Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Friday, April 23, 2021

Why the last 12 months has changed my friendships

iris the rescue, why the last 12 months has changed my friendships

Friendship has always been a little weird for me, I think when you're a "neurosuperhero" friendship can be confusing at times.  Growing up, close friendships were never encouraged and so it really took me until my twenties to make real and lasting friendships.  I'm lucky I have friends now that I met in my twenties, mostly in dark noisy nightclubs and the afterparties where we solidified those bonds.

When I was married I was definitely not encouraged to have friends in fact anything that took away attention from the marriage was destructed or people have pushed away for various reasons and the friendships I made during that time will remember the struggles that happened throughout, especially towards the end of the marriage.

Since then though, finding myself and learning to love myself more, my friendships have flourished, there are not a lot of them but the friendships I have are just gorgeous wonderful things I treasure greatly. 

I find that at the age of 47, I do not want drama, I cannot cope with drama and I never want to feel like I'm a burden, a duty call, an appointment in between two more important things or even worse, an obligation in someone's diary.  That just leads to my mental health being even worse than you can imagine.

This last year of covid and isolation has brought about so many paradigm shifts in the friendships I hold.  There are a couple of friends I've only seen very briefly in more than a year but you can bet when we're all soon fully vaccinated I'll be inviting them over.  Then though, sadly, there are the friends who have drifted, the one in a coercive relationship who I can't say anything to because they're just not ready to hear it and the one I love dearly who's taken a vast proportion of the year off the internet for the sake of their mental health, I can't wait to see them again.

There are a small circle though that I speak to every week, some every single day and without them, I would have been more of a mess than this last year!!  My mental health has been up and down, I mean, my mental health has always been up and down so throw covid into the mix and you just have a big muddle of a mess.

I am definitely not the person I was 12 months ago, I have had to learn to love and accept myself for who I am, after all, I've spent weeks on my own with only my pets for company, when the only conversation you have is with yourself you really do start to find out who you are.

My view on friendship is this, I think some people come into our lives and they stay forever, I think some people come into our lives and teach us a lesson and then leave.  I've always had a simplistic black and white view of friendship.  I either like you or I don't like you and because of my neurodiversity there's very little in between and if I don't like you, I can't pretend to like you and that can sometimes be an issue in a group situation.

If I look at myself I try to be the best friend I can be, at the end of the day all I have ever wanted is for someone to love me back in the way I love them and I still haven't found that in a relationship so I put everything I can into friendship.  I want to cocoon friends, I want to give them love, advice, and I want to entertain them with not just company but also readily available snacks and drinks and hugs.  My home, me, I'm a safe space, you can feel your feelings whatever your feelings are and there are things that I know that I will take to the grave because I am the ultimate keeper of the secrets, partially because my memory is so bad "insert winky face here".

And so as we emerge from the nightmare of continual stop/starts and lockdowns I hope that in time I can throw the parties I used to love throwing so much and I hope that the friendships I have now are the ones I hold for the rest of my life.


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