Loyalty is a complicated thing. On the surface it’s good, it means you are true to those you care about and stick by the people you love. It’s a positive and to be described as “loyal” is always a compliment. But it’s not that simple.
Loyalty carries with it a duty to stick with people you’re better off without. Loyalty means that even if someone is a toxic influence in your life you should keep them in it. Loyalty means that when someone brings you down, makes you feel bad about yourself, or treats you in a way that you aren’t happy with, that you should stand by them because you’ve known them a long time or they’ve been good to you in the past.
I consider myself quite a loyal person, but not a very loyal person. I have no problem in shaking people loose who I feel are having a negative impact on my life. I have moved between friendship groups and ended relationships because my loyalty is not rock solid. And I’m okay with that.
My theory is that women are pressed to be loyal because if a woman is loyal then the men in her life can treat her how they want and blame her for abandoning them due to her lack of loyalty. It has been done to me time and time again. It is not me taking a step away from a negative situation in my life in an act of self preservation, it is me being disloyal. If a man does it? He’s “ditching the bitch” or “moving on” or “taking no crap”. A woman? She’s a betrayer.
That said, I do believe a degree of loyalty is important. Essential for the happiness both of yourself and the people you care about. I am loyal to The Boy, I wouldn’t cheat on him, I will always be honest with him, and I make him a priority in my life. I am loyal to my best friend Meme, I would never go behind her back, always seek to do the best by her, and treat her confidences with respect. These are people in my life who have not only earned my loyalty but deserve it. And it makes both them and me happier to give it to them.
But, taking all that into account, I would never make any vows to remain loyal to anybody at any cost. The only ones who shall receive that level of loyalty from me are my children. No matter what they do I shall never abandon them, never leave them behind, never take my love away. My friends, my family, my parnter… the loyalty I give to them is based on who they are as people. The loyalty I give to my children is unconditional.
It sounds quite callous, and I know that, but as I said I am okay with that. I accept it. I have been treated horribly. I have been used. I have been made to feel like my value is purely based on what I can do for others and not for who I am. When I have left those relationships, be they friendships or romantic, it has come as a shock to them. But why? Because they think my loyalty is owed to them. They think that being nice to me, giving me their love, entitles them to my servitude masquerading as loyalty. It doesn’t. Nothing will ever entitle anybody to my servitude.
To anybody dealing with the worry of breaking a loyalty in the name of self preservation my advice would be this. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t be cruel. These things are never necessary because however much leaving a negative person behind can be good for you, you do not need to leave unnecessary pain in your wake. They may not be a bad person, just not a good person for you. And that’s okay. Things can be left unsaid, pain can be left not pointed out. If you truly believe that someone’s influence in your life is only in the negative and you would be happier and more free without them, then make that step in as gentle a way as possible. Relationships should be ended with kindness and respect, never cruelty. Say what needs to be said, don’t pile on top of it any extras that don’t need piling on.
And never feel guilty. People have tried to make me feel guilty, and for a long time it worked, but now it doesn’t. Now I respect myself for allowing myself to breathe rather than being crushed under the demands and expectations of others. Guilt should be reserved for acts of cruelty, not acts of freedom.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!