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Independence is a Virtue
At the start of middle school my grandmother sat me down and told me one of the most valued pieces of advice that I still live by today, she told me, “Be careful with your heart because there are two types of love; the one that leaves you wanting more impacting you for a lifetime and leaves you breathless every time you come across its memory, and then there’s the other kind; the deceiving kind, the kind the pulls you in only to destroy you and by the time the pain begins to settle in, you’re too far in to escape. Be wary of that kind; it wears a mask.”
I wish my friend was given that same advice, because then maybe she could have avoided the heartache and abuse that she had to endure from the painful relationship that neither I or anyone else could have saved her from.
My friend--whose name is going to be kept confidential and for all intensive purposes is going to be called Sarah--and I had known each other since elementary school; she was always the confident and headstrong individual between the two of us. Being the way she was; she obviously was the first one of us to start dating in middle school. Sarah had many miniscule relationships that added up to nothing all throughout middle school—to me they were like jeans; fashionable and comfy for some time but once a new and better pair was found, they became old news.
The one good thing about Sarah was that no matter if she had a boyfriend or not she still managed to make time for her friends. Especially me. We spent the same amount of time together no matter what “status” she was and she never made me feel like the ‘third wheel.’ And that’s what I loved about her; that’s what made her my absolute best friend. It almost made her my only friend.
It wasn’t until we entered high school that Sarah claimed she had found “the man of her dreams” or “her soul mate.” We are going to call him—John.
John seemed better than the others; he was more attentive to Sarah’s needs and centered his world around Sarah whether he had better things to do or not. Sarah became John’s number one priority and Sarah became his, and I became the friend that was pushed into the shadows: forgotten.
It didn’t bother me at first because I did have some other friends besides Sarah, but the time that I didn’t spend with her started to become like an itch that need to be scratched; it was the same itch that I felt when Sarah had her previous boyfriends but it was different with her other boyfriends. With them, Sarah was completely obliged to scratch that itch, which she did when she made time for me in her busy schedule.
This time was different though. Whenever I called Sarah I either got her voicemail or her mom picked up telling me that she was out with John: typical.
I soon came to the realization that Sarah didn’t need me nor did she want me anymore. We were no longer the best friends that we used to be and I needed to accept that. She had written me out of her life and it was time for me to write her out of mine. I had to move on; I had to desert her; I had to make a life of my own.
Sarah and I didn’t speak that much; which was perfectly fine with me and it was blatantly obvious that it was fine with her. She never called, she never tried to talk to me or apologize; she did absolutely nothing.
Our lives went on and I started hearing less and less of her as the months passed.
I started to care less.
Until one day I didn’t care at all.
During sophomore year—about a year after Sarah and John declared themselves a couple—some of Sarah’s friends began approaching me and voicing their concerns about Sarah’s behavior, and also about John’s new attitude towards Sarah; his attitude was different and a tad bit more “harsher.”
My initial instinct was to blow it off just like Sarah blew me off, but my heart told me to look into. I had a feeling that something was wrong; I had a feeling that I might need to save her.
I didn’t approach Sarah nor John right away, instead I just observed them both.
Sarah’s personality had changed.
She was no longer the confident woman that I had known before; now she was this insecure little girl; a feeble human, dependent on others. She was someone else. A person I didn’t know.
One day after school, I went over Sarah’s house and sat there with her mom until Sarah came home.
When she walked in and saw me sitting there, she gave me a slight grin and invited me up to her room.
That night I made her tell me what was going on. It wasn’t easy, but eventually she told me.
It all came down to: Sarah had become so involved with John that she began to completely ignore her other friends and then one day she looked up and realized that she had marooned herself. The only person she had left was John and it was her objective to keep him there; she was afraid of being alone. Due to her need for him, she let him get away with everything: the abuse, the lack of affection, everything that makes a meager man.
A few weeks later, Sarah ended her relationship with John—with a little aggressive backup from me—and she began to pick up the pieces to her old life.
We could no longer be the friends we were before. I had built my own life and I had no interest on tearing it down. I needed my independence but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to help Sarah build a life of her own.
After all of this, both Sarah and I learned something.
Sarah learned that you couldn’t base your life on one person, because it is not guaranteed that that person is going to be there for you forever.
I learned just about the same thing; having your own life helps so that you’re not alone when that person leaves you.
Being an independent is a virtue.
In the end, you are the only person you truly need.