On Friendship

Posted Sep 17 2012, 1:12 pm in

I learned I’m not a very good friend this weekend.

I like to think I’m a nice person – a good person – someone who knows what’s right and what’s wrong and does her best to stay on the right side of the line. I’m sure I’m not alone. I imagine everyone thinks this way about themselves. We’re wonderful, we’re moral, we’re good, and every bad thing that happens to us isn’t our fault – it’s the fault of all those a-holes out there who just aren’t as good as we are.

But lately…

Lately, I’m not feeling the things I should be feeling.

I feel – I don’t know – restless, I suppose, like there’s a slow burning fuse inside me. I have these violent bouts of temper that I don’t see coming half the time. One minute, I’m cool and the next – BOOM! Mount Vesuvius. Things I used to love aren’t so interesting. Things that used to make me laugh just aren’t so funny anymore. Since my mom died, I feel adrift and alone and as of this weekend, was told I’m not the person I thought I was.

I’m stunned by this realization.

True, I’ve been selfish and impatient and intolerant and so frustrated, I can’t see straight. But over the weekend, I ended a twenty-year-old friendship because all those feelings had reached critical mass. It started back when my mom was in the hospital; a friend asked my advice on something BIG. I gave it.

She ignored it. She ignored my advice and did this BIG thing that’s wrong on pretty much every level you can name. In my opinion.

A good friend is supposed to swallow down her feelings of outrage at this and just continue listening to her friend lament the results of this poor decision. A good friend is supposed to be supportive and positive and blow rainbows and sunshine up your butt and hug you while you cry that your life is ruined.

I’m not that friend. What I SHOULD have done was stopped her immediately and told her I just wasn’t up to dealing with BIG decisions at that time. But I didn’t. I tried to be the friend I thought she needed. In the five months that have passed, I suggested things like seeing a doctor, requesting medication, changing jobs. I advised doing NOTHING more to compound this error in judgment so that the healing process could begin. Anything else is like picking at the scab of an infected wound. I thought THIS was being supportive and loyal. I was wrong.

I’m trying to deal with the loss of my mother, trying to squeeze writing time into a day that’s so packed with conference calls and chores, I frequently don’t have lunch until three in the afternoon and still, dropped everything when my friend called to answer MORE questions- sometimes two, three times a week — all variations on the same theme: what she should do after she did the last thing I told her not to do. I even DID NOT GET MAD when she cut me off in the middle of a sentence to change the subject back to her.

I thought that was being nice.

I was wrong again. My patience snapped when she told me about her latest foolish deed that ended EXACTLY as I’d predicted it would – damn it – I’m doing it again.

I’m tired. I’m just so tired.

Friends are not supposed to kick each other when we’re down. We’re supposed to lie and tell each other everything will be just fine when nothing can ever be just fine again. We’re NOT supposed to be honest and tell each other when we f*cked up and we’re certainly not allowed to lose our tempers because that’s just not nice, is it?

OKAY! There it is. Proof I’m not nice. If you consider me a friend, run now and save yourself.




2 responses to “On Friendship”

  1. Ali says:

    Oh, Patty.

    First of all? You ARE a good person. And you are a good friend. Because, honestly, in the middle of everything that’s happened (your mom) and the aftermath (there’s not switch to stop the feelings and the pain etc) — the fact that you took the time to be there? That’s a big deal.

    Given that the didn’t agree with the situation/decisions etc, you did the right thing as a friend — and tried to manage your feelings. You still tried to help. That, right there? Is being a good friend.

    The thing is, I don’t think your friend was being considerate of YOU. I know what you’re going through, because we’re in similar situations. It sucks. I think that it’s a good friend’s prerogative to be there for you.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think a good friend is supposed to lie and tell us what we want to hear. I think, often times, what I value most is complete honesty. Because it’s those moments that lead to revelation, growing, and learning. The other day, someone told me something about myself, and at the time, I was like, “What? No.” But then I thought about it — and that person? Totally right. It wasn’t said in a mean way, but often the delivery matters.

    I think that you are still reeling from all the emotional debris of your mom’s death. And you know what? That’s normal. You’re human. I think that maybe you need to back away from some friendships or people who are a drain on you. Under different circumstances, you’d handle it easier. But right now? Who needs that shit.

    I know, firsthand, what kind of a friend you are. And you are a damn good friend. We all lose our tempers, flip our shit, or just have BAD days, sometimes. The people who love us? Love us anyway.

    I am sending you heaps and heaps of hugs and love.

  2. Okay, first you need a good hug. {{{hugs}}} I only wish I could give you a real one, because you need one.

    Here’s the thing. Your friend wasn’t really your friend, as sad as that is to say. Friendship is a two way street and if she wasn’t supporting and encouraging you too, she was just a user. And as hard as it is it accept, you’re better off without her.

    And lastly, Sweetie, you’ve been through some major life transitions here. Your mom died {{{hugs again}}}, your book just got published. Even though that’s exciting, it’s still stressful. You need to surround yourself with people who love you and value who you really are. A totally awesome person. Anyone who doesn’t see that and appreciate you doesn’t deserve you.