People lie – a lot.
And one of those lies is that they have a lot of friends. Or the opposite – that they don’t need friends. Or maybe that they’re friends and their friendships are all super perfect.
We all know that one is a lie. Nobody is perfect – not in an all-encompassing, always-right way. Those one-dimensional stick figure cut-out representations of friendships are best left to television shows and bad fiction, not in our own narratives.
Real friends are gritty and confusing and beautiful and triumphant. Real friends know that you don’t always have your stuff together and they love you anyways. Real friends have your back when you’re sobbing into the phone hysterically and real friends don’t tell your secrets or lie about you.
Unless they do.
And those friends then sometimes become the people about whom you’re sobbing into the phone uncontrollably. You forgive them. Or you don’t. But you are definitely aware that they aren’t perfect.
None of us are.
According to a 2017 article by Lydia Denworth for Psychology Today, there are three main elements to friendships. Those are:
Spending time with each other
Focusing on the positive parts of your friend and friendship, and
Helping each other.
What does that mean? The more time you spend with someone or thinking about them, the stronger the bond. The more you are silly, goofy, tell stories, dance around, build Legos with your friends, the more you associate them with happy chemical messages to your brain. The more you help your friend and your friend helps you, the more stable and good the friendship. (As opposed to those one-sided friendships where someone is trying to gain status through you, or always complains to you but never listens back, or always makes you pay the bill, etc.).
Allegedly, we have about five of those friendships in our whole entire lives. Those good friends? They are hard to find.
When I was a little kid, I used to catalogue my friends. I don’t do that anymore. But back then, I basically created concentric circles of BEST FRIEND, GOOD FRIEND, POTENTIAL GOOD FRIENDS. People could move from place to place if I spent more time with them or felt closer to them. People could also fall completely off the charts. It’s all really childhood drama, and kind of extra, but it was there – this cataloguing, this being in ‘good graces’ versus ‘bad land of friendship exile.’
I’m not sure if I’ve grown up all that much, honestly.
Once a friendship goes toxic, I pull back. I give people second and third chances, but if they’re using me too much? I don’t ever reach out to them. If a friend lies to me? I don’t trust them much again. If a friend lies to someone else about me and I find out? I don’t trust them either.
But here’s the thing – I still love those people, those no-longer-trusted-as-much friends. I love my friend that I caught cheating at a game night because he’s addicted to secret, social dangers. I love my friend that name drops constantly because she’s so insecure. I love my friend that lies because she hates her own life so much that she doesn’t remember what truth is anymore.
I will forgive almost everyone anything, until I won’t.
That’s because I know I’m not perfect either. I don’t dwell on my imperfections, the times I failed, but I have failed. A ton.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One time at my friend’s super-low-stakes weekly poker night, I explained that there are only five local people that are on my #deadtomelist. One called firefighters and my writing schmaltzy and then suggested I didn’t know what the word schmaltz meant.
He’s off that list now. He doesn’t matter.
One is a man who hurt dozens of women, a narcissist with a lot of issues.
He’s still on the list.
So, is the man who stalked me around town. So, is the police officer who wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him about the man who stalked me around town.
And there’s one more person that I’m not going to mention.
You’ll notice people actually moved off that list, which I guess wasn’t named #foreverdeadtome, but just #deadtome.
Everyone at poker really wanted to know the names on my list. That’s because they didn’t think I could hate because I focus so much on love. But here’s the thing – I can hate. Everyone can hate. I just don’t dwell in the hate. My hate (when it happens) flies up like a rage, explodes like a firework and then disappears almost instantly except for a name on a list.
He who hurts women
He who stalks
He who protects he who stalks
She who I will not mention
Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. – Charles Spurgeon
I’m privileged in that I don’t have to or need to dwell on that hate and I’m lucky. But the people who have done the absolute worst to me? The horrible things? They aren’t even on the #deadtomelist.
That doesn’t make sense, right?
But to me, for my mental health? Those people are so dead to me that they don’t even exist in my brain anymore. My brain is too full of beauty and friendship, of stories and dogs and cats and manatees, to get used up with them and their hurt and their evil. These people flash in my consciousness every once in awhile, but then they’re gone – so dead to me that I forget their existence.
The space they could inhabit? I fill it up with dreams, with friends, with love. So, that’s what I do.
Writing and Other News
I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival talking about my Moe Berg book that’s detailed below.
I do art stuff. You can find it and boy a print here.
People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?
It’s awesome and quirky and fun.
FLYING AND ENHANCED
Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it sound fun. You can buy them here or anywhere.
OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
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I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.
I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!
Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?
Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.
Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here.