Posted in School

When Friendship Turns Poisonous

“How dare you talk to her, you’re my friend!” She screeched.

“What do you mean?” I said feeling utterly confused.

“You’re my friend only! It’s stupid that you’re talking to other people. So stupid!”

I gaped, “Are you for real?” I moved closer and lowered my voice glancing around the school hallway hoping that no one had heard her. “Why is it stupid for me to have other friends?”

She stepped closer and narrowed her small beady eyes, “Because you’re my friend and no one else should be. You’re not allowed to have other friends! Do you understand?”

“I’m not allowed?” I laughed; sure that she was teasing me.

But she didn’t smile. Her thin lips pursed.

“You’re crazy!” I moved back and noticed for the first time how much like a snake her dark eyes were.

How had they become friends anyway? Had she always been this creepy?

I took a deep breath, “I will have as many friends as I want, so deal with it!”

“You’ll be sorry.” She seethed.

I watched her storm away and knew that she meant every single word.

A shiver ran down my spine.

This was going to be a hard school year.

                                    ___________________________________

The story above seems to be straight out of a scary teen movie and maybe a bit extreme, but the sad truth is that it’s based on a true story.

Elle and Vivienne had been friends for years and as friends, they had always had falling outs.

Vivienne was the dominant one with a strong personality, the one that complained about everything, gossiped about everyone and fought about every little thing.

Elle made friends easily; she had a magnetic personality that attracted those around her.

Vivienne wasn’t very friendly and didn’t have many friends, so whenever Elle made new friends, Vivienne felt threatened that Elle would ditch their friendship.

For years Elle had tried to leave their friendship, it was emotionally draining dealing with Vivienne’s ever-changing mood, but, deep down Elle wasn’t sure how to do it and was a little afraid of what Vivienne would do if she never talked to her again. She knew her friend could be very mean and vindictive.

What would you do if you found yourself in Elle’s situation? Would you stop being Vivienne’s friend or just ignore it and continue the friendship?

Maybe you’re dealing with a toxic friendship right now and don’t know what you can do about it. You feel trapped and scared to move away from it.

Girls, friendships are supposed to be a treasured thing between two or more people. You need to feel safe with your friends; you need to feel joy and you should never feel fear.

If your friendship has reached that toxic level, it’s time to wipe it clean from your life and start again. Maybe you’re not sure if your friendship is toxic or not, I’ve got a few points below that will be a good guide for attitudes to look out for.

THE POISONOUS ATTITUDE

Your friend….

  • Excludes you from parties or even shopping days
  • Teases or calls you names and says she’s ‘just joking’.
  • Gives you the silent treatment.
  • Threatens to take away the friendship (I won’t be your friends anymore if….)
  • Spreads rumours and gossips about you (or other girls) but says she didn’t mean to.
  • ‘Forgets’ to save you a seat.
  • Uses social media to send embarrassing photos of you – even though you have told her not to post/share them.
  • Gets easily jealous if you hang out with others.
  • Regularly puts you down.
  • Makes the choices as to what you will do together.
  • Gives you the ‘cold shoulder’ or completely ignores you for no good reason.
  • Speaks poorly of others behind their backs. 

The scariest part is talking to the girl about your feelings. The easiest thing to do is keep the peace and hope for the best. In your mind, you hope things will improve on their own and work out.  But, what if they don’t? What if the next year or the year after that the friendship is still the same?

It’s time to take action and stop living in that vicious exhausting circles of poisonous friendships. 

ENDING POISONOUS FRIENDSHIPS

There are a few things you can do to end the friendship and walk away. It is hard girls, I’m not going to lie, taking this step will cause you anxiety and fear, but it needs to be done. God will help you get through it, you just need to lay it at his feet and take action. Below are 4 steps you can take today to get started.

1.      Talk to the toxic friend: But, not alone. Find someone that is neutral to you both and can be a ‘witness’ in your conversation. The reason I say this is because there have been times when girls make up stories of what was said and could make things worse.

2.      Talk to an adult: Councillors, chaplains, parents, teachers are fantastic people you can chat with about the situation. They can give you guidance and help you with each step.

3.      Reach out to an organisation: There are some online organisations that have free counselling and you can chat online or ring them. Some of these are; headspace, Kids helpline, beyond blue and more.

4.      Pray: Reach out to God for help. There is power in prayer and God will give you peace during these hard times. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

My friend Sharon Witt says, “Friendships are a two-way street. They take work from both sides. A great quote I read once says: In order to have a friend you have to be one first!”

Keep your communication open and make sure you nurture and love your friends.

Reach out for help and never suffer in silence.

Writer: Esther Espinoza, is the co-host of ‘GIGI on campus girl talk’ a podcast for teen girls that discuss the bible, God, friendships, boys and so much more. You can listen to their episode on friendship and find out what happened with Elle and Vivienne’s friendship.

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