Sorry for the total lack of blog posts over the last few days! We've had people staying three weekends in a row and unfortunately, the clock beat me when it came time to write and share updates! The rest has however been welcome and has me all fired up to share a whole heap of new posts! I hope you like them.
I'm aware the title of this blog post sounds really negative, but in actual fact it's not! Over the weekend, I bumped into an old 'friend'; someone I'd grown up with, socialised with, considered myself close to, yet ultimately ditched when the doo-doo hit the fan! Still sounds negative I know, but let me explain...
There are many types of friend in this world; those you enjoy a coffee with due to mutual / shared circumstances, those who you'll be inseparable with for a couple of years, and hopefully, those friends who'll last a lifetime no matter how long you go without talking or how far apart your lives become. I am grateful to have had all these different types of friendship and they've definitely had a positive influence on me and helped shape me to become the way I am today. In my bid to be positive, I have however neglected to mention the not-so-positive 'user' friends; the ones we all have who are happy to take, but perhaps not give back in return - great for short periods, but will your friendship really stand the test of time?
It's worth me mentioning that as a person, I am like marmite - people either love me or they hate me, and frankly I'm OK with that! What's more, if you are a lover, and I love you too, then I'm an incredibly caring, loyal and dedicated friend who'll go out of my way to help others. Unfortunately, this has meant that along the way, I've collected my own fair share of 'users', who I've not always noticed aren't good for me, until rather too late.
A hugely positive aspect of hairloss for me personally, is that it's given me the opportunity to 'weed' and 'prune' my friendships, in a way nothing else has. Don't get me wrong, I didn't sit here and write the pros and cons of each friendship, allocating points and failing a certain percentage of my friends; but when my hair started shedding, so too did my friendships. They say that when the going gets tough, you'll find out who your friends really are, and I can safely say that for me, Alopecia was that catalyst.
As you'd expect, at times I was angry about my hairloss, at times devastated and I also of course went through pretty much every other emotion you can think of. Friendships should be two way, albeit skewed one way or the other at times, but no matter what, your friends should be there when you're finding it tough. During my journey, I had those who didn't bat an eyelid, and adapted from 'a get over it' attitude to a deeply empathetic one in response to my moods, as well as those who picked me up, dusted me down and dragged me back onto the dance floor; but I also had those who were too wrapped up in their own (at the time seemingly trivial to me) problems, with little or no time to support me with mine. I also had one friend who recoiled a little at the thought of my hairloss as if disgusted, totally unsure how to handle the fact I might soon appear as a different version of me. At this stage, I started to lose patience; going through perhaps one of the toughest times of my life ever, and there were those who couldn't avoid the subject more if they tried. As a result, I stopped texting, emailing or calling just to see how they were and I certainly didn't allocate the precious minutes of positivity to those particular friendships. Surprise, surprise, when I stopped putting in the effort, pretty much all the contact stopped too! As a result, my friendship pool probably halved over the course of about six months, and at first, realising I wasn't that important to certain people hurt like mad! Now though, I've ditched the drains on my time, effort and energy and am left with a fabulous support network, who I can rely on and who in turn can rely on me.
It's worth a note, that I am very aware that some of my own efforts during my hairloss were poor when it came to my friends, and there were definitely times when I was too inwardly focussed and wallowing, to notice when someone else needed me. I am definitely not the 'perfect' friend, but the great news is those friendships that were built to last are still going strong in spite of my then, and ongoing shortcomings.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's more important to have a few good friends than loads of not great ones, so use your own journey as an opportunity to generate a positive group. Some of it will undoubtedly be a bumpy ride, but at the end of the day, my life is way better for it!
One final point I will leave you with - I met a new colleague a few months ago who summarised every relationship in his life as 'taps' and 'drains'. He said to me 'There are two types of people in this life - taps who'll help fill you up even if at times it's just a trickle, and drains - those who'll suck everything from you and make life a bit less vibrant!' I absolutely adore this as a sentiment and for the record, I passed his test and am now someone he considers a tap! Phew!