Is there anyone you’ve ever given up on?

The sad truth of it is, there’s going to be people in your life who let you down or let you go. And the trick isn’t to avoid those people or those who remind you of them, but to recognise why it happened and whether it’s likely to happen again. Being hurt is part of life, but being hurt repeatedly from not learning from the mistake isn’t.

Let me put in context for you: I had two very close friends. We’ll call them February and January.

January’s mum and mine had met at mother/toddler group. We’d fight like sisters, screaming and shouting, but we’d play for hours. We love each other. We’re still friends. Because regardless of all the times we’ve made each other cry, or said the wrong thing or hurt each other’s feelings, we’ve got ten times the amount of moments of joy and happiness we’ve shared. She’s family.

February and I met at school. To begin with, she was the closest friend I had. We were both nervous about being at secondary and we found comfort in our awkward dorkiness. We’d argue too, scream, shout, berate each other. Promise we’d never speak again and then make up two minutes later. But February made friends with other people too, and she listened to the things they said about me. She sided with them, refused to hear my side of arguments and spread rumours about me.

It took me a long time to see the difference between February and January, but it was clearer to me, the older I got and the nastier February was. I had to let that friendship go because it wasn’t good for me. It hurt my self-esteem having my ‘friend’ spread nasty rumours about me, call me names and encourage people to mock me. Especially because we’d been so close for so long.

But now, when I meet people who remind me of her I keep them at arm’s length until they show more ‘January’ about themselves. That loyalty and kindness. That friendship that shows familial compassion.

Because you learn – unfortunately, a little too late – that friends from school are your friends because you see them every day. The friends that last are cut from a different cloth. Diamonds in the rough. And like diamonds, those bonds can’t be broken by anything. Time. Distance.

January lives abroad now – but she calls. She writes. I was the bridesmaid at her wedding. I don’t even know where February lives, or if her number is the same. I don’t really care. I wish the best for her, and hope the feeling is mutual. But I doubt it.

 

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