Thinking about what really makes a healthy friendship and what doesn’t.
I’ve had some realisations about people I know lately, and some accusations I’ve been harsh. Yes I have been, but I feel with good reason.
When someone says they’re in trouble or pain, it seems rude to say you’re sitting and waiting for them to come to you to talk. They’ve acknowledged that help is needed. But instead of following through on that, they insist you still need to come to them. You still need to instigate it further. They’re not willing to contact you even though they’ve told you they know you’re hurting.
Even when you’re down, you’ve still got to be the one to put in the effort.
They’re willing to feign sympathy, but only on their terms.
And yes, more than one person has offered this. Interestingly they seldom actually have the time if you do try to contact them. It seems the offer is often just lip-service to make themselves feel or look good for offering, with no real intent to do more than a cursory nod, or worse voyeurism and/or use it as a vector to air their own issues at a captive audience.
Another thing is that friendships need maintenance. If you don’t talk to someone for a year, should you really expect them to be the same as when you last spoke? Should you have expected a neglected feeling of connection to remain as strong? Should I be just as willing to discuss all the same intimacies of my life with those people as I might have been a year apart ago?
When people I haven’t spoken to in a long time start offering random advice, it inevitably means having to recap the entirety of the situation, reinforcing it, digging up the same crushing feelings over and over. And I’m sick of that.
If you haven’t paid attention to what I’ve been saying up until now, why should I emotionally kick myself in the head all over again for you? I’ll stop short of saying that friends would pay attention to these things, because no one has the time to pay attention to everything. But I document stuff frequently, particularly my emotional states, the majority of my thoughts and actions go in public places, and I’m aware I have distinct behavioural quirks and mannerisms. But seldom do I hear advice from anyone who seems to have noticed these things.
It’s like being offered a meal at a steakhouse restaurant by someone saying they’re a “good friend” who yet somehow doesn’t even know you’re vegetarian.
It would be unfair to say my recent outbursts have been a “test”. They’ve been real, but at the same time I feel guilty about expressing them because I’m also aware of the connotations and reactions they may provoke.
(Generic comments from most, silence from others I emotionally wanted replies from, and a couple of jewels of hope from a few unexpected quarters.)
It’s sickening knowing you’re publicly letting go of what self control you’ve managed to regain because no one takes someone in need seriously unless they finally crack completely.
I comment mostly for myself, to create a log of my life and maybe get some feedback on some of it. I’ve long been sick of being the person who has to make the phonecalls, or send the messages to keep friendships alive. When I stopped doing that, people drifted away, which gives a fine marker on the existing strength of those friendships I suppose. A one-sided friendship is not a friendship.
Some people however have made me realise that I’ve become someone who only talks about work and stress.
I knew it was a problem, but when even people outside your expected social arena mention it, it really hits home. So did some people stop talking to me because of that? Well thankyou for mentioning it sooner if that’s the case. That’s worse than just drifting away; you knew something was going wrong and didn’t mention it.
Thankyou to those who’ve offered real help and advice, and acknowledged me as a sapient individual rather than a generic advice-column letter. You’ve helped more than it may be apparent.
To the rest, you’ve helped me realise what friends are supposed to act like, and that I’ve confused friends and acquaintances for some time.
I’m still unwell, and trying to find my way back to something like the healthy mindspace I had three years ago, before I began letting myself become focussed on just this one thing. I intend to take a break of sorts after RBW and go visit some people, where I hope I can relax a bit and remind myself of things that aren’t work-related.
And while I may still be a generic background character to most, I’m glad I’m not to all. I’m not intending to waste my time on people who treat me as if I am. I am worth more than that.
I also acknowledge this entry will likely cause both upset and anger in certain groups. It can’t be helped.