Through elementary and most of middle school I had one friend I called my “best friend” and that was pretty much it. She had other friends but I essentially had only her for many years. At the time, I didn’t know she was toxic. We argued so much that we couldn’t spend more than 2 fulls days together before getting too mad to hang out any longer. That should have been a red flag. I kept going back to her until one day she just stopped talking to me. She sent me a typed letter a week or so later that was a single paragraph telling me that I was a bad influence on her and she didn’t want to be friends anymore. We were 13.
And just like that I was friendless. I had a few acquaintances from church but I wasn’t close to anyone. I didn’t have a close friend again until mid-highschool. By that point I had realized how bad my previous friendship had been and I had grown as a person. I had actually really grown into being alone a lot, or at least not having a close confidant my own age.
I think that time alone was important in a few ways.
One: it gave me time to reflect on that bad friendship. At first, I blamed myself. I MUST have done something wrong. But I didn’t and I had to work through that.
Two: it taught me how to choose friends wisely. Experiencing a toxic friendship showed me all the little red flags. Now I can avoid these types of relationships by simply not entering into them. I could have easily reached out in early high school and made friends. But too often I would see that the person I thought might be nice was actually a bad match. Usually, it was that I would hear them talking about others behind their backs. I was polite to everyone but I had no interest in growing close to a person I couldn’t trust.
Three: it gave me realistic expectations for friendship and relationships in general. I’m fine by myself so if my friends are busy then I understand. I don’t get hurt easily in relationships because I don’t give too much at the start. I spend a lot of time gauging people and watching them before I decide I want to be friends. I want to know what to expect and I want to be realistic about the whole thing. No one likes wasting time on something that will inevitably go no where.
Four: it taught me self-respect. My time, energy, and affection are mine. I am not obligated to give myself to anyone, regardless of how much they give (or think they give) me. No one is entitled to someone else’s friendship.
These things helped me grow. I had a much better understanding of good friendships before I had very many. I look back and am glad that God took away that toxic friend but I’m also grateful for the lessons I learned by havig her in my life. Now, I choose my friends, and I choose them carefully. I have no problem building a wall to keep someone out.
My friends now are crazy, fun, smart, incredible people who I am blessed to have in my life. God puts many people in our lives and I thank Him for the people He has given me.