Sunday 22 April 2018

Nerd Church - Toxic Friendships, and Reclaiming Enthusiasm

(Warning: this post discusses toxic/abusive friendships, homophobia, and emotional abuse.)

I was a weird kid.

At 6 years old, my passions were Beethoven, Renoir, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

I loved writing my own stories and playing games which somehow always involved more witches than princesses (although, combining the two was never out of the question!)

padlock with heart on it

A little under two decades later, I see nothing wrong with that.

At the time? No-one likes to be the weird kid.

Without even thinking about it, I started the worst habit of my life - locking parts of myself away.

If you don't show your passions, no-one can judge them. I didn't like being judged. Kids can be cruel.

Flash-forward ten-ish years, and I was stuck in what I now see was an emotionally-abusive friendship.

I became scared to share my own opinions, in case they weren't what N would approve of.

I have no idea, now, how I came to that point.

She was controlling, manipulative, and possessive.

She claimed to be shy but screamed us down - there was a group of us, all scared to criticise her - at every opportunity.

Me and The Bestie still refer to her as 'Madam' or sometimes 'Her' or 'Someone,' as if she has some Voldemort-like power to sense when her name is being invoked.

She took the boxes the 6-year-old me had started building inside myself and crammed them full.

I stopped exercising my enthusiasm or interest in things that she didn't approve of - in things that weren't of interest to her.

If we made a mis-step in the unwritten rules of life in N-world, she made our lives miserable in a way only teenage girls really can. This included liking things she didn't.

She was also homophobic in a way which somehow was never spoken - out loud she was a proponent of gay rights - but was always heavily implied. And that really did not help when I was struggling with accepting myself as I am.

To someone who has never been there, never had their steps judged and controlled by someone who thought herself superior but was also utterly insecure, it's difficult to explain.

To them, I will say this simply:

She was not a good friend.

She was not a good person.

I hold no ill-will, but honestly hope I never see her again.

And now, nearly a decade on from that whole teenage mess? Now I wanna be me.

I wanna be interested in what I'm interested in, and never, ever, lose my enthusiasm for the things I love.

There is nothing wrong with loving the things you love. There is nothing wrong with thoroughly enjoying every little bit of it.

Remember that, my dearest nerdlets, it'll serve you well. You are amazing, never forget that.

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  1. I’m so happy you had to go through that Cee :( But I am happy that you do have a bestie that you can count on now! I have had my fair share of toxic friends, my mom actually jokes that I have bad luck with choosing friends, but it’s just important to drop them if they don’t make you happy.

    1. *Unhappy

      I know what you meant Em, no worries!

      Some people can only feel good about themselves if they're controlling and undermining others. It's sad, really, but I have limited sympathy for people who do that.

      I think that we all need to recognise that sometimes friendships can be as abusive as any other relationship.

      *big hugs* Anyone who's toxic to you has me to answer to dammit!!! <3

  2. This sucks, Cee. :( I totally understand--our school is full of fake-ass people who are judgmental as heck. Not everyone's going to like you for who you are, but what's important is that you love yourself, and that you're always honest to your real personality. ♥ You got this, lovely! We appreciate you!

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    1. Ha, thank you! *hugs*

      Fake-a** people suck! I've met more than a few *sighs* Unfortunately, I don't deal with fake people well, and then everyone's like 'why are you being so rude?' and I'm like, 'BECAUSE that's her FAKE voice!!!!' Like, goddammit, how is no-one else noticing this?! Lol.

      But N was... honestly, she scared us. It took me a long time to realise that being scared of someone who is supposed to be your friend is not normal.

      And how'd you get to be so wise when you're still in school?! ;) You rock! <3

  3. That's great you were able to see what it was and come to terms with that!! It can be really hard reliving your trauma, but you heal better when you have the full picture!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    1. Thanks. I think that the fact that it was a friendship rather than a romantic relationship made me hesitant in the past to call it abuse - we don't tend to think of abuse as something which happens within friendships. <3

  4. HUG, I'm glad you were able to see what was going on and move your life away from someone that harmed you.

    Also, I so identify with the thing of locking your enthusiasms away. That's been one of the biggest things for me in adulthood, admitting what I love and not being ashamed about it. And I am so fast to get rid of people who act like it's not cool to be excited about stuff. I read an advice column lately that described someone as a "boredom missionary" (WHICH I LOVE), and I am now calling anti-enthusiasm people "apathy missionaries." Apathy missionaries! Exactly what I don't want! I have grown out of giving a shit what those persons think about me.

    1. *hugs back* Thanks!

      Totally, I think people, especially if their interests aren't the 'norm' are expected to be less enthusiastic, or sometimes just plain quiet, about the things they love. Which is sh**. And doesn't help LGBTQ+ folks, neurodiverse folks, and pretty much everyone else, *at all*!

  5. I had quite a few friendships like that growing up because back then being a bully or a not so nice person was not called that but "being assertive" and I was kind of a shy introvert bookworm music lover too. Saddest thing is I became that kind of teenager, something in the lines of "be one of the predator not one of the preys" It wasn't until college I started turning back into a nicer person! Excellent post as usual "Cee Cee"! xoxo

    [man! where did I get that from??? LOL post corrected! You must think I'm a total lunatic since I always have something that needs correction in my posts LOL]

    1. Yeah... I'm going to be honest, this was beyond being 'not so nice' - this was more like 'you are not permitted to go out with other friends without me, or speak to each other much without me being a part of the conversation, or disagree with my opinions, or say things that I disapprove of, or be interested in things I'm not interested in, and I will make plans for us at short notice and if you don't drop everything to come along then I will give you the silent treatment and criticise you, your family, the way you dress, the way you speak, the town you're from, your beliefs, and anything else I feel like criticising. In fact, I'm likely to criticise you if you do come along. But we're Best Friends. Completely.'

      When I say she was manipulative, possessive, controlling, and abusive, I mean it. I don't use that language lightly!

      I'm sure you weren't as bad as that! And if you were, then you are *DEFINITELY* not like that now! <3 <3 <3

      Ha, no worries. It made me smile ;)

    2. Sorry it was that bad �� I hope you know you have many friends thar appreciate you now ❤️❤️❤️

    3. ahh loved this post so much had to come and re-read it :) <3<3

  6. I'm glad you found a way to find your own voice and come out of your shell. Toxic relationships can be painful!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  7. I'm sorry you had to deal with such a toxic friend, that sounds awful. Glad you get to be yourself now <3

  8. Glad you are out of that and in a good place now.
    When you're young it's hard to see the big picture. It's still hard when you're an adult!

    Dinh@Arlene's Book Club

  9. I can relate to this so much. I was also the 'weird kid' at primary school and had a few toxic friendships. Luckily, I discovered my tribe in secondary school and they were all really supportive and accepting. I'm glad you can look back on the experience and see this girl for what she was.

    1. So am I - unfortunately I live in a very small town, so there's always the chance of running into her. She actually turned up at a gym class The Bestie was in, and she was like, 'should I just ignore her, or do I need to switch classes?'!


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