Toxic Friends – Deep Dive

Taking a deep dive into Toxic Friends by Susan Shapiro Barash was not as enjoyable as one might expect.

Which is to say…

It was mildly enjoyable. A little hurty. But oh-so-necessary!

This isn’t a new topic nor is it the first time I’ve talked about this book.

But it is the first time I’ve taken three solid weeks to pour through it!

As I mentioned in THIS POST (in June), I have decided to take an excavator into a few of my necessary books.

The subjects swirl around relationships and trauma.

See, I’m struggling with some people in my life… and with the endings of some relationships.

My heart has been broken for not-the-first-time.

There must be a better way to function! Am I right?

And so, I have been on a quest for answers over the last few months because frankly, the repeating pattern I’m seeing in my relationships – specifically friendships with women – has become tiresome.

It generally goes something like this

I believe someone is enough like me to love me in spite of my foibles, which are many. They don’t have to be “just like me” obviously but I want to be around women who care about others, are interested in spiritual things, love nature and animals, and believe that others have generally good intentions. Less important but still appreciated are intelligence and humor.

There are usually a few – or many – good years.

Solid friendship.

At some point, and it can occur anywhere along the timeline of the friendship, one of three things happen…

  1. I disappoint them and they end the friendship.
  2. I become *too much* (too needy, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed) and they back away and/or end the friendship.
  3. They cause me or someone I love intentional harm and I end the friendship.

There are no shades of grey. No subtle markers.

But here’s the thing I keep coming back to: I am the common denominator.

So… I’m the problem? Duh. I am talking about myself.

Do ALL women have these kinds of issues?

In friendships, there are differences in how men and women act and react. This book is, after all, subtitled “The antidote for women stuck in complicated friendships” which tells you it’s written for women.

There’s a quote in the front of the book – I shared it the first time I wrote about it – but it bears repeating:

Men seem to kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it as glass and it goes to pieces. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Doesn’t that feel so true?

Why do our female friendships shatter?

This book attempts to answer that question – and more, of course!

I found so much great stuff in it, too!

I turned corners, highlighted, and made notes throughout. I took my time, as mentioned above.

I wrote the names of my friends (current and former) along the margins. I saw their faces as I read.

Quick note: This is not about acquaintances. I know and care about many lovely women. We wave in the office, say hello at the grocery store, and might have coffee. I think we all know the difference.

So…. what (or WHO) is – actually – a friend?

Webster’s says: “One attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion”

Oh, crud. There I go again…

Overthinking much?

*sigh*

Here are some things I loved about the book:

  • Barash’s liberal use of examples from books, television, and movies
  • Lots of examples of real-life friendships between women
  • Larger than normal print
  • Easy to navigate
  • Straight talk, conversational, compassionate, and easy to understand

And, when all is said and done… here’s what I learned…

I’m normal.

You’re normal.

Your girlfriends are normal.

We are ALL just clunky humans doing the best we can.

Sometimes we get it right.

Sometimes, not.

It’s okay.

Final thoughts: This subject has been plaguing me. I’ve put … say it ain’t so! … too much energy into it.

Maybe this is one of those times that I just need to accept…

It is what it is.

No more deep dives for a while. I’m not sure that it helps.

How’s that for honesty?

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