2014 was The Year Of The Cleanse. And I don’t mean a juice cleanse, or a series of colonic irrigations, I cleansed my “friends”.
After four years living in Australia, I got home and felt like I had missed out on so much. In my absence my friends had met men, met ladies, had babies, bought houses, forged new careers, and I felt an obligation to make up for lost time. For the first two years I ran myself ragged, racing around the country “catching up” with these people.
I got to the end of those two years and realised that almost none of those people had made the effort to come to me – I had always been the one going to them. My energy reserves were depleted, I was exhausted, I was depressed, and after a world trip, I was also a broke ass.
2013 was “my year” and the year that Hazel’s House started, on the surface it wasn’t much of a start, but the time and energy (and cay-ash) going into it behind the scenes, left me paralysed emotionally and financially.
hazelshouse.co.nz went live in early 2014, and also in early 2014, there came love. Worst timing ever, because I was trying to get Hazel’s House pumping, while attempting to maintain friendships, family relationships, and work, at a real job, in a real office, with real people, and then I also had to remember how to be a girlfriend, learn how to be a step mum and deal with the crazy ass mother of boyf’s youngest child.
I decided to start doing “buyers trips” to Sydney to bring clothes back from wholesalers who didn’t ship to New Zealand. The day I got back from my first trip, my dad got sick. By sick, I don’t mean man-flu-sick, I mean almost-died-in-the-passenger-seat-of-my-mum’s-car-on-the-way-to-A&E-sick. My poor mum, I asked her, “were you worried mum? That dad was going to die?” and she replies, “well, I must have been a bit worried, because I was doing 100km in an 80km zone – that’s pretty serious”. Oh the lol’s.
Dad spent four weeks in hospital, and mum’s brother was in palliative care in Queensland, Hazel’s House was under performing (which is student report writing code for “a fucking nightmare”), emotions were high, as were the levels of sleep deprivation. Days were spent at work or at the hospital with dad, and nights were spent staring at the ceiling, looking for the answers to life’s problems.
With all of this going on, it was text messages from “friends” that said: “Hey stranger! Long time no see! Must catch up xx” that would almost push me over the edge. Such text messages don’t absolve the sender from any friendship responsibilities, that doesn’t constitute making plans, or an effort, or even a genuine attempt at contact. These messages were ignored.
Ignoring these messages would then make me a “bad friend”, and I would then get the “Hey hun, did you get my last text? Didn’t get a reply? Was going to suggest a catch up this week, but since I haven’t heard from you I guess you’re too busy?”. Here’s an idea, pick up the phone, and make a call, or if that’s too hard, send me a text message something along these lines: “Hey you super amazing goddess of love and light, I miss you, let’s catch up. Are you free for lunch next week? I can do Wednesday at 12:30 at Sugar Bowl, or I can do Thursday at 1:00 at Two Birds, let me know xx”
So long story short, I had a cull. Anyone who sent who sent me “I never see you anymore” messages while dad was in hospital: culled. Anyone who extended a last minute invitation to dinner, and then asked me to bring a salad, some meat and something to drink: culled. Anyone who I made plans with who then turned up and bitched about their friends, their partner and their parents the whole time: culled. Anyone who I only heard from after posting an album of new arrivals to the Hazel’s House Facebook page: culled. People who seemed to take a perverse pleasure in relaying to me the uncomplimentary things others had said about me behind my back: culled.
As well as being The Year Of The Cleanse, 2014 was the year of exercising my right to refuse. You spend years, as a teenager and a young adult, thinking that you need to say “yes” to everything. People who say no are boring, they have no mates, they get overlooked for promotions, and they stop getting invited to fun stuff, right?
So I would say yes to every task at work, every office lunch, every birthday dinner, baby shower and house warming. I would run myself ragged attending social functions where people expressed no gratitude for the fact that you drove 2 ½ hours to watch the gift you lovingly picked for their one year old get chucked in a pile of presents.
I would be up early making salads and marinating meat for BBQ’s that I would attend, to eat with friends of friends that would completely ignore me, or worse, would whisper behind their hands and look pointedly in my direction. All that effort and high school agony, to grasp a 20 second conversation with the hostess, and then wait an appropriate length of time to excuse myself, resisting the urge to clear some Hazel’s House emails at the dinner table.
I was buying hand picked, hand made gifts for unborn children, whose conception I found out about via Facebook, and making mini meatballs and plates of crudités to contribute to the baby shower fare, only to find out weeks later that the child had been birthed, and had a gender, a name and a birth weight – via Facebook.
