This one time I was talking to a friend and we were sort of exchanging the reasons we valued each other, and the ‘compliment’ this person gave me was ‘Nash, I love you so much because …I don’t know…you’re just always there.’ While I was pouring my heart out, this person just made this one, cold, short statement and the conversation ended there.
I had to actually stop for a moment and think about what they said. And to make sense of this comment, I thought about my friendship with them as well as many others, as a whole. …and so the contemplation began.
So…I was just always there? Like existing in their life? Like a mass of matter crafted by God to selflessly serve them? Like if they needed me, they would just come to me and poof! I was there? Like if I was tired as hell, sleep-deprived and occupied with my own life and they needed someone to talk to during the eerie hours of the night–I was always there? Like if they cancelled on plans with me in the last minute, but wanted to hang out when it was convenient for them — I was always there? Like if they forgot about me, neglected me, abandoned me, rejected me, put me on the back-burner, wasn’t there when I needed them, but if they needed me — I was always there? Or more specifically, expected to be there?
I didn’t know if that was a compliment or a punch to my gut to wake me up. But they were right, I guess I was just always there. But that’s because I was brought up to be considerate of people, their time, their issues, and their feelings. My parents raised me to empathize with individuals. I grew up learning that the best way to serve God, was to serve people.
But despite all that, and despite the good nature you might posses, sometimes you have to be selfish. Not with everyone, just with these types of people. People who literally think the world revolves around them. People who are inconsiderate of your time and treat you like the back-up option you’re not. Sometimes it mind-boggles me how people can live this ignorantly and unsympathetic of others? But the harsh reality is that, they can.
Some people are just built cold. And when they see you glowing with empathy, they’ll use your warmth to heat themselves. Even if that means dimming your light and burning you out. They’ll do whatever it takes to serve their own needs.
And it took me 20 something years to finally understand and declare to myself, that these people were not my real friends nor did they possess the qualities of a true friend. That these were the kinds of people I would stop going out of my way for. That these people were not deserving of my empathy, rather they were deserving of my silence. The cold shoulder. The seen on ‘read’ texts without a response.The ‘block’ and ‘delete’ button. The ‘ignore they existed’ attitude. The ‘oh I see they’re struggling and having a tough time, but I don’t care anymore’ mindset.
But Isn’t that a bit harsh? You might ask.
No. It isn’t. You know what’s harsh? Ignoring someone who is always there for you. You know what’s brutal? Claiming someone as your best-friend and being anything but the best for them. You know what’s cruel? Treating people like your personal, self-serving, disposable, on-demand slave. You know what’s absolutely inexcusable? Ruthlessly taking advantage of someone’s good and giving nature and seeing how far you can cross them. You know what’s infuriating? The excuses of ignorance they use to back-up their behavior.
“I didn’t know you felt this way.”
“I didn’t know I was treating you like that.”
Truth is, you do. You just always got away with it. And you never thought anyone would say anything about it and continue to take your poor treatment.
Some people might argue and say ‘be good anyways because that’s what our religion teaches us.’ Yes, Islam teaches us to be kind and generous, but Islam never tells us to repeatedly put ourselves into situations and into relationships with people who continue to thoughtlessly and selfishly break our hearts. Do your part, but when the pain becomes unbearable, excuse yourself out of this situation. Islam teaches us how to deal with people who put us in pain, but it never tells us to settle for it.
It took me 20 something years to finally say goodbye to people who drained me. Who took advantage of me. Who used me. Who always gave me excuses. Who deceived me. And finally, it took me 20 something years to bid farewell to people who didn’t serve my growth or contributed to my internal peace anymore.
So let’s get one thing straight. No, I will not entertain that kind of treatment. No, I will not accept that kind of behavior. No, I refuse to keep friendships and people like that in my life. And no, I will not always be there.