Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Matter of Friendship: Don't Make Me Choose Sides

Over this past year I've had a lot of different situations come up to make me contemplate the meaning of friendship.  I've already posted on how to treat friends that you get, and how to keep them, how to respect them and what kinds of things that you should look into, or be aware of, as a friend.  And especially, don't make me choose sides.

Now I feel like I've had a few more experiences recently, to quote a friend, "That have tapped out my emotional bank account."

Now, just as any person could attest, I know I'm an emotional kind of person.  However, my husband has really mellowed me down over the years since he's the most easy-going guy I know.  He can suck out the anger and hatred and change it into comfort and peace.  Of course, two of my most favorite animated shows over the years have those as their overriding themes:  Trigun: "Love and Peace!" and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Love & Tolerate" (and friendship being magic of course that has honesty, loyalty, generosity... to name a few of course.

However, if someone continues to tap out this emotional bank account, you'll see a backlash of emotional overdraft fees, so to speak, that I come back with.  My mother used to get the brunt of this growing up, but so did many of my friends when I just couldn't take it any more.  If they would get angry with me, and not want to talk about it in a civilized manner, but rather either yell, throw things, stop talking to me altogether, or walk away, I don't take that lightly.  I want to work through things, and maybe when I was a teenager living at home, it doesn't work that way.  I work things out rationally through writing most of the time as I can put my thoughts down on paper without getting ran over by some emotional person.  If you make me do it in person I cuss, I yell, I get upset and slam doors... but leave me alone for some time and I'll come back down once I calm down.

I mentioned such a thing awhile back as a friend decided he was going to divorce his wife and immediately took to the task of making us hate said wife.  I liked her, my husband liked her, we said as much that we still wanted to be her friend.  We had noticed some strain in their relationship over the years, but as we've had over four months to mull this through, we realized much of that strain actually came from him.  But he makes it impossible to tell him that, and when there was a huge blow up a few weeks ago and he 'de-friended' us on Facebook...I refused to have him back.  It was too much.  I was tired of the emotional stress and tired of feeling like I'd have to constantly stick up for my friend against him.  When my husband talked to him again, he tried again to turn us against the (now) ex.

Friends don't ask friends to hate another person.  They should NEVER ask another friend to take their side.

It feels like I'm in Junior High all over again!

In Elementary school, you become friends with your classmates.  After all, most of your classmates stay that way throughout the first five or six years of your life.  Sure, some larger schools will rotate children, but for the most part you keep your friends, especially those who live in your neighborhood.  When I headed off to Junior High, suddenly there was a whole new group to make friends with, and since my best friend wasn't in the same grade as me, I had to make friends with someone.  I became "trash girl" during lunch time so I could stay friends with the girls I already knew, but after a semester of being laughed at and ignored, I decided to start eating my lunches on my own away from them.  I discovered a new friend who said she felt sorry for me, and as I was eager for friendship, I clung to her small group of friends and those friends stuck around through most of Junior High.

Unfortunately, the best friends I had in Elementary were upset with me for finding new friends.  I invited them all over for my birthday party when I was 13, but my 'best' friend got upset that I didn't ask her to spend the night with my 'new best friend' and thus for a summer I hardly heard from her.  I didn't want to hurt her feelings as she didn't know any of the others I had invited over since she was still a year behind us.  But... being forced to take sides, I did.

I do regret it, taking sides, although I talk to both of those friends from time to time online, none of us are really 'friends', but more 'acquaintances'.  Why?  Because the 'new best friend' I found had a hard time talking about anyone but herself.  She still does it, and though I've called her out on it and we stopped talking for awhile, eventually came back and started talking about herself again, and I realized that was how it was always going to be.  So if I wanted to hear her talk about herself, I'd talk to her, but I realized I could never expect her to want to know about ME.  The other friend, I realize later, was pretty much the same.  But I only really realized that later in College when people would actually ask me about how things were going and wanted to know about my life.  I suddenly knew what a real friend was like and it was a relief that I wouldn't have to deal with the stress of forcing myself to be heard.

