The Fear

October 18, 2009 at 1:53 am (Mental illness)

Yesterday I had an epiphany.

Everyone has certain friends they don’t like – people you quietly wish would leave your friendship group, but you know they never will.

Pause for a related tale:

When I was fifteen or sixteen, I had a crush on a boy. (Mostly because he’d fallen for me, and was incredibly good-looking AND incredibly romantic, AND one of my best friends). Since I was already deeply in love with someone else, I made the decision not to go out with him – but I was very tempted. I’ll call the TDH (tall dark and handsome) crush Fred.

Some months passed, and by chance I discovered that Fred was making up stories about mutual friends of ours. I was lucky enough to stumble across information that made his dishonesty absolutely clear.

I’ve never been a fan of people who make up lies (my biological father, apparently, used to do exactly the same thing – making up unneccessary lies that were sometimes less attractive than the truth). I quickly realised that he was probably making up stories about me, too – some of them based on true secrets I’d told him.

Trust is vital in friendship, but I realised I still enjoyed his company. All I had to do to remain friends was never tell him any secrets, and to accept that a lot of what he said was completely made up. It was like a friendship with one piece taken out – and it worked surprisingy well.

And back to the present:

Since I became a basket case, friendships have been a lot harder to maintain. There are two I’ve deliberately chosen to draw back from – one because her own anxiety brings me down the instant I so much as think of her, and one because I know one day she’ll get annoyed and write about my many flaws (specