I’m sitting at the breakfast table in my childhood home thumbing through some old photos and wondering why the hell my Mum used to cut my hair like she hated me.
It looks like she took a pair of scissors in each hand and, starting BEHIND my ears, hacked in a fringe until the scissors met somewhere off centre and at different heights near the middle of my forehead.
Still, lessons were learnt (like, Mum couldn’t and shouldn’t cut hair), hair grows back and nothing stays the same.
But even though I know intellectually that nothing stays the same, I can be transported back in time the moment I step foot in my childhood home.
The whispers of my past fill my ears, photos adorning every wall remind me of clothes I no longer wear (because what was I even thinking?) and the smell of Mum’s kitchen evokes memories – drinking cool lemonade on hot summer days; watching cakes rise in the oven; sitting still on the stool reserved strictly for two occasions, the first being when one too many people came over for dinner and the second for home haircuts before school started back.
While I have been hanging out with my Dad in the house I grew up in, I have been reflecting on the past and remembering who I used to be, the friends I used to have and the interests which once held my life together.
But I’m not eight years old anymore. Or even 18. Life has forged forward and I have grown and changed in that process.
I used to collect novelty soaps (I was so cool) and now I don’t.
I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. And now I don’t (okay, sometimes).
In fact, most of the interests I had, don’t interest me anymore.
The reality of the situation is that we are not designed to stay the same, even once we hit ‘grown up’ age. We, like the rest of nature will grow and change and as this happens we will take up new hobbies, adopt new haircuts (thank fuck) and make new friends.
Mostly, old friendships naturally run their course as we move away, change jobs, have babies, don’t have babies, find other friends and choose to collect stamps over soaps.
But every now and then, we get a stage five clinger – one of those friends who no longer shares the same values as you and although you can see the glaringly obvious, she can’t.
So how do we deal with friends we’ve outgrown?
It’s so tricky because often these friends have been with us for a long time.
Maybe you were thrown together at childhood, victims of the same fierce Primary School teacher whose hairy facial wart still haunts your dreams.
Maybe you did the awkward teenage years together, crushing on the same boys and stealing Marlborough lights from your Mum’s cigarette packet because, that’s what the cool kids did in the 90’s.
And if you did University or your early 20’s with this friend then you absolutely held each other’s hair back to vomit after too many dirty pints of cider. Good times.
And maybe none of those things applies to your friendship but regardless, once you had life in common, and now your values or boundaries or standards are different. So what do you do about that?
You don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings, but you’d also rather stab yourself in the eye than sit in a dirty stinking bar watching her grind up against a total stranger (who did not ask for it) and then listen as she cries on your shoulder and bangs on and on about how shit her life is yet refuses to do anything about it. She brings your vibe down, exhausts your soul and frustrates you to the point of madness
But, you got the guilts. Because in a different season of life, you pinkie promised you’d be BFF’s forever.
So let me give to 3 pointers to set you (and your friend) free.
1. Nothing lasts forever. And relationships are allowed to conclude.
Just before I flew from Melbourne to the UK to see my family, I moved house (which was fucking horrible but not the point) and in the sorting out of all my things, I came across a handbag I bought a few years ago.
At the time I LOVED everything about it.
The colour, the style, the size, that it perfectly held everything I needed from my MAC lipstick (which always stained my teeth) to my 11 travel cards (none of which ever had any money on them).
But over the years, it’s stopped serving me quite as well.
The handle came loose, I outgrew the style and there’s a hole in the lining which means I keep losing things I need like money, tampons, and keys.
Now, I loved that bag. And it was a little sad for me to realise it no longer served.
But it was cluttering up my wardrobe, and in order for me to have the space in my environment for a new bag which would keep my precious things safe, I needed to retire old faithful and so I let it go.
Now, I’m not comparing your friend to an old handbag.
But I am. Actually.
2. You are not helping your old buddy by listening to her whine on about her problems. You’re enabling her. It’s like feeding an alcoholic wine. You wouldn’t do that. Yet so many of us do this very type of thing when it comes to drama.
We actively encourage our friends to stay in their problem by talking about it with them, until it reaches soap opera proportions.
Now I’m not saying don’t be a mate and ignore a friend in need. But if you’re tired of a Debbie Downer’s constant, repetitive moaning and she’s not doing anything to help herself, you’re not doing anything to help HER by buying into her shit.
Now heed this.
DO NOT offer unsolicited advice.
It sucks balls for everyone.
You have no right to tell another person how to run their life and I am not suggesting for a second that you yell in her face “I’ve had enough of this Janet, do life like me or shut up!” but what you can do is say with love, “I value our friendship Janet and I don’t want to see you in pain and I see that this conversation is painful for you. So let’s change the subject because nothing is changing and I’m not helping by listening to the same story.”
Now, if she says “Fuck you! You don’t know what’s it’s like to be me. We’re through” well honestly, isn’t that what you wanted anyway?
Let her go with love.
Also let me just add that I am specifically talking about that person you don’t really want to be mates with anymore. Not your awesome mate who’s usually positive as hell but has just been dumped and made redundant in the same day. You mop that bitches tears up and get her some ice cream!
3. This isn’t about throwing friendships away like I threw my old bag away. You don’t need to ‘cut someone out of your life’. But you can choose not to invest as much time or energy into someone when they no longer share your values.
Answer their calls less, you don’t have to ignore them altogether but answer them when YOU have the energy to mange them.
Say no to invites to things you don’t want to do.
“Hey thanks Janet but Saturday night clubbing isn’t so much my bag these days. If you’re up for a coffee next week, let me know”
And don’t feel bad for asserting your standards and boundaries. What’s the worst case? Janet calls you “lame” for not wanting to do something which YOU think is lame?
Now also know this. Janet may act out a bit.
If you’re the one who has evolved and she hasn’t then, likelihood is Janet may be baffled that last month you were willing to bitch about every single person in the marketing department with her but these days, you’re not.
So show some compassion.
But ultimately, you need to be investing your time and energy in high vibe people that raise you up, encourage you in your success and will happily share details of their hairdresser with you.
If you’re looking for that community, head to my Facebook page Emily Chadbourne and give it a like and a follow, before hitting up my Facebook group That Crazy Thing Called Life for next level love and free courses. And for some next level hilarity follow me on Insta emily_thatcrazythingcalledlife
As for this blog, what did you think?
Comment below because a conversation is way more fun than a monologue, share with a mate (maybe not Janet) and subscribe here to have more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.
Until next week, thanks very much for reading.
Big love, Em x