I was talking to QP today about someone in my life (who we will call Beaker) and I thought I’d share her insight because I found it extremely helpful. I swear she should do this stuff for a living!
I met Beaker almost two years ago. She’s close to my age, and I thought we would be fast friends. At that point in my life the less I knew you, the more I would be vulnerable and tell you my most intimate thoughts and feelings right off the bat. Then, the more I knew you and the closer we got I would become more and more withdrawn and scared by that intimacy and vulnerability. Completely backwards from most people, I know. No one ever said I have all my ducks in a row, that’s for sure.
I overshared as usual, but our relationship stalled out at drinking buddies. I did however guess from day 1 that she is bi and asked her about it. She was very deep in the closet, so I had somewhat of an inside track on knowing her. I shared her secret with no one, because that is definitely not my story to tell.
Beaker started having personal problems with her partner and had no one else to talk to about it so she opened up to me. I made a significant effort to try to take this friendship to the next level and truly wanted to help her. I should mention that during the whole time I have known her, when she gets in bad moods she tends to isolate and stop talking to me. I originally overlooked this and just accepted the roller coaster as part of her personality.
Even though I was going through my own troubles with my depression and anxiety I really put myself out there and offered her the best support and advice as I possibly could. Generally I am not well versed in empathy so it really was a large stretch for me to be there for her. But I did it. I invested every emotional penny I had into helping Beaker through this tough time.
After awhile I noticed we were having the same conversations over and over. I would recommend the same things, show her the same paths she could choose, but still she asked me again and again what she should do. At some point I gave up asking her how things were going because I really was emotionally wasted and had nothing else to give to this endless circle of “what should I do’s”. She stopped seeking my support and advice, probably noticing my lackluster reply to her conundrum.
Fast forward to 3 months ago. I was hospitalized and had to have surgery. I had mostly given up on the idea of being friends with her, but still reached out to her so she would know what was going on with me. Again I divulged personal details regarding my feelings toward the surgery. It was met with coldness and lack of care. I gave up and focused my attention on people who did care about my health and well-being so we stopped talking for several months.
Now I am back to my normal day to day routine and Beaker is in my life again. However, she is not really speaking to me and giving me the cold shoulder. I have pretty much given up on trying to be friends with her, but it is hard for me to shut her out completely. First of all, I have no choice but to see her every day. That is unavoidable. Lately I have just been cordial but not putting myself out there at all. I have accepted we will never be besties, but I’m having trouble finding the fine line between trying to befriend her and getting hurt repeatedly, and completely shutting her out.
I wear my feelings on my sleeves so I have a hard time being fake towards people that I don’t particularly like. I’ve been wearing headphones to avoid feeling the urge to communicate with her, but I feel like since I have to see her every day that is a temporary fix. She also has been cold and uncaring regarding my recovery from surgery which is painful to me. There has also been gossiping behind my back and overall rudeness.
In her immense wisdom and knowledge, this is what QP had to say about this situation:
“If you define success as “she no longer sucks”, then this will always be a fail. But if you redefine it to mean “I’m no longer upset by her suck”, that’s more realistic, and it seems like in that way things are changing. Now that you see that “she doesn’t suck” is unattainable, the good news is “I’m not upset but her suck” is totally doable! And you’re doing it. Accepting that you won’t be besties isn’t really the same as writing her off. There’s a lot of gray area there. You can’t force a relationship to be what you want it to be or think it should be. Water finds it’s own level.”