Under my friendship umbrella, there is a plethora of people.
Some are true, sweet, gentle and patient. Like Ladyface E. They love me just as I am and I feel totally free and accepted with them.
But there are some who, when I stop and think about it, don’t seem to actually like me the way I am. I sense (or in some cases have heard about) their unhappiness about certain core aspects of my personality, such as my need for frequent solitude, or my commitment towards my self development. I think it triggers a response from their egos, either they feel rejected or jealous or betrayed, and it results in them making comments or behaving in ways that, in turn, let me down. And once I’ve been let down, I pull away. And they get more pissed.
So really, its all just one big mix-up isn’t it? They think I’m crap, I think they’re crap. If I really wanted to, I could sit us all in a room with many bottles of wine and cheese-based snacks, and we could talk about it.
But I have to wonder, are these sorts of friendships worth saving? Firstly because, although I have this psychological explanation, it doesn’t automatically delete all the emotions, the hurt, the anger, the disappointment. It can be worked through but do I really want to at this point – and, if the problem boils down to an intrinsic clash between your personality vs. theirs, is this friendship meant to be?
And what if they’ve let you down in rather major ways? For example, how would you feel about a friend who:
- Doesn’t reach out when you have depression.
- Doesn’t show interest in or support for your dreams. Or worse, sees it as a bad thing, or even a personal attack against them.
- Has mutual interests and hobbies with you, but doesn’t want to share or experience them together with you.
- Competes for the friendship of mutual friends and gloats if they feel they are winning.
- Doesn’t contact you but complains that you don’t contact them. Often ignores you when you do get in touch, and if they do respond its to berate you for never getting in touch.
Why would we have this person as a friend? Are they an old friend? Does the idea of cutting them off make you feel guilty? Do you keep hoping they’ll change?
Does their firm belief that you’re an inadequate friend make you question whether they’re right?
For me this is a yes. After all I am prone to depression, it doesn’t take much for me to blame myself for everything. I know I’m not perfect. I wonder whether they have their own list, like mine above, of majorly bad things they perceive I’ve done to them? Would they argue that I’ve caused them to act that way through terrible behaviour of my own? They are clever, mature adults, I can’t discount their judgement as completely ludicrous. Can I?
And what about the well-known theory that the traits you find most annoying in other people, are a reflection of the traits you most fear you possess? Do I have the traits I’ve described in my list? I sure know that I strive not to.
I guess I’ll never know, without sitting them down and talking about it. I do occasionally daydream about a chance to say how I really feel, but it’s not going to happen. I don’t want to hurt anybody and I’m pretty sure it would not end in them having a flash of revelation and thanking me for it.
I know this: we retain the negative more than the positive. We hold onto criticisms more than compliments. Maybe these types of friends represent the criticisms we hold onto. Letting them go would be like allowing myself to let go of the negative voice “keeping me in check” (read: making sure I remember at all times that I’m a crap person), and daring to believe that I’m actually awesome. Not easy!
But that negative voice needs to be released, and hold us back no longer. I have my quirks and I have my issues. They are actually perfectly acceptable parts of me, whether they are agreeable to other people or not. I’ve repressed aspects of myself for many years and now through depression, recovery and self-development, they are coming to the fore and I am changing. In a really good way. I am learning who I am.
And I love those who love me for being that person.