And to tell you the truth, I’m a bit weary. This summer is my season for rest, for replenishment, for deep listening for what’s next. I’m happy to be here, with you, right now. To check in from my pool of rest and reflection.
And I’ve noticed already that there’s something about the Roots of She community – likely the raw courage and honesty of all the voices which have contributed before – that makes me feel permission to say some things that haven’t previously had a good home.
Thank you for the gift of this space, for taking me as I am, and for the invisible companionship that’s formed when you receive all that is offered here with open hearts.
Care and Keeping: Feng Shui Your Friends
My aunt once read that every seven years we should Feng Shui our friends. I remember how harsh the idea sounded to me at first, but in my experience it’s turned out to be vital to my growth and wellness, often more frequently than the seven-year suggestion. One inquiry I’m always engaged in is The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls, and a care piece I’ve become increasingly more aware of is the importance of being selective about our closest relationships, to make sure our inner circle is a nourishing, not depleting, place.
That means we have to gently usher out bad friends. In my experience, three types of bad friends show up over and over again, so much so that I needed to develop a short-hand for them in my circle. We all know by now about Type A personalities, but here are three types you may not know (though you will recognize them soon) who make very bad friends.
The Self-Absorbed: We all have times and seasons in life when we’re more high needs, but for this kind of friend one such season flows endlessly into another. She either checks out completely and goes Rip Van Winkle on you every time she’s “going through something”, or tries pulling you into the whirlpool of her never-ending drama, usually with proclamations of how much she needs you. The Self-Absorbed may be heavy on promises of being there for you too, but light on delivery. Peripheral Vision and Reciprocity are not capacities The Self-Absorbed possess.
Takers: Your red flag with Takers is a double standard. Takers will not think twice of taking whatever they can get away with from others, but are usually hyper-defensive about others taking from them. They are territorial but do not defend the boundaries of others with equal fervency. Takers boldly ask for what they want, but their requests are self-serving and spring from personal ambition, not community-building or win-win scenarios. They want to be served and supported, and while they generally function inside a narrative about how giving and generous they are, those who get close enough to really know Takers soon discover the gap between that narrative and the actual experiences of those around them.
Crazy-Makers (aka Mind-F*ckers): Perhaps the most dangerous of all, Crazy-Makers are persuasive and winsome. They attract effusive followings of true believers and are often found in the company of younger, adoring sidekicks. They enroll others into their misperceptions until their distorted view of reality becomes your own. Your red flag with Crazy-Makers is what I call the Ninja Voodoo Mindtrick, where during the conversation you cannot find anything to argue or find fault with, but as soon as you get in the car to drive home you think, What the f*ck just happened? Deep delusions plus irresistible charisma make Crazy-Makers the most destructive “friends” on the market.
Why we stay with them:
Many of us like feeling needed, supportive and important to someone else. Often it’s tempting to cast ourselves into a supporting role in someone else’s story rather than stepping into the lead in our own. Those of us who struggle to see ourselves accurately are likely to tell ourselves that we are “lucky” or “privileged” to be associated with these people at all.
What it costs us:
While spending our years and energy cast in other people’s soap operas, personal ambitions and delusions, we’re slowly siphoning off (or gushing out) resources that could be used in service of our own courageous callings. Bad friends elbow out any room we might have for community–circles of good friends among whom support flows like an effortless tide. I always worry that kindreds are scarce, but when I make space for them they have a way of coming out of the woodwork all around.
What to do:
- Check your idealizations at the door. Your so-called heroes are not who you think they are–we are all a mix of light and shadow and those who profess to be aware of this truth are not always so in actual practice.
- Get really honest about who your bad friends are and what those relationships are costing you. Preferably before they run you into the ground.
- Take an exit. A sabbatical for clarity, or a daring escape–whatever is called for.
- Create a clearing for friends who are as available, trustworthy, generous (and sane) as you are.
- Treat yourself as gently as a baby in the meantime.
- Reach out with simple invitations to people who feel safe and welcoming.
- Let trust grow slowly and avoid short-cuts to intimacy.