Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Cutting Out Toxic Friends // My Experience

This post will be entirely different to the norm. It's about my experience with toxic friends. This explains why my posting is sporadic. This explains why right now I can't do outfit posts as I want to or do a room tour posts or Uni decor posts despite how much I want to. It may sound petty and like nothing but this was and still is a hard time to navigate through, one which is only just now coming to an end. I am posting this because I need to express it in some way. Please comment below if you have had a similar experience and how you dealt with it. I would really appreciate it. 

My Story

I've mentioned before that I attend university in the Netherlands and being a brit that can be relatively challenging due to the language barrier. Thankfully for the most part I have been loving my time here and I'm a whole year and a half into my studies at Liberal Arts college. For the past 8 months, however, I haven't been truly happy with a certain part of my life here. That part is coming to a close now thankfully but I wanted to at least talk about it in case anyone else is feeling the same way. 

When I first moved here I moved into a shared house with 3 other guy students. My room was a cosy size and I did love it when it eventually looked my style and I felt at home there. The rest of the place that was communal was a complete tip but my room was my sanctuary. Then after a while I moved in with my closest friend into an apartment just for us. My room was the size of Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs and didn't have its own lock but I didn't think anything of it at the time. The flat was beautiful and light and perfect with a lovely big living room, offsetting the fact that my room could fit only my bed in it. I thought I would be just lazing in the living room mostly with my lovely boyfriend and only using my room for sleeping in so I didn't have a care in the world. 

We moved in the weekend of my birthday in May and this is the point where everything went South. My Mum came to visit for the weekend of my birthday and took us both out for dinner and then just me. She helped me move my stuff and I had a wonderful time on my first birthday at Uni. The week after my Mum went home and I went back to spending my time at the library completing my readings and assignments during deadline time. At this point I received an angry message from my flatmate and friend saying we needed to chat. The chat was about how this past weekend and following days I had spent no time at home and that it had made her angry and I had to do something about it. I tried to explain that it had been my birthday but this chat wasn't about my explanations or my point of view. Just about her opinions of my behaviour which was having a nice birthday and studying at Uni. 

I tried to put it out of my mind and continued being happy but the flat became messier and messier and things of mine kept going missing. Then came a group project in which I worked with her and another friend. This was a nightmare. The first deadline she left me and the other friend in the lurch when she had done no referencing only for us to realise 20 minutes before deadline. Following this I found more and more that only my work in the paper was being "edited" to say the least. Huge chunks of writing were being deleted minutes after I had typed them with no explanation. Any contribution I had made to the paper was wrong. By the end of the project, not one sentence in that paper was my work. It got worse and worse until the day of the final deadline when finally it was over and I went home to get lunch only to find that she had eaten all my food and what she hadn't eaten was opened and thrown back in the cupboard. I was furious and after calming down sent a polite but sharp message asking her to ask me first before eating my food. After all it was the end of a term and like most I was running out of money. The reply I got back stated that she was hungry and so what. Consequently all my friends were told by her that I was over reacting and I needed to stop. I had only told a handful of my closest friends how upset I was. She then decided I had been bullying her and refused to practise for our paper presentation which was the next day. 

This passed and for a while things did get better. However, I was working my ass off cleaning up after her and still items of mine such as underwear were disappearing to the point that every 8 weeks when I went home I was buying a new set of underwear after only having a few left. Decorative items from my room would be taken out when I was out of the house and put in the living room or her room. I kept getting more irritated but bottling it up. I was spending a lot of time at the flat in order to escape criticism from her for not being there but staying there a lot I realised that her mood swings are out of control. She was moody when I wasn't there but when I was she was constantly angry storming around. I would be cooking and turn and see her standing there scowling at me. 

The living room became her space for all her stuff and only if she liked my stuff would it be allowed there. I was unable to control anything in the flat not even in my own room which she would enter as and when she pleased and go through my things. 

Unrelated to the incidents, I went vegetarian and then onto being vegan. This girl, I didn't realise before, is very anti veggie. I was getting teased for drinking almond milk and had all the common arguments where I get asked questions but when I answer them I'm "forcing my beliefs" even though I have no right to be all self-righteous when I used to eat meat too. She also became very anti-feminist claiming that equality isn't a norm we should strive for. It was an attempt at being reactionary I guess. She'd also claim that there was no such thing as right or wrong and then say Hitler was just misunderstood and one action doesn't make him a bad person. I stopped answering to a lot of these reactionary opinions. 

For a while our house was out of action and we were forced to stay with other people for a few weeks. I stayed with my boyfriend and she stayed with a mutual friend. She told all my friends I was forcing her out of the flat we shared and I was getting reprimanded by friends all the time. Even after our flat was back in action I was staying mostly with my boyfriend. At this point I had been keeping what was happening to myself and my boyfriend and I hadn't told anyone else. She on the other hand did not offer the same courtesy. 

I found after this I was being invited out less and less and yet still being asked by her and others why I wasn't going out or why I barely hang out with them anymore. Some of my friends didn't realise I just hadn't been invited. When I was invited out she and another friend would always leave early most of the time without telling me with me wondering where they were. I tried time and time again to keep up with it all organising times to hang out or go out. On one of these occasions she and the other friend said they were too tired to go out but still I got sent snapchats that night of them laced at a party. 

At uni or when hanging out all three of us I was the easy target to be picked on and in response I gave as good as I got turning me bitter and argumentative for a while until I decided to let it go. All the talk was about grades and having good exam scores, an extremely neoliberal belief in education I detest. All the time there was constant competition. As an extremely uncompetitive person I was isolated. I ended up only having my boyfriend as my friend for a while. 

After a lot of stress and upset I decided with the help of my boyfriend and Mum supporting me that I didn't need to try and keep up with them. I could make new friends despite this being a year into the course. In trying to do so I decided to detach myself from such a poisonous mix. This has been working slightly. I have been practising ways to relax my mind because as a result of being exposed to such a tense environment I have become very anxious and cannot spend the night in my own flat. I believe I had other health effects due to too much stress and being on the pill and since coming off it I have been trying to right my body and avoid stress. 

Recently I decided it was time to move as the contract for the flat is almost up. I decided fully when recently she told me I needed to pick whether I wanted to stay or leave and that it would be better for her if I stayed in the contract so that she could live in the flat while I stayed at my boyfriends. I realised then just how selfish she was and decided to start looking for another place. This has prompted her talking to random people at uni telling them that I'm bullying her for no reason and that it's come really by surprise when I was her closest friend. Of course I hear about it all. I recently made new friends and I am enjoying myself a lot more now but I still get anxious about going back to the flat. She tells people she thinks I am an intruder when I go to the flat despite me having my own key. 

Fast forward to now. I am still looking for a place. She is looking for a new flatmate and if she can't find one she too will be moving out. I am trying to detach myself even more from her and the mutual friends we have that more or less took her side as I was unwilling to talk about her to a larger group of people. I feel much better but still not 100%. I will post more on my relaxation techniques and when I move I will be doing more fun posts on my new room and stuff like that. Please comment below if you too have had to cut out toxic friends or if you are struggling right now and we can start a dialogue going on how to help each other out. You don't have to think you're over reacting or you're wrong. If you aren't happy in a friendship then you are perfectly free to end it and I believe you should. What I have explained today with my story is only what I can remember or what I feel really contributed to it but it really is only the half of it. This is not to suggest that my flatmate is an entirely bad person. Obviously at one point she was a good friend or I would never have moved in with her. But just because someone is kind or generous at times does not discount how shit they can make you feel all the other times. 

Thank you for reading. 

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