One minute you are washing the dishes from your family’s Taco Tuesday dinner, the next you are fighting to breathe after your husband drops an atomic bomb into your lap that destroys you, your marriage, and your kids. Everything in a 20-mile radius is reduced to ash. I can’t quite describe the feeling of having the earth beneath you fall away, leaving you flailing and frantically grasping for anything that makes an ounce of sense or gives you the slightest piece of solid ground to stand on. In the initial phase, you would perch your entire body on top of a grain of sand if that sand was solid and safe, engaging every ounce of your mediocre core muscles to hold still. You scour the ground for something, something that won’t give way under the weight of your pain. The total disorientation I would say is frightening, only until a new word is created that goes so far beyond frightening. You no longer know which way is up, what is real, what day it is, who you are and where you have been all this time. It’s as if your life is this really adorable snow globe with kittens and cotton candy, and some real cruel m-fer is waiting for the dust to settle to shake that shit up so the kitten dies a horrible death and some jerk steals your cotton candy.
Once the initial shock subsides, you have to start to sort through everything for a narrative that makes sense and you can live with. You reach out to people who you love, who always start with being shocked and tell you how you deserve better, how unfair it is that this happened. Then, very quickly, you begin to see how stereotypically people fall into archetypes.
1. The know it all
This person knows everything, usually before it happens and yet never ever warns you or tries to help you. Their extreme clairvoyance is always revealed after the fact. This person just knew he was not right for you, he had Mommy issues, he never loved you. Yet this person sat there year after year suppressing this information which would have saved you from intense pain. Now that the worst has happened, they revel in telling you how blind you have been and they could have told you this would happen. These people are the absolute worst, they should be cut immediately from your support circle, they do not serve your higher good.
2. The one-upper
No one in the history of the world has ever enjoyed the company of the one-upper. This person always has it worse, or if not them their second cousin thrice removed did, or their co-workers sister best friends mother. Your dog died? Oh too bad because my aunt Sally’s neighbor’s dog was abducted by aliens, returned home with a robotic arm hook which it used to murder the owner and burn her house down. You know these people, and let’s be honest, you really dislike them. They may be fabulous in every other area of their life, but when it comes to supporting you they need to be taken out back and killed by the dog with the robotic arm hook.
3. The flamingo
You know where I am going with this. This person will listen to your tale of woe once, and then promptly bury their head in the sand. They simply cannot handle anything “real.” Please trust me on this one, after much therapy I have learned that this is not a reflection on you, or what you mean to them. These people are deeply flawed and have more issues than Time magazine. Flamingoes can be wonderful people, just not wonderful when you need them to support you.
4. The secret psycho
I actually love these people. They are your friends who are fun to be with, but somewhere in the back of your mind you always know there is the possibility that they will burn down her boyfriend’s house if he doesn’t return her text messages. If ever you need to rob a bank, this is who will drive the getaway car. This is your friend that upon hearing the news will offer to set you up, sign you up for Tinder, suggest you sleep with his best friend, and then key your husband’s car. Secret Psychos without a crisis usually appear level-headed and kind, but their passion for justice and concern for you turn them rabid. You want these people in your corner because if they’re aren’t with you, they are against you and that is terrifying.
5. Miss. Obligatory
Miss. Obligatory will tolerate your woes because, in your previous life, they enjoyed your company. Once the shit hit the fan, they are wholly disinterested, they like the you from before and are biding their time until that you returns (spoiler alert- it never will). You can very easily pick this one out, their response and advice is generic and surface level. They are politely responding to your pain but they don’t really want to dig deeper. This is a superfluous friend, you can relegate them to someone you invite to girls night or a dreaded “let-me-sell-you-something party” that you get roped into because they’re not terrible to be around, but the buck stops there. No more inviting them into your pain because they aren’t interested.
6. The Nosey Neighbor
When you have to check to make sure she’s not outside so you can run to your car, you have a nosey neighbor. You probably have someone in your circle of friends who falls into this type. They want to know all the details, the more salacious the better. Not because they want to help you, or support you, but because they have to know, it feeds their curiosity and makes them feel so much better about their own lives. Maybe they’re writing a book, in which case they should be respectful enough to thank you in the credits, or cut you a royalty check. Either way, these people are not worth your time and energy.
7. The outlier
The outliers are the people who never judge you (or him,) who are willing to listen and always offer support. They give you gentle guidance when you are struggling and yet are willing to tell you the hard truths you don’t want to face. They are loyal to you but unafraid call you out when your straight up bananas. You can spot them because you feel richer when you talk to them; they are able to see and remind you of your beauty and embrace your flaws until you are able to embrace them yourself. Outliers inspire you to learn what you can from every single situation and deviation. If you have one or two of these people in your life you are insanely lucky. You should hold onto and value these gems above everyone else. When you are frantically searching for something in this world you can trust and rely on, these people hold you up so you don’t tumble into the abyss. Once you are strong enough to build your own solid ground they gently let you down and stay close by to cheer you on.
Once you know the archetypes you can sort through your circle and identify who is who and weed out the ones who do not serve your higher good, even if you love them dearly. You can decide to keep them in your life, but it might be best not to lean on them when you are at your worst. The larger lesson I have embraced from this experience is that I needed to really take an honest look at which archetype I was, and which did I want to be? I so very deeply appreciate the value of the outliers in my life and without a doubt, I want to be able to return the favor when I am needed. This required an overhaul of my base instinct and a lesson in listening, supporting, applauding, and being honest when it’s easier to avoid. Sometimes it requires holding back on the “I told you so’s” and maybe we don’t suggest they do all the crazy stuff, even if that is our inclination. The world is scary, life is unpredictable and hard at times and everyone needs that stable ground when their snow globe is shaken. My outliers have changed my life for the better. I have become much more aware of which friend I choose to be if the people in my life need someone to remind them just how enough you are, I’m your gal.