Most people would agree with the old adage, that “actions speak louder than words.” When someone is your friend and always has your back when you need it, these action speak loudly. That when times are tough, they will back you up. These, you know, are good friends.
But what happens when one of these friends is also an obnoxious asshole? And even a bit racist? When you find yourself holding your breath when they speak, or catch yourself pulling back on your opinions because you know a discussion will only turn into a shouting match. When you are your own worst person around them? When you frequently wonder if the friendship is worth saving? When, during a vacation together, you are constantly thinking of exit strategies, just in case things blow up? When their words are so defeaning that you forget about their actions?
Someone can be a good person deep inside, but when the external is so grating, it makes it difficult to break though. Like a cactus fruit, rumored to be quite delicious; to get to it, however, you risk getting microscopic splinters. Why not just eat an apple instead?
But you stick with this friend, because, you say to yourself, they’ve always been there when I really needed them. And I can, and do, break through the tough thorns, and when people say, “why do you hang out with that guy?” you say, “because I know he’s a good person deep inside, and he helps me out when I need him. And besides, someone’s got to put up with him. Might as well be me.” But is that all? That they are helpful and they also need you as a friend because no one else is willing to listen to them? This is wrong on many levels. First of all, you are only using this friend because you know they will help you when you need it. Second, what makes you so sure they need YOU, of all people? Get off your high horse, you are not Mother Teresa. You are, basically, an asshole.
I don’t want to be an asshole. I don’t want to be my own worst person around anyone. No one deserves that, and it does not feel good to be it. Someone can be a good person, but can have an incompatible personality to yours. In this case, is it not okay to just let go? There is no need to hold on to anything. Just take the past as it was, and move on. No one is any worse for it; there is no blame. You’re just different people.
By the time I was 11 years old, I had lived in 9 different homes with 7 different families, and attended 5 different schools. In these early, formative, years, I learned that nothing is permanent, not even bonds with people. Perhaps a few will carry on through the years, through the many changes. These constant people, like family members and close friends, may be there with you, but certainly not for everything. After all, they all have their own lives as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not easily dismiss my friends. And family - well, they’re with you forever, whether you like it or not. Might as well love them as you go along.
Acquaintances come and go, but I’ve been trying to counter my conditioning. When there is someone good in my life, I try to maintain that bond. I have a deep appreciation for genuine people. And in every moment I spend with these people I try to absorb and cherish the moment as it happens. Because I know it doesn’t last. Nothing lasts. But good friendships can fade and meander and pick right back up where you left off, or somewhere near. With good friends I try to aim for this, to be able to call up someone years later, and say, “hi, how have you been? how are you now?”
And there are also friends and lovers and encounters that only happen as they happen and never again. When you learn something, you become a better, stronger person, and you go about your lives. No need for grudges, no ill will, or bitter feelings. Just move on with your life, which, like water, like relationships, comes and goes before you can even grasp it.