But I've already gone into this subject before, speaking of true friendships being those that go both ways.  You have to respect those whom you wish to be your friends.  Listen - LISTEN - LISTEN DAMMIT!!!  and really hear them, don't just walk away because it's not something you want to hear.  If you walk away from me or change the subject in the middle of a conversation then what's the point of me continuing with you?  It's the same reason I don't like repeating myself, because obviously you weren't interested enough to listen to me, then why should I take the time to talk to you at all?

Sorry...again, it's a point that I've tried to drive home with people.  I'll tell you how it is.  Maybe I'll try to word it in such a way that won't get you mad, but I will tell you.  If you can't stand it, then maybe you shouldn't be my friend!  Certainly I have lost enough friendships over the years when I've said it straight.  I lost one friend after her deadbeat daughter saddled her with the grandson.  I told her that she should make her daughter go out and get a job, that maybe she should talk to her about not running around, to which the reply became, "You're not a grandmother so you don't understand."  I do understand that if you're constantly watching your grandson then your daughter darn well should be working to pay for housing and food for that child, not running around!

Anyway, this afternoon I realized that I'd had enough, and surprisingly "unfriending" someone on Facebook really does get attention.  It's weird because years ago that would not have happened.  When I was growing up, if you didn't like someone you just stopped talking to them.  Same thing here, if you walk away from a conversation I'm having with you on facebook then you'd best not want to talk to me ever again.  I'm not going to put up with the High School drama that I've been getting lately because I'm not in High School anymore!  I'm very nearly 20 years away from that and would NEVER want to go back, thankyouverymuch!

Perhaps if everyone is cordial and willing to listen to me, then I shall reconsider my decision.  Heaven knows I'm actually the forgiving type.  I really am.  I can really just forgive and forget - but I have to have someone ask for forgiveness first, and not in such a way as they say "well, I'm saying this but I don't really mean it."  That's B.S.  If you walked away, then it's your decision to walk, I wasn't the one walking.

Sort of like the lyrics in Train's new album "Bulletproof Picasso" - "The Bridge"

Were at the bridge together once more
We cross it over like we've done before
We could make a fire, go up in smoke
Jump into the water and do the backstroke
Were at the bridge, I love this view
But I don't know if I can cross again with you
We can start a fire, go up in smoke
Jump into the water and do the back stroke
Come on
What's it gonna be
Come on
What's it gonna be

I gotta feelin
You and I on the river
Burn it down to the ground
I need to know if you want me to jump or burn it to the ground
I gotta know now
Are you and I gonna go down
In flames or drown
I need to know if you want me to jump or burn it to the ground

This is what happens when you go to the bridge
You jump into the fire or you learn to swim
This is what happens when you go to the bridge
You jump into the fire or you learn to swim

Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/train-lyrics-the-bridge-52x7x98#ixzz3G95unr5B
LetsSingIt - Your favorite Music Community 

Guess I'll leave this here as it's really how I'm feeling right now.  It's well worth a listen as the song is really catchy.  I've been a huge fan of Train for a lot of years and it's one of my 'howling' bands, that and "Tonic".  I mean by 'howling' as I crank up the music and just belt it out until I feel better about myself again.

I'm sure everyone has their own opinions on friendships like this.  Perhaps being an introverted person it's easy to feel like you don't want to talk.  The truth is, even as an introvert, most want to feel important and being listened to, not having to listen themselves is sometimes really nice.  No one, not even the shyest introvert should have to spend every moment with friends listening.  It's not fair to me, it's not fair to my other introverted friends.  Extroverts do not have the excuse to walk all over us just because they are more willing to speak.  It has nothing to do with that.

There is a fine line to having a friendship.  You can choose the kinds you want and you should never have to decide between your friendships.  Just like you should never have to choose between a loved one and a friend.  True love will never ask you that.  Heck, even from a business perspective (which is what I've been dealing with lately), making me decide who's side to be on isn't an option either.  If both sides contribute positively to an ends, then I shouldn't have to fire anyone.  I should be able to find a balance.  You don't want to talk to this person anymore?  Let me find a solution.  Don't just put your foot down and say, "It's them or me."

Because, you know what?  Maybe it WILL be THEM, and not you.  Consider that first!

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