THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF CHOOSING THE RIGHT FRIENDSHIPS

What if you applied the life changing magic of Marie Kondo’s tidying methods to choosing the right friendships, asks Victoria CoxArtwork: Found on Pinterest

Friendship is a constantly evolving thing. We have our inner circle of friends, our coven of trusted confidants. Then there is a secondary circle, comprising people we are friendly with but who are less likely to know our strange quirks and deepest desires; work colleagues, gym buddies or school friends.

Over time, lesser known friends move into the inner circle, whist others move out of the constellation entirely. The point being that our friendship circle is ever changing, as we mature and grow. It is not designed to be stagnant and fixed.

Some friendships gain strength year after year, reaching surprising levels of intimacy. Some fade away entirely either through neglect, distance or simply growing apart. Then there are others that come to an abrupt end, the flame of friendship extinguishing itself in a dramatic fashion.

I understand all of this. So why do I still find myself trying to maintain friendships that no longer serve me? The answer to this question can often be surmised in one word: obligation. After all, if we’ve spent years building up a friendship, investing our time and our hearts, it seems counter-intuitive to throw it all away.

But what if we could learn to accept that if things aren’t what they once were? Acknowledge that it’s time to move on, with no hard feelings?

After all, I’ve learned to do this is every other area of my life. I’ve walked away from dysfunctional relationships; shitty bosses and unfulfilling jobs without even looking back. Why not apply the same thought process to my friends?

And then I finally read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and a light-bulb went on in my head.

Kondo, a Japanese organizing expert, touts the virtues of tidying by asking of everything you own: “Does this spark joy?” and if not, thanking it for its service and getting rid of it. But instead of pondering whether inanimate objects in my apartment sparked joy, what if I applied this method to choosing the right friendships?

Admittedly my first thought was to question whether or not I would qualify as a sociopath in comparing my friendships to my heavily stained shower curtain.

But really, what if we were to scroll through every friend listed in our phone contacts and ask ourselves: “Does this person spark joy in my life?” I would hazard a guess there’s probably a good thirty percent of people about whom we would either answer with a long “hmmm…”—or else blurt out a “Hell No!”

And when you really think about it, why would we choose to spend our valuable time with friends that no longer spark joy in our life? It simply doesn’t make any sense. Until you factor in that godawful G word. Guilt.

So powerful is the G-word (evil twin of the that O-word again—obligation) that I recently found myself spending hours with a friend who I didn’t want to hang out with, doing things I had no interest in doing and wishing I was somewhere else. Talk about soul-destroying.

And so turned back to Kondo’s book, seeking more pearls of wisdom to apply to my friendship circle.

She also wisely counsels that nostalgia is not your friend when it comes to your closet—and it turns out it’s not much help when it comes to friends, either.

How many times had I continued to hang out with a friend based solely on memories of what fun we used to have together? As it turns out, way too many. Our conversations always took a detour back down memory lane, peppered with “Remember when’s?” rather than “I’m so excited for…”

Sadly, the past is the past and if the only connection is over what was instead of what will be, then it might be time to reassess what purpose that particular friendship is serving. Is this person invested in your future dreams? Do they relate to the person you are today, or only the person you used to be?

Friendships are unique. Unlike relationships with our family, we choose to enter into them. And unlike a marriage, there’s no piece of paper reminding us we’re obliged to try and make it work. We choose each other because the relationship means something to us, it brings us joy, makes us laugh, brings over pizza when we’re feeling down and out.

Whilst it may be incredibly sad to bid adieu to a friendship that just isn’t working for us in the same way—because we’ve changed, they’ve changed or it simply doesn’t jive the way it used to—it’s also freeing to remember that since we chose to get into it, we can also choose to get out.

HOW ALANIS MORISSETTE TAUGHT ME TO FEEL MY FEELINGS

The wisdom and wise words of Alanis Morissette taught me to finally feel my feelings…says Red Magazine’s Pip McCormac

“And are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” – You Oughta Know

That’s not when Alanis taught me to feel my feelings. That line, spat out from the depths of her era-defining 1990s album Jagged Little Pill was, for me, only a glimpse of empowerment. I’d bark the lyric like a helpless dog chained tightly to a tree: hollowly, with no real intent. It felt good to howl, but meant nothing. Aged 15, living in suburban Britain, quietly hating myself for being gay, I had no bite. I was meek, and this line was fun to sing, an eye on the door in case grown-ups overheard. But it had nothing to do with how I really felt.

In fact, as Alanis was emboldening a whole generation, I was learning to squash my feelings. Far better, I learned, to train myself not to be self-aware, not to study my shame at being gay. Far fewer outbursts, less look-at-me-meltdowns, if I just carried on, smiled through each day, forgot what I actually felt. Listened to Jagged Little Pill and pretended Alanis’s feelings were mine, instead.

