Cut ‘Em Off

Photo by Nick Demou

Cut ’em off. Not a new concept for me. I am the woman who wrote my absentee father a Dear John letter at thirteen. Yet, every New Year and every mid-year the Cutting Them Off memes circulate social media. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s cut ’em off season.

I am a believer in cutting people out of your life. It’s come up several times in this blog. However, the popularity of the concept has bothered me for a long time.

Cutting people off has become a trend when it should be a part of personal and spiritual growth. More than that, unless there is abuse, in most cases, honest communication should come first. Both parties should have the opportunity to discuss the issues openly and honestly. In my opinion, the Cut ‘Em Off moment is just permitting people to ghost each other.

Adults should communicate. It’s hard. It is so hard to look another person in the eye and-without malice-ask why they did something and say they hurt you. It takes bravery. And vulnerability. Staying walled up and saying, “I hate you” is so much easier than being open and saying, “You hurt me.” As adults, we are trained to believe that sharing your feelings gives someone else power over you. However, I am learning it is exactly the opposite. People have power over you when you have feelings but keep them bottled up. Then, any and everything they say or do can affect you. So, maybe instead of cutting everyone off, it’s time to call a thing a thing. Communication is not just for couples. Effective, honest communication nurtures relationships. All relationships.

Like with children we need to remember to name and call out the undesirable behavior, not label the person. She lied to you, she’s not a liar. It’s not true that someone is always a liar, cheater, or bad friend if they did it once. They are possibly just bad to you. It’s also more than possible they made a mistake.

The adults in my life were excellent at teaching and allowing me to develop discernment. Even still, I recognize that is not a common skill. There is a heartfelt scene from Tyler Perry play (Madea Goes to Jail, I think) that speaks to discerning when to let people go and when to nurture relationships. It’s a good reminder that every person falls into a certain category, and it ain’t always going to be a best friend. Most are seasonal and some are for a lifetime.

I remember in middle school, there was a period when I found myself with a lot of so-called best friends. My mother called them my island of misfit girls because every girl with some life crisis became my best friend. I started feeling obligated to be there for each one. Especially to this one girl who I didn’t particularly like to hang around, but felt I needed to be there for during her rough patch. Knowing her child, my mom finally sat me down and gave me a reality check with one question. Is she your best friend or are you hers? Until then, I never thought about friendship in that way. As much as we all want every relationship to be 50/50, the reality is sometimes you are meant to be the giver in certain relationships, and that’s okay for a period. After all, parent-child relationships are never 50/50. Not even when roles reverse.

That girl and I stopped talking after her rough patch was over, and I felt zero ill-will toward her. Eventually, we stopped speaking altogether once we no longer had a class together. I was relieved to have her out of my space. I did, however, begin to recognize that I had two best friends, and the feelings were mutual.

I support setting boundaries. I support clearing out the toxicity in your life. And I believe that sometimes that includes removing or limiting your time with certain people. Cutting ’em off is sometimes very necessary. It just should be done with care and intention.