Wednesday, January 27, 2016

20 Things to Master Before my 40th Birthday: Part 2

This post is continued from last week. There are 20, but I decided to take on the first 10.

6. How to End a Friendship
Sometimes friendships become toxic. I remember the first time I had to end a friendship. I was in college and she was my housemate. We had been friends since my first week on campus. We had traveled to Puerto Rico together. We had partied together and met each other's families. I thought it was a friendship destined to last.

But several factors changed that. For one, I started to realize the damage that bulimia was doing to my body. My roommate was my Bulimia Buddy. I know that sounds sick, but it is very common to have someone support you in that disease, usually a fellow bulimic. We'd cover for one another when we'd disappear after meals, encourage each other to restrict calories, and praise one another for getting rid of the food within 15 minutes of consumption. It was a sick relationship, but I didn't think so at the time.

Secondly, I was uncomfortable with all the lies she asked me to corroborate. I was constantly making up stories for where she was, who she was with, and what she was doing. It made me feel like I was the one deceiving our friends. Being a closet bulimic was a big enough secret to carry. Adding hers wore on me.

Almost all of our friends were mutual. I knew that they would feel like they had to take sides. This made me stick it out longer than I should have. Eventually, I couldn't do it anymore. I thought and thought about a peaceful ending. I didn't want a dramatic fight, or blow out. I wanted us to be mature about it so we could make alternate living arrangements in peace. I decided that since the semester was ending, I would find an apartment, give her a parting gift, and let her know that I would be getting my own place. I don't recall what I bought her, but I added a letter thanking her for the years of friendship, but saying that I felt we were at different places, and it would be best to end it. I remember giving her the gift bag, and telling her to please read the letter as soon as possible. I told her that I had found a small one bedroom I could afford, and was going to move out. She didn't get angry, nor did she seem surprised. We hugged, and that was the last time we spent any considerable amount of time together.

Maybe that was a cowardly way to end it, not telling her what was really bothering me, but I didn't think it mattered. I had no faith that she would change, and it wasn't something I really cared about. I needed to get away from a toxic relationship, and that seemed like the best option at the time. My actions weren't too far off what the article suggests, except that I added a parting gift.

7. How to Stay in Touch
Thank goodness for Facebook and text messaging. Those are my favorite modes of keeping in touch with friends and family. Like many others, I have come to dislike talking on the phone, unless it is to very close friends and family. I used to love being on the phone. It was my favorite past time for years, as my mother can attest to. Even though I always hesitate to answer phone calls, it's nice to hear a familiar voice and an actual laugh as opposed to reading "LOL".

I should try to call my friends and family more often, especially because I know what it's like to wish you could hear someone's voice just one more time. I should take advantage while I can.

8. How Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
I am getting better at this. Losing Warren taught me tons about what's really important. Before that, I worried about all the possible worse case scenarios, doubted myself a lot more, and stressed over things that were beyond my control.

Today, I take a moment to ask myself 3 things:
1) What are the alternatives?
2) Do I want to be involved?
3) Can I survive the outcomes?

Generally, I am able to put my mind at ease because of #3. I have survived 36 years of life throwing curve balls and blessings. I am still standing. I am stronger because of it. The small stuff isn't worth losing happiness or peace over. In the end, the small stuff won't matter as much as I think it will, and often, life has a way of working itself out in ways that are surprising in a good way. Trust in the universe a little more and you'll worry less.

9. How Not to Embarrass Yourself at Karaoke
This is a lost cause. There is no way I won't embarrass myself. If I can't avoid karaoke, then I will participate with those who are worse at it than I am.

10. How to Make New Friends—at Any Age
This is something that I think about a lot when I contemplate moving. I have an AMAZING group of friends whom I love dearly. They are my anchors. They make Des Moines tolerable. If I leave, I don't think I can find another such group. I can call any of my friends and find a listening ear, someone to make me laugh, encouragement, or a partner in crime. That is more valuable than gold. Sure, I can move and try to find friends by taking a class, joining a church, or volunteering, but I believe it's harder as we get older because so many of us have roots already and aren't looking for more friends. We might be friendly with new people we meet, but when was the last time you made a true friend in your thirties and later? You have probably made a lot of acquaintances. But, are those people whom you'd entrust with your child? Would you let them know where you keep your spare house key? If the answer is no, chances are that the person isn't really a friend.

Friendships take time and work, just like any other relationship. When they're solid, they take less effort, but they still require taking time to spend together; being there for them when they need you, even if it's not a convenient time for you; and allowing them to help you when you need it. Having friends like that is worth its weight in gold, at any age.

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