Ask Maggie is an advice column by Maggie Mattuchio Flynn, a self-professed lover of all beings who has been advising her friends since kindergarten. Maggie is the the founder of The Deep Agency, a full-service creative agency supporting the wellness community, and has cultivated an open heart and deep sense of intuition to overcome alcoholism. She spends her personal time hiking, teaching yoga and offering reiki to animals.
I am part of a very large group of girlfriends and in the spring of 2019, I decided to move abroad for six months to travel, eat and get away from the noise. I moved to a little town in Spain where I perfected my Spanish and helped locals perfect their English. It was the experience of a lifetime. While overseas, one or two of these girls reached out, but none of them seemed sincere or engaged. They even seemed a little jealous. I made sure to reach out on birthdays, holidays and even when one of them lost their childhood dog, I sent flowers. So, I was pretty pissed when I got back that not one of the girls even called to welcome me home or made any effort to see me. I tried reaching out, but it was like hitting a brick wall. I was devastated. I definitely put myself out there in friendships — and I am okay with that — but this really pissed me off. How do I let go of bad energy that I feel towards friends that forgot that I exist?
Dear Friends ForNEVER,
Friendships ending can be tough, especially in big groups and it’s hard not to take it personally when relationships fizzle and there is no solid explanation. A relationship ending doesn’t necessarily have to be painful or have a specific reason. When something ends, it usually makes space for something new to begin; if a relationship has served its purpose, there is no reason for it to continue. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of friendships fizzle. My first unidentified fizzle was in third grade with Jessie, the new girl town. One day we were choreographing dances to Neneh Cherry cassette tapes in her bedroom after school, the next day, radio silence. She’d found a new group that was more into chasing boys, leaving me in the dust with Buffalo Stance on repeat. I was devastated.
It’s totally natural to feel discomfort, sadness, and even anger around friendships passing without getting the closure you might feel you need. And it’s really important to acknowledge your feelings and then address your emotions earnestly. If the relationship feels worth it — which in your case, it sounds like it’s not — you can always share how you feel or make an effort to bridge the gap. Pay attention to who you are with when you feel your best. It takes practice and commitment to let go of hurt emotions and to examine the relationships that you are invested in.
So, how can you create solid and sustainable boundaries for yourself without feeling overwhelmed? Let it be simple: remove the complicated emotions associated with anger, fear, and anxiety. It takes willingness and practice, but it’s possible. We are programmed from a very young age to associate fear with the unknown. I’m a talker and frankly, I’m bossy. My mother was always telling me to hold my tongue to preserve the peace with friends or I would be labeled bossy…which I eventually was labeled anyway. And it’s true: I am bossy and it’s become one of my greatest assets.
We are also programmed to believe that we have control over situations that we don’t. Sometimes the universe handles the details for us, and it takes practice to accept that, as well. We can’t force people to act in ways that support our egos or satisfy our emotional needs. They either show up or they don’t. Maya Angelou once said: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Amen. Changing your perspective and incorporating a few quick self-care practices can change everything exponentially.
I meditate every morning for fifteen minutes. Start small with a five minute guided meditation like this one here from MNDFL or set a timer and sit quietly for a minute or two to build up your practice if you’re a beginner.
When times are tough, I have a go-to mantra. It’s super simple and a visual reminder of the reality I am creating. Try something simple for a mantra, like I am safe or I am loved to repeat throughout your day or write on a post-it and stick it to your mirror. (For some suggestions of mantras from a former Cinnamon contributor go here, here, or here.
Start journaling. I’m not great at this one — I’m a writer but I’m more of a reader-writer. The idea of observing your thoughts and writing down the emotions and feelings openly, without judgement, allows for the space to release extra energy and negativity surrounding painful moments. Observe, record and release.
Shift Your Focus
Instead of harboring negative energy, turn your attention toward good energy and the people you appreciate. Examine the positivity that people bring into your life and surround yourself with that energy, even seek it out. If a relationship ends or you have outgrown one another, accept that this is okay and move forward. Mirror your experience to the seasons that come and go with ease. Open yourself and your heart to unimaginable possibility and create space for new relationships. In Autumn, dead leaves fall so when spring arrives, new buds can blossom.
Be the blossom, not the leaf.