I have always been surrounded by great friends who got my back no matter what I am facing. They have always shown their love and support for me not only in big matters but also in small ones.
I once read in an article by Rania Naim that support system comes in the form of great friends. I am a firm believer of that, but it makes me feel guilty. The thing is, I was not a great friend to the people who saw me as their friends. I took most of them for granted.
Here is the story.
I used to be what the internet pertains to as a toxic friend–the friend who is jealous about her friends’ successes; the friend who is too self-absorbed; the friend who is not trustworthy; the friend who lacks empathy; and most of all, the friend who feels entitled to her friends’ attention.
When I was in 7th grade to 12th grade, it never occurred to me that I was a toxic friend. I thought I was just a fair-weather friend–the kind who is only there for the good times but when the going gets tough, tends to vanish.
I started considering myself a fair-weather friend when I was in 10th grade. Although I was part of a great friend group, my presence was not always felt by them during their hard times. There were a lot of times that they needed shoulders to cry on, but I am always missing in the frame.
Frankly speaking, I thought that they were the problem for not understanding where I am coming from not realizing it was me all along.
I remember, there were a couple of times that I ditched them. Instead of trying to build my relationship with them, what I did was strain it more by doing the bare minimum to bridge it.
I already put on my mind how the word “sorry” should always come hand-in-hand with change, but when I was in 10th grade, that fact was something that holds no importance to me. Instead of change, I tend to accompany my apologies with effort. I would write letters and buy food for my friends hoping that by doing so, I will get their pity resulting for them to take me back in the group.
On days when I felt like they were the ones who did me wrong, what I did was fit myself in other friend groups to let my real friend group feel that I am fine without them.
After we parted ways because we decided to go to different schools for senior high school, that is when I realized how much they were understanding me despite my shortcomings in the friendship.
The reason they never made me feel like I was doing a horrible job in the friendship was the fact that they have accepted me already–they have accepted how childish I can get, and how emotional I can be.
Although being a fair-weather friend is bad, knowing that you are a toxic friend, in general, is way worse. I figured I was a toxic friend (not just a fair-weather friend) during the early months of quarantine.
The early months of quarantine led me to discover a lot of things about myself. Some of those discoveries were small like the fact that journaling does not work for me no matter how hard I try to while some of them are big like the fact that I was a toxic friend to those who consider me as their friend.
The negative traits that were evident when I was in 10th grade heightened when I became a senior high school student. I started becoming more jealous of my friends’ successes and more irritable of their down moments.
They may say otherwise because I tend to accompany them most of the time especially when they have their problems, but the thing is, sometimes I tend to not take their problems into heart and just say what I believe I should say given the situation.
I remember, there was this certain quote that went around the internet that said that the reason why we listen was to reply and not really to understand the situation. Frankly speaking, that quote hit me hard because it spoke volumes on how I am as a friend.
If there is one thing I learned from being a toxic friend, it is the fact that no matter how detrimental you think your friendship is for your friends, some of them will stay not because they consider you as a great friend, but because they are choosing to see you in a positive light.
I once had a talk with one of my senior high school friends and I asked her how, despite all my shortcomings, and the times I tested both her patience and understanding, chose to remain by my side. The simple answer she gave me was the fact that I am not completely toxic in the friendship.
She agreed when I told her all about my toxic traits, but she told me that those traits do not encompass my whole being.
According to her, there were times I shared memorable moments with them that made them cry, laugh, and happy; there were times when I became the source of their laughter because of my idiotically childish antics; there were also times when I made them think through the thoughts and advice I tend to share with them.
She also told me that although I tend to be absent most of the time, the times when I am present is what she values in our friendship.
When she told me that, it made me realize that great friends see both your negative and positive traits, but chooses to focus on the positives. My friends are aware of how draining I am as a person; they are aware of how irritable I can get; they are aware of how many lies I have spouted, but despite that, they continue to see me as their friend.
Because of that specific lesson I learned from being a toxic friend, I realized how blessed I was for having my friends. Although that is the case, I must stop taking them for granted. Their acceptance of me should not be my excuse to embrace my toxicity. Instead, it should be my reason to try my hardest to improve how I am as a friend.
The thing is, it is never too late to to be a better friend.
Right now, that is what I will try to do.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate it a lot.
This is a piece that reveals a lot about myself, but I fought the urge to not post it in my blog because I know that someone out there might find it helpful. The path to self-discovery is really ugly. You will not only discover positive attributes about yourself, but also negative ones.
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