wanted to deal with for the rest of my life, always worrying about my husband.
I mentioned it to Caleb at some point when we were engaged, and he got very offended. It hit me how unfair it is for us to generalize about anything. That being said, I think I've insinuated way too often that girls are just going to be mean because they're girls. This isn't true. There are girls out there who will be great friends to you. The key is, you have to be a good friend, too.
I love this skit from Family Guy, because it's how I've always felt, and I think most women can relate.

(here is the link in case the video won't play Family Guy Video)

Still, it was a rude awakening to realize that I actually expect a group of girls of any age to say something negative about each other the minute one leaves. But in my experience, that's how it often was. There were certain friends that if I was the first to leave the group for the night, I would be sick with anxiety about what they were saying about me. Why didn't I think there was something wrong with that? Why, when a boyfriend treats us badly, do we say we deserve better, but not when our friends do the same? It wasn't just paranoia that made me feel this way, it was solid truth: I knew, because if I was the last to leave, I would take turns saying something about the other people who left. Anything was fair game. "Interesting shoe choice she had tonight." "That was stupid what she said about her dad." "I know I said I agreed with her, but I can't believe she did that."
Occasionally, I'd hear things that were said about me, and they were rarely anything with any substance to get upset over. But the problem was that we had no trust between us, and we all knew it. I felt like I spent half my time defending myself or trying to make myself look better and get people on my team, and the other half of my time knocking someone else down.
It was exhausting, it wasn't fair, and it wasn't friendship.
Growing up, I was always fairly shy, at least at first. But the last couple years, it's like shy, quiet Anndee has turned into this evil monster who demands respect.
And you know what? I kinda like it.
At first, I was upset about the number of friends who wrote me off after I got married. But, slowly, the real friends started to show themselves more. I feel I can safely say which friends I can go to with problems, and which friends I trust. Five years ago, no way.
I don't like change, and it took me a long time to be able to move on, to accept that some people just simply aren't meant to stay in our lives. There were a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of unreturned texts, and a lot of angry rants to my husband, but then it finally dawned on me how lucky I am.
Five and a half years later, and I think High School is finally over!

The other night, I was the first to leave a party with a bunch of my closest friends. It didn't occur to me until later that night that I never had that familiar, crippling anxiety when I left. These friends I have now are friends I trust, friends I can count on. I no longer need an endless list of empty friendships to keep in my phone in case I'm having a lonely Saturday night. I am finally secure enough, finally old enough, to be content with the friendships I have, and to let go of the ones that were poisonous.
It takes time, but not all girls will make you feel this way. You have to search, sometimes, but it's worth it the first time you realize you are finally completely comfortable with the people you choose to, want to, surround yourself with.

1 comment:

  1. This post makes me sad. This and some other things that you have posted have made me upset that you had such unhealthy relationships with your friends. Everyone deserves to know what it feels like to have good friends that they can trust and that are unconditionally loving. I am so glad that you have moved on and are able to finally find those friends that are supportive and kind. It's a good thing that life is a journey and that we can each learn from our experiences and become better because of them.