“Thank you India, thank you terror, thank you disillusionment.” – Thank You

The next album was also not when Alanis taught me to feel my feelings. I rotated that record a lot, on my cassette Walkman, on coaches out of Bangkok, on Red Bull hangovers, on pillows made from my arm against bus windows.

Conversations about life, as a concept, took importance over what was actually my life. One step removed, I removed myself. “I’m an existentialist,” I’d declare, because of course that’s what all 19-year-olds were in 1999. I took a star-shaped stud out of my ear and left it on Sartre’s grave, sure that, if this were a movie, I’d meet my true love in the cemetery.

I played my life like a movie. I was just a role, my personality a plot point, changeable in line with the needs of each scene. Each relationship. If a boy called for me to be the ditzy ingénue, I could do it. The matriarchal carer? Done in one take. The sufferer in silence? My specialty.

My boyfriends didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know who I was.


“Lean in to your own personal growth. This will unlock your creativity, courage and self.” – Conversations with Alanis

Finally, two months ago, THIS was how Alanis taught me to feel my feelings. Self-learning my way through her podcast Conversations with Alanis, through her weekly Guardian newspaper advice columns, the 1990s rage in her voice has been replaced by a light, encouraging rasp.

Alanis, you see, likes to workshop her feelings. “Restore yourself to sanity,” she said in one episode. “The good friend in you that you can be to others? Be it to yourself.”

Sat in my self-care socks (alpaca wool, looking after my feet, my body, my mind), cat snoozing on my lap, my journey of self-discovery had begun. I’d had a breakup, but for once not a breakdown, was starting to wonder what I was really all about. Alanis gave me the confidence to find out.

For she doesn’t talk in inverted commas. There is no embarrassment at admitting she began an eight-week Imago course to help her be the person who could find a husband (it worked). No hint of the irony she was once so fond of when she speaks of “diving into self-knowledge,” or says “I thought I could just write songs [about my pain] but I found that having self-knowledge through deep intimacy and commitment was where I could find a deep healing.”

Self-knowledge, she made me realize, is key, and unlocking my feelings would not open a trap door.

When the anger at the break up finally dissipated, healthily, and was replaced by the sadness it had been masking, I knew what was happening, and why. Because I have the courage to be aware of my feelings, as they happen. To notice them, and understand them. To notice and understand myself.

Since learning to feel my feelings, I’ve been a better friend, to others and myself. More honest, less concealed. I’ve spoken up at work, begun two new passion projects, finally aware of what makes me feel lit-up. I’ve not got off with any boys because it’s the end of the date and it seems like the right thing to do, even if I don’t really fancy them. Because I know how I feel already, I don’t need a miserable kiss to tell me.

And I’m happy. I know when I’m happy. I acknowledge it, and it shines through and I feel it.

I feel empowered. And the reason I know I do? Because Alanis.

:: SOME FAVORITE ALANIS WISDOM ::
People who are in co-dependent relationships believe themselves unworthy of love and so put up with a lot, and compromise too much. Those in securely dependent relationships believe they are worthy of love and believe those around them believe they are worthy of love. YES!!!!

Mindsight –
How the mind can influence relationships, with others and with our own selves. Makes keeping the mind healthy a priority.

Autonomous healing is not the only way – 
The old adage that if you don’t love yourself, how can anyone else love you isn’t always true. The best healing can happen in relationships (romantic or otherwise) where you strengthen each other and learn and grow together. Makes sense.

On conflict resolution within a relationship – 
Talk it out. Both say your piece until you feel like you’ve been heard, and then, instead of compromise, talk it out more until you get to a place where you both win. Enlightened.

HOLY F*CK: CAN CASUAL SEX BE SPIRITUAL?

In the second installment of her column Holy F*ck, Alexandra Roxo questions if modern-day hookup culture can co-exist with a Numi gal’s desire for conscious dating and sex…

As I sat next to my two friends Malia and Loulou watching Marianne Williamson speak to a crowded LA auditorium, I slumped further and further down in my chair as she discussed that which had been keeping me busy post breakup for nearly nine months…CASUAL SEX. Her words: “When a man puts anything in any of your orifices he has unspoken claim on you”, stung me. And to add insult to injury she went on to state: “Some Buddhist teachings say after sex the energy of the other person doesn’t leave your aura for seven years.”

Shit. My aura was starting to feel real crowded.

Not to mention that on my way to see Marianne talk I had casually mentioned to my new friends how I had recently had phenomenal sex in the back of a Prius under the Hollywood sign with a TV actor in an open relationship after drinks at the Soho House. (#Cliché.) I laughed about it, but now I felt a little uneasy…

Last year when I broke up with my girlfriend of nearly two years and decided to try dating dudes again, I had a period of being “free.” Meaning I hit Tinder hard. I was still meditating. Practicing affirmations. Reading Marianne and Louise Hay. But I was also determined to learn how to have casual sex in a casual way. Remember the “Sex and the City” episode where Carrie tries to have sex like men and can’t? That was me.

