Friendship, Deconstructed or The Final Nail In The Coffin
At the end of November, 2014, a couple that we thought we had a significant friendship told us, after I’d asked them about their recent lack of communication with us, how they really felt. The husband, (hereinafter referred to as “A”) said rather condescendingly: “We want the best for you” and “I can’t be around sad people because of my job” [Translation: we want the best for you, but please fuck off]. The wife (hereinafter referred to as “B”) said to me: “You’re like my sister—fragile, lack self-confidence, and need therapy. I have more in common with (your husband) because he’s a professional.”
“I hope this was helpful” “A” said as they went out the door. Helpful? Hmm, not so much. Illuminating, yes. Painful? ABSOLUTELY.
I was devastated. Analysis, and grieving, ensued.
Two days later, at church, “A” acted like nothing had happened and, a week later, they sat with us at a church lunch. [Are you fucking kidding me?????] I could hardly look at them, much less talk to them.
In December I tried to “win them back” and “fit in” by hustling for worthiness as Brene Brown puts it. This “hustling” consisted of gratitude Facebook posts. You know, something like: “Today’s gratitude: the sky is blue.” Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped.*
For months, I would even dream about these friends. A professional said it was both an attempt by my unconscious to make sense of what happened and a form of grieving.
Please understand: We had done numerous things with this couple: gone to each other’s homes, we’d spent weekends with them, been part of the same church group, we’d looked after their dog whilst they were away, etc. There was literally no area of our life where their fingerprints weren’t on it. Now, it even hurts to look at our kitchen backsplash as I painfully remember how “A” helped my husband tile it, and I wonder if painful memories such as those are enough to justify moving.
Gradually, a review showed how little of a friendship it actually was except perhaps in my own mind. Eventually self-esteem returned: why would I want to be friends with people who thought so little of me?
Early in 2015, this couple requested a meeting. Thinking okay, God wants reconciliation here, we agreed. After initial chit-chat, “A” stated he’d noticed how unresponsive I’d been and how much pain I was in. They asked how I was doing. I decided to be as blunt with them as “B” had been with me. Among other things, I told them I rejected “B’s” characterization of me and if they knew me better, and all I’d gone through, they’d think differently too. I went on to say I’m friends with people from all walks of life. I also stated I’m not a person to be fixed with books and pamphlets [they like to lend people books and pamphlets when said people share their heart about a struggle they are dealing with] but a friend to be loved. (I stopped just short of saying I’m not a project to be managed—one of them is in management).
Virtually all communication between us ceased after that, with the exception of occasional encounters at church. It seems apparent God didn’t want reconciliation after all, and that meeting was just an opportunity for me to share what I’d been feeling since that awful day in November.
The latest brief encounter a few days ago made me very sad for what used to be.
The demise of this friendship played a definite role in our decision to leave the church. Awkward encounters for the rest of our life? I don’t think so.
*Hustling for worthiness means, according to Ms. Brown,
When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside of our story. ~From her book The Gifts of Imperfection
The wise Brene Brown on fitting in vs. belonging:
Fitting in is about becoming who you need to be to gain acceptance. Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.