As an ex-Christian (and a devout one who studied theology for fun kind of Christian) I have a lot of “say no to “let’s meet up for coffee!”” posts about enforcing boundaries while deconstructing on my social media feeds. Which is super important and I whole heartedly support those “no”s.
But why? There is an assumption here that isn’t being talked about as clearly as I feel it needs to be. When the “friends” ask “let’s meet up for coffee!” they are being false. They don’t want coffee. They want confrontation. They want to address what they see as a deviation from their expectations of your life. That, friends, is *toxic as fuck*.
I’m not saying true friends won’t invite you out for coffee to address sudden, or even subtle, changes in behavior. They will. They should. What I am saying is that true friends will invite you out for coffee to listen, not talk. We all change. All of the time. And the course of our lives will shift. Sometimes subtly, other times drastically. If you had told me 8 years ago as I was walking down the aisle that not only would I whole heartedly abandon the fuckery that is American Christianity, but be in a polyamorous relationship and understand myself as a witch – I’d have freaked the fuck out. And yet, if you ask me about it now, I can calmly and rationally explain (granted, with the use of curse words, not even remotely sorry) that my deviation from my original “life plan” is actually a heart felt continuation of my deeply held beliefs about the nature of the divine, justice, and love.
That rather than a deviation, I see my current path as a natural exploration of my values once the destructive influence of the patriarchy was removed. Once the ways in which I expressed my values were no longer dictated by a completely arbitrary set of rules, my life is what happened.
And I am currently supported by friends who understand that, even when our values are not identical, or do not express themselves identically. But I wasn’t always. When I was beginning this transition, in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t have a solid friend group. And I listened to friends I shouldn’t have. And it almost destroyed my life. Not because of my life choices, but because of the way they were framed by my “friends”. I began to doubt myself. And that’s when the real problems started.
My friends, well meaning though they were, had an agenda for my life. Monogamy was part of that agenda. And it almost ended my marriage. The toxic trait isn’t the questioning of the change. It’s the refusal to consider the why. It’s being convinced that there is only one right way. Denying individuality, denying personal revelation, completely unable to address discrepancies in common belief systems, and worst of all, using friends as surrogates for their own problems and projecting issues onto them.
*cough* married people with their own damn problems *cough*
And fram, the only way of finding those people is to be those people. My network is incredibly diverse. Polyamorous families, monogamous families, agnostic, atheist, buddhist, pagan, Christian, sex workers, transgendered uncles, boy scout leaders, in the closet, out of the closet, parents, childless, and a missionary. But the one important thing to note is that not a single one of those choices, be it a lifestyle choice or the choice to live authentically and loudly, was made because it was expected of them, or because it was society’s default. Every life is lived because they examined themselves and decided the best way forward.
No one in my circle thinks that there is a way we are supposed to be other than kind. Each way is authentic to the person living it. The end. And the beginning. And the middle. It’s the most supportive, encouraging, loving community I have ever been a part of. I have watched so many women heal.
So when decided which people are truly your people – please remember to say no to anyone who is invested in your life looking a certain way.