But there I was on Tinder, wondering: is conscious dating and/or sex even possible through online apps? Can you explore deep sexual bliss with a stranger you drunk swiped on? In fact, can you explore sexual bliss with a stranger at all?

Obviously sex and religion is a whole big Pandora’s box I will not attempt to open, except to say that I do have massive PTSD from spending too many hours at “youth camp” where I was saved/told I was a sinner for being a sexual being. I’ve been healing from that for years as a non-religious “spiritual person,” but still many of the same judgements and questions continue to come up. Is casual sex an obstacle towards enlightenment or can it be an aid?

My friend Karley (a.k.a. Slutever) who is a sex writer and creative collaborator, turned me on to Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, who did a rad TED talk on how casual sex can be super healthy, which inspired me. In the last year I decided to fully commit myself to this quest. Oddly (or not – cause the Universe knows what it’s doing) I attracted quite a few “spiritual” dudes down for the cause. According to Dr. Zhana, healthy casual sex must be sober (at least pretty sober) and feel authentic to you. Once alcohol, drugs, and sadness enter, then it’s a whole ‘nother thing. Thing is, I couldn’t seem to get naked with a stranger without at least three drinks. (If this isn’t a sign I dunno what is!)

Then I started seeing someone. I thought maybe this was gonna be someone I would partner with for a long time. We meditated together. We have the same agents. We write and direct comedy. It seemed perfect. And it was – but only on paper. In person we didn’t get along and never laughed. So cut to the breakup, and the same night that a friend asked me to go a “very progressive” sex party. She said I could just watch and that it was going to be a great experience etc…I mean…how could I turn that down?

So in my fragile, broken state I put on a tight black dress and lipstick and got myself into an Uber, and embarrassingly sang the Weeknd’s “Hills” to the driver getting into my “empowered single woman” space, i.e. hot mess space. When I arrived at the sex party I stood on the sidelines until a man with a top knot and a jar of organic coconut oil offered me a Thai Massage. This seemed harmless enough. But then again I was drinking large amounts of Patron. And nothing under the influence of tequila is harmless.

As I was being twisted into yoga poses I heard strange gurgling sounds. When I opened my eyes I saw the woman next to me was double deep throating. I was shocked, and took another deep sip of tequila. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against deep throating – it was just that in my vulnerable state, it was all too much for me. It just didn’t feel like my truth.

I like to think that I’m “sexually progressive,” and open, and sex positive. I think I said yes to at least 2 out of 5 threesomes last year…but maybe that’s just not me anymore. Not my authentic truth now. Though, at this party I kept downing tequila hoping to “make it my truth,” and the next thing I knew I was laying in some couple’s arms, naked. I still have no idea how I made it home, though I did get a text from the wife who is a yoga teacher inviting me to class and telling me: “Congrats on no longer being vanilla!” If she only knew…

The next day I decided to stop drinking. To stop smoking weed. And to stop having casual sex. At least for now. Because none of it seemed to be serving my highest good anymore. (Did it ever?) I had put so much pressure on myself to “be free” and have fun, but the truth was I was covering up loneliness and a feeling of separation from Source.

I can see that my true freedom now lies in healing my wounds, in meditation, and safe self exploration. But my fear was…does this make me…boring?! (Um, if anybody’s watched Be Here Nowish season two I basically wrote a character that I have become! Yoga pants and celibacy!) But you know what: I don’t give a f*ck about becoming boring. I haven’t drank or done drugs in over a month, and I’ve danced, laughed, and sung a ton recently, and felt myself surrounded by beauty and magic.

I’ve also just come off a 3-day meditation retreat where I chanted and sat in a circle for three eight hour stretches with amazing humans deep in spiritual search, which is something I’ve been actively in, off and on, for the last 15 years. I realized how sometimes I veer so far from this part of myself, and thank GODDESS something always brings me back. This time in the form of a best friend who I’ve known for 14 years, Rebecca, beckoning me to Berkeley. And hours of meditation and chanting and crying and healing brought me back, yet again, to myself. The self who is held by Source, and doesn’t need to be held by random strangers.

The truth is, as much as I want to believe in the glories of casual sex, I don’t think it brings me personally closer towards Bliss, Peace, and Spirit. If it works for you then that’s beautiful and more power to ya. For me, I hope and think that having sex with someone I love deeply in a soul partner way will do that.

Until then I’ll go back to what I’ve been doing more of what I’ve loved since I was 19 years old…chanting my kundalini mantras, singing Steve Winwood’s Higher Love at the top of my lungs, making Shiva+Shakti cosmic union collages and altars, getting high off raw chocolate, and doing my girl Elyssa’s soul mate manifesting meditation.

Alexandra Roxo is an LA based filmmaker and actress who is currently developing a holistic coaching business. She has a company called Purple Milk that makes all kinds of fun stuff including the popular web series Be Here Nowish. Follow her on Insta here and read her past Numinous articles on Now Age love and sex here