There are life lessons our parents teach us, life lessons we learn on our own, and also life lessons that only our best friends can teach us. Best friends are essential for anyone’s life. You understand relationships are when you’ll be able to truly count on a few good friends to help you out. Good friends evolve with you, learn with you, and support you especially if you support them and help them grow too.

I wasn’t looking for a friend, not someone much older than me, but that is what I needed the most to grow. Soon, it will be his birthday and I wish to tell him I am eternally grateful for knowing him and learning from him.

I know now that one person can make a difference in someone’s life. Today, what have you done today? Have you made someone happy? Have you helped someone? — that’s what matters.

I am a victim of TAR (Toxic Abusive Relationships), I am also co-dependent, and I have struggled with addictions. I am no saint — but I try every single day.

My friend taught me that time and distance don’t have power over a real connection. It was he who showed me that real “love” doesn’t leave, doesn’t run, and doesn’t fade when the roads turn and twist. A healthy person will never date an unhealthy one, especially not long-term.

When we look at the person, we’ve been dating for a while and judge them as “crazy” or “bad” or some other negative adjective, we need to take a good long hard look at ourselves. I’d been a victim and evoke pity in the surrounding people. I’d confirmed how terrible I felt about myself by letting people treat me just terribly, and I’d deflected and avoided dealing with my own issues and problems by dating people I believed were “worse” than me.

Because I believed I didn’t deserve better. When I looked at my relationship issues that way, it shocked me. Those men hadn’t been the problem.

I was the problem.

If I’d been healthier, I would have never dated them. Especially not for years!

So what was there to do?

Have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

If I am healthy, I will attract healthy people. Here are the things my friend advised me to do to be healthier:

Know yourself!

Take yourself to a restaurant you like or have always wanted to try. Sit down at your table utterly alone, and order whatever you want to. Read a good book. Take a dance class. Start writing. Do whatever your heart wants and try to figure out the truths behind them. Go back to the beginning if necessary and do those things you loved doing as a kid. Do all of this without judgment. You’re pretty special, and you should learn to love yourself.

He always showed me who I was and had the potential to be, time and time again when I was too distracted by fear and sweet nothings and empty promises to notice I had wandered away from myself, my values, and my morals.

I was wrapped up in relationships, in trying to find the right person or trying to make the wrong ones fit. I was convinced that my worth depended on who loved me, and so sure that who I was as my role solely measured a person as a girlfriend. Tragic isn’t it? And it is my friend who taught me what love was — not conditional, not dependent on circumstance or someone whispering sweet things to you in the middle of the night. Not because of what I could give, but who I was. With bad, good and ugly.

Yes, you reminded me I was wonderful and valued and important and worthy.

You’ll never be happier than when you truly love yourself and are doing things you love. Further, you’ll pick other people who love you for you when you love you for you.

I did a lot of things when I dated I didn’t even remotely like. I attended raves. In this time of cultivation, find those things you love, those hobbies or activities that you couldn’t stand being without. Do them until they’re a part of your life.

Make sure you have people in your corner: kind non-judgmental supportive folks.

I need a therapist to work through my deep-seated childhood issues and some of the trauma I’d accrued dating some not-so-great people. I also needed structure and accountability. You might have some great friends in your life that can provide that for you. Just know that responsibility is painful and that the work to change ingrained patterns is difficult. You will need help and support along the way. You’ll need reminders you’re worth it. And you are!

Those steps read easy, but like so much in life, they aren’t. Real work takes real courage. One of the best pieces of advice I received from my friend is:

“Be kind to yourself. Nothing else matters. Give, expecting nothing in return!”

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