Friends Gone Bad

I am officially down to my last dysfunctional relationship.

After years of slowly weaning myself from the needy, the dependent, the lonely and the walking disasters, I think I might be through. I have one friendship of twenty years that has been limping along in a very unsatisfying way for about four years now. I kept waiting for my friend to get back to herself, back to who she was for all those other years. Thats not to say she was ever an easy person to be around. She was always demanding and self-involved, but despite the effort, she could be a lot of fun. Her life dial was always set on “high drama”, but her fun capacity could be just as high. Now, unfortunately, it’s all drama all the time.

Her dissatisfaction with her life means that everything that happens becomes a problem and every problem becomes a war. And I don’t get combat pay for listening. The more unhappy she becomes the more self-involved she is, which then drives people away, because really what fun is that? I have stood by her as she ruptured one relationship after another – friends, family, lovers, colleagues. There is always someone else to blame and she is only standing up for herself.

She may have learned nothing about herself from this endless repetition, but I am learning something. Her blindness makes me examine those failed relationships that I still clutch in righteous anger. Slowly, slowly I am peeling back the layers to try and own the part I played in those failures. I know intellectually that the world operates in shades of gray, even though my emotions are used to a purely black and white system. I make small progress, and often backslide, but I think this is why I am ready to walk away from this last unhealthy relationship. I no longer want the burden of absolute certainty about what is right, how something should be done or acceptable behavior. I am tired of that lens and want to trade it in for something more elastic and fluid.

I don’t think my friend can change. I don’t think she believes she needs to. She has become a bundle of unshakable convictions, righteous anger and offended sensibilities. Even her current anger at me is my fault. I did not give her my undivided attention when she wanted to tell me what to do with my life. The nerve.

I think we will end up going our separate ways. The question is whether or not she will feel compelled to take a stance, have a fight and cause a rupture so she can put me in the box with all the other people who have treated her badly over the years. Remains to be seen and, if it happens, it will not be initiated by me. I don’t need that “closure” I can change without burning up everything around me.