So, I started declining invitations, and I stopped feeling like I had to have an excuse. Now there’s a difference here, between declining invitations and cancelling plans. I have literally been sitting at the table, alone, at a Thai restaurant, and had a friend text to say that her child was sick and she couldn’t make it to dinner. I have also been at the movies, purchased tickets for me and a (different) friend, and had her text and say that her child was unsettled and she couldn’t make it. That’s not declining an invitation, that’s wasting someone’s time and taking them for granted.
I’m talking about flat out declining an invitation, and being OK with it. As soon as possible after receiving an invite, you just RSVP, express your thanks for the invitation and advise that you won’t be attending – it’s easy. And you know what, your real friends will understand. The ones that won’t understand are the people that were going to text you the night before with a list of items from the Hazel’s House website that they were wondering if you could bring with you if it’s not too much trouble.
In this messed up age of over-communication and massive misunderstandings, you can decline an invitation to your friend’s douche bag partner’s 30th birthday party (BYO booze, a plate and a gift), simply by clicking the Decline button on the Facebook Event page.
So all that culling and all those refusals have left me with very few friends, which sounds a bit sad, but the happy part is that I kept the good ones, the solid ones, the loyal ones, the ones who love me when I’m not very lovable and support me no matter what – and those are the only ones you need.
The climax of this story, and the bit that I am most excited to tell about, is that I declined my first wedding invitation! Contrary to my last blog about weddings, I do enjoy a good wedding. There’s nothing quite like spending a sunny day watching your friends get hitched, and then drinking and dancing the night away with some of your fave people.
However, this is a wedding invitation by default. The boyf is the best man, and I’m his plus one. Situation seems pretty straight forward, as the best man his attendance is compulsory, and as his plus one, my attendance is inevitable, right? You know, I just wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to start 2015 regressing, I didn’t want to get into the habit of being that people pleaser who puts everyone’s happiness before her own, and so I told the boyf I wasn’t going.
I braced for a fight. I waited until he was sitting down and I was standing up – asserting my dominance. My stance was strong – hands on hips, face serious, and he said “that’s OK, you don’t have to go”. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails! I was ready, I had a list of all the reasons I wasn’t going, I had rehearsed my rebuttal in the car, in the shower, and lying in bed the night before, and for what? For him to shrug and say “no wozzas mate”?
I’m not one to waste a good speech, so here’s the reason I’m not going: I don’t want to.
I’ve just spent two weeks in Australia with my amazing family. Hazel’s House has been closed for three weeks, I need to make candles, and do crochet, and order courier bags. I want to try out a few ideas that I’ve stolen from the world wide web, that will no doubt turn out nothing like I had hoped. It’s a Sunday wedding, which means a hungover Monday at work, and I am waaaay to old for that.
Also, the couple whose wedding it is, they have made less than no effort. In the first four months that boyf and I were together, I had them over for dinner twice, and I planned and delivered two full weekends away for us as a group. I know, up until now, I sounded like an anti-social grumble guts who culls friends and declines invitations, but I actually enjoy entertaining, and going away, I always like to make an effort with people – but only to a certain point.
In the year since boyf and I matched on Tinder (remember, the Tinder blog? He was the one in the white shades, drinking a can of premix bourbon and cola, holding a dead fish and standing in front of his WRX with gold rims!), the number of times we have been invited to dinner, or away for the weekend, or to go anywhere at all, or do anything at all: zero. I’ve actually been to a social gathering at the house of a mutual friend, this couple were in attendance, and I was completely ignored – not even eye contact.
So I asked myself: ‘Why should I go to their wedding? Isn’t attending the celebration of their matrimony a little hypocritical of me? Do I want to sit awkwardly while boyf is standing up front, sweating his ass off in his three piece suit, and then stand awkwardly, drinking sparkling wine while boyf is off getting his photo taken, still sweating his ass off in his three piece suit? Do I want to sit awkwardly (again) during dinner and speeches, no doubt drinking more and more of the sparkling wine, and then dance like no one is watching as a symbol of my free spiritedness, aaaaand drink more sparkling wine? Then, for the grand finale, do I want to get in the cab to go home, get instant motion sickness and then spend the drive home spewing out the window?’
The answers were easy: I shouldn’t go to their wedding, yes, it would be hypocritical, and no, no, no, no to the sitting awkwardly, the standing awkwardly, the interpretive dance and the sparkling wine. Just no.
So if 2014 was The Year Of The Cleanse, what will 2015 be the year of? Well at this stage my request is simple, I would like something that I have tended closely, and loved, and talked to, to come to fruition, I would like January to be The Month Of The Kumato.