Burning the Bridge

Most of my friends in my friendship circle have a person in their life who were once one of their really good friends, but are now finding themselves reassessing how this person fits into their lives. Changes in friendships are like the diagnosis and treatment of STI’s in my life, sad and inevitable. Like the diagnosis and treatment of STIs in my life, changes in friendships are usually silent and not talked about. This usually only occurs when both parties were somewhat not in a place to really care that their friendship was dying like the bacteria in my urethra after a dose of antibiotics (okay I’ll stop with this metaphor now). But what happens when only one of the friends ends up caring to tend to a friendship, and what if you’re the friend that really doesn’t care if the friendship lasts or not?

I was sitting with Blair discussing how I had to leave in 15 minutes to go to breakfast with ‘a friend’ that I really didn’t want to go to breakfast with. I had become friends with Oxfam during one of my casual jobs and we got along pretty well, but that was in the small doses that a busy workplace provided. He was certainly a good friend in many essences of the word, however his expectations of the people that he invested in were, understandably, quite high – but certainly at a level that I wasn’t able to fulfil. Particularly after I left working at that job he began becoming extremely passive-aggressive, so much so I’m convinced he gives teenage girls lessons on the subject. Whether jokingly or not every text from him was pointed with a little venom. It was not like I was actually being a bad friend, but his backhanded insistences that I was made me want to be that bad friend.

Blair was in a similar situation with Mona. Perhaps the basis of the friendship was enough to predict that it wasn’t going to be a good fit, but there was a period of time where Blair and Mona did not spend 5 minutes without a text to one another. It was incredibly impressive and annoying all at once that a man in his late 20s with a ‘real job’ getting paid more than Blair and I combined had that much spare time. He managed to keep up that many texts per work hour when we didn’t have enough time in the day to scratch ourselves or wipe the dried tomato sauce off our face. After an innocent joke at a nightclub Mona took offence and decided to lash out at Blair, refusing to acknowledge her many reassurances that her comment was in fact a joke. What was most upsetting was the fact that after all the time (literally house of fingerwork) energy that Blair had genuinely put into that friendship Mona was willing to take things out of proportion over a small issue because it struck a nerve. Blair was forced to reassess her position with him. Maybe she didn’t find all his stories about his many sexual conquests so thrilling, and certainly hearing about how hot he thought bareback pornography was less appealing.

Like Blair and I, maybe you too have had a pin-drop moment with one of your friends that have made you realise something about them that you either unconsciously ignored or never truly thought about. For me it was the realisation that Oxfam only ever assumed the worst in me and wanted me to be this obsessive friend that I never promised to be. For Blair it was the realisation that Mona was an incredibly self-absorbed and perhaps sexually addicted individual. In both of the cases, each of our ‘friends’ was assuming the worst in us. My personal viewpoint is that if two people are truly friends, in 99.9% of cases, even if something seems shady or unfair a true friend will usually have a good reason and the other party will be mature enough not to take it personally and be able to keep a calm mind and allow a person to explain any misunderstandings at a later date. It’s a simple concept really, that a friend won’t purposefully do something to hurt you.

 

We had decided, like any of the Real Housewives, ‘we were DONE’ and were going to try and transition these people out of our lives. We didn’t like the fact that we dreaded having to catch up with someone or that we were becoming the kind of people who bitched about our friends in this way.

Rasta had told me about problems with one of her long time friends. Things were at such a point that I wasn’t sure if her relationship with this person could really be classified as friends however Rasta was very reluctant to completely write the friendship off. At first I was a little confused why, after all of my championing of what friendship values were surely this would be an easy decision. Rasta said a little sadly that she wanted to be one of those people who could go to a party with her friend some time in the future and be one of those people who were like ‘Oh, I’ve known so-and-so for 20 years!’ Perhaps for that one party-trick, a little absurd to continue in a torturous friendship but the sentiment was clear. What does it say about a person whose friendship circle refreshes every couple of years? Isn’t it better to go through the fire with someone rather than be the one that took the torch to the bridge?

I had come to London and Oxfam had messaged me informing he was visiting and that he wanted to meet up and potentially travel together around Europe. I vetoed this plan immediately but gave him dates when I would be in London. He didn’t respond to that or the follow up messages and then got really mad when he texted on his last two days in London and I couldn’t meet up because I already had plans. I managed to rearrange some things and asked him if dinner suited but was greeted with the same passive-aggressiveness. Where.Was.The.Fucking.Torch. I ended up meeting with him for dinner so ready to tell him that this would be the last time he would have to put up with me since I was clearly so aggravating, but instead I had dinner with someone who had gone through a pretty tough 3 weeks travelling alone (something I can certainly relate to) who was just desperate to see a familiar face. I felt sorry, but was still upset so was completely honest about everything and told him what was on my mind, and particularly that he had to readjust his mindset about our friendship particularly because we would not be in the same location for 2 years. He took it better than I thought he would, and I suppose I was glad that I didn’t have to tell someone I didn’t want to be friends with them any more – that would never be a pleasant thing to hear.

I wish I could say things were instantly healed after this, but they weren’t. There’s still the passive-aggressiveness and I still get the same sense of frustration trying to organise things with Oxfam but at least I can enjoy the time when we eventually do end up in the same space. In my bid to become less of a person-pleaser I think I forgot that there are levels of friendship, and just because someone isn’t your best friend, it doesn’t then mean that they’re a nemesis – it just means that you’re not as close as two friends could be, for now.

 

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