“Stop Telling Me What’s Wrong About Me!”

As most of us know, some friendships just don’t last. They may start off well; you meet someone with whom you feel you have a lot in common. You do things together, you start having your own jokes and references; you begin to feel as if you’ve known this person all your life.

You are having so much fun that often you don’t realize that the other person; this great friend, is starting to say things to you that are–well, a bit hurtful. She says you’re fun to be with, but just not quite all the friend you could be to her. She lists all the things she feels that the “perfect friend” should be (implying that you are not being those things). It’s not quite an insult, so you brush it off, thinking you were just taking things the wrong way, that they couldn’t have meant the way that sounded….but a little corner of your heart starts to hurt–a little.

Time goes on. You start to notice that your friend is making comments about you to other people, and you come out of it as the butt of the joke. If you say something about it, she looks at you as if you’re crazy, telling you to stop thinking that everything is about you, and why don’t you learn to take a joke?

So you try to be a better friend. You concentrate on being more complimentary, you always ask what she wants to do instead of suggesting something you’d like to do. You find yourself with a group of people you and your friend like, and during the time together another friend comes up to you and says, “you know, <insert best friend’s name> just said something kind of mean about you. Are you guys mad at each other?”

You feel as if you just got stabbed. How could your dearest friend say that? You’re friends! Later on you confront her and ask what she meant by her comment. She says that you “should know” that you have this or that problem or issue. You ask why she didn’t tell you personally, and she shrugs and says, “I thought you knew.”

Later on when you’re alone, you start thinking, ‘hey, wait a second: why does she get to say these things about me? Why is she not a better friend to me? I’ve been nothing but nice to her!’

Then it hits you right between the eyes: you have nothing to be sorry about. You have done nothing but be a good friend, and you are not responsible to be the kind of person your friend says that you should be. What should matter is that you take each other as you are, not what you think they should be.

This happened to me, and believe it or not, it took me years to realize that there was nothing wrong with me; I really was a good friend. My problem was that I let her get in my head and I began to believe that she was right. She just didn’t like that I didn’t do all the things she felt I should do for her. So we stopped seeing each other, and I went through sort of a grieving period. I had had such a good time in the beginning with her, and was sad that that part of my life was over. Then I had to forgive myself for believing her over believing in myself. These things go both ways, not just one way.

While I’m the first to say that I am far from perfect, I have tried all my life not to knowingly hurt anyone. It took that “friendship” to make me realize that 1) not all friendships last, and 2) not all friendship issues are my fault.

How about that for an “aha!” moment?

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One thought on ““Stop Telling Me What’s Wrong About Me!”

  1. Phyllis Ring says:

    Gracious, Jane, what a powerful reflection to read today. My heart identifies, with its very own kinds of bleeding. And I smile at how gracefully you describe doing what wisdom eventually brings us to, once we recognize that mutuality may never have even been part of the equation – what wild Stuart Wilde advises on page 14 of his Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle: “Remember to vote with your feet.”

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