Having people in our lives who believe in us as much as we believe in them is vital as we enter our freedom years.
People with whom we can be real on our good days as well as our bad and know that judgement is never close and understanding resides in the space between us.
And that the beauty and the ugliness of who we are, is accepted and forgiven.
I have magnificent friends who I love being around and, no matter how big the gap between connections, feel comfortable and safe.
I honour those beautiful people, and I hope you know who you are.
There are times, though, when we need to reassess those in our inner circle.
When we are ‘mature’ enough to accept it is not about the quantity of people, it is truly about quality.
The starting point is a completely, brutally honest, look at ourselves.
If we want people who believe in us, then we need to believe in them equally.
If we want people who do not judge, then we must not judge.
If we have a list of what the perfect partner looks like, then we need to be prepared to be whatever is on that list.
It is easy to point the finger at those around us and see their faults.
It is a lot more difficult to point the finger at ourselves and have an honest assessment of who we indeed are.
Assessing those in our inner circle without looking at the pivot point is playing the blame game.
For me, it started with the realisation that there were people in my life that I was not my best self around. I had some ‘common enemy friends’.
It is something that profoundly disappoints me about people, including myself.
We are inclined to engage in ugly conversations that serve no purpose other than making ourselves feel better through trashing someone else.
The irony is that no amount of putting down others will lift us out of our feelings of inadequacy.
I think the opposite is true and a sure path to self-hatred is to place one’s focus on the flaws of someone else.
A while ago, I made a conscious decision not to play people’s games any more.
Not to engage in those conversations that serve nothing other than to vent and to diminish people that are not there to defend themselves.
Does it mean I never get pissed off with people?
I now choose to deal with it differently. Not to dramatize things to the people I knew would not only listen but would join me on my hate fest.
One of the side effects of that is I have needed to separate myself from some people, and that is never a light decision.
I am happy to have fewer, genuine friends that I can give to, knowing they will honour me in the same way.
Friends who I can believe in what they want and celebrate when they get it, knowing they feel the same about me.
Friends who do not put rules upon our friendship and I allow them the gift of no rules other than respect.
It is always painful when you start to redirect your life, and you realise the truth around some friendships.
Then it begs the question of what to do.
How does one separate from friends without causing pain?
Well, accept that this is not possible — any separation from people who have not chosen it causes pain.
I don’t have the right answer, to be honest.
Option 1 is to be brave and tell them how you are feeling. However, that option sits a little uncomfortably with me and here’s why.
Once I have soiled the air with how I need you to be, I have not accepted you as you are. That flies in the face of my friendship mantra and makes me somewhat of a hypocrite.
Slowly drift away from someone making yourself less available over time. That is painful as the other party is probably awake enough to click to what is happening, and I am sure we have all felt the burn of someone drifting away, and we never know why.
Gently tell them that you feel the friendship is not the same any more and wish them well.
While it may feel like the best and most reasonable option, it takes immense courage.
To sit with someone in their pain from your rejection is not for the faint-hearted.
The truth is, I don’t know what the right approach is.
Losing a friend is painful, no matter how it happens.
What I do know is telling everyone else about the misgivings of your friendship, does nothing to honour you or to honour them for what they did bring into your life. For those in our life are there because we have chosen them to be.
If we want magnificence and deliciousness, then we need to start with ourselves and move out.
That is the courage that accompanies living a middlicious mid-life.