SHUT THE FRONT DOOR
Some of you have heard me use this expression, (I stole it from Lucy) it’s supposed to mean Shut the F__k up. But when you’re eleven you can’t say that, at least in front of your parents. It also means, “Get out of here” or “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But the subtext is always something is too awesome to believe. Get out of town. Shut the front door.
I decided today it could be used in another way too.
The response to Friday’s blog about forgiving and forgetting those who have hurt or betrayed us got so much feedback I realized I couldn’t let it go with that one slogan.
And then in this morning’s New York Times there was a piece called “It’s Not Me, It’s You: How to End A Friendship.” I posted it on my Facebook page only to find it littered immediately with comments.
This got me to thinking about friendships, the ending of them and shut the front door in another way. I’m shutting the front door, you are no longer allowed in here.
People don’t like to talk about friendships gone bad. Loyalties betrayed. The people in our lives who for whatever reason, have worn out their welcome, proven themselves unworthy of our affection or trust, shared values and interests that whither and take off in opposite directions with the passing of time. Family members who for whatever reason decide blood is far thinner than anger. The list goes on and on.
There are also friendships that are formed under forced conditions. Friendships made in school, the workplace, the parents of your children’s’ friends, friends and co-workers of the people you love, neighbors, people you see every day at the gym; the people you might not go out and pluck from the garden of life on your own. We often find ourselves tethered to them under the umbrella of friendship.
These friendships take very little to topple over. Their foundation is often weak and when something goes a miss it’s very easy to walk away and shut the front door
Friendships that stand the test of time are very rare. Friendships that go on from childhood into old age without a speed bump even more rare.
People are human, they are fallible, many will let you down. It’s how badly they do and under what conditions that we have to decide whether or not it is worth it to shut the front door.
I am a big door shutter. Scratch that, I’m a slammer. There are times I not only shut the front door, I bolt the back door and blacken the windows. There are times I feel that is necessary and I am totally unapologetic for it.
There are other times and other situations where I may gently close the front door, yet leave the back one open. And there are times I merely turn the proverbial other cheek.
We all have different thresholds for how much we are willing to take, how much abuse, how much narcissistic behavior, how much giving and not getting back, how many times we show up for someone, yet they are not there for us. And then of course there are the betrayers, the liars and the ones who say one thing to our face, another behind our back and when we find out they wonder why we are upset.
I’m not painting humanity with a wide, dark brush here. But we have all experienced this at one time or another from various people in our lives. And it is then up to us to decide if we can continue being close to certain people. Are they really our friends? Is it possible to sit down face-to-face and work through the issues and keep the friendship alive? Or is it in fact a friendship whose day has come? Is this the first infraction or just one of many?
For me betrayal is the worst. It has to do with my background and I have a very low tolerance for any form of it. I have been known to close doors if I merely smell it. I don’t think this has always served me well, but it’s who I am and how I protect myself, and those I love.
I tend to get along better with men than women. In fact up until the last few weeks I can think of very few men who have irked me to the point where I shut the front door.
The older you get I find the less one is willing to take. The more precious time becomes wasting it is longer an option. As we age problems tend to become larger, friends start to die, our needs and parameters for friendship change. Friends are no longer just someone to go out and have a good time with, but they become people who you hope you will see through the tough times and you them. It’s a different game altogether and if they can’t show up for you now, then shut the front door.
By no means do I think all friendships are disposable and that people should not be forgiven for screwing up or letting us down. We will screw up and let others down.
There are many friendships that are worth fighting like hell to keep, though real friendship like true love should not involve struggle. But we must have to allow for the slips and slides of behavior.
Part of growing up and older, is knowing when the time has come to shut the front door. And then as Glenn likes to say blink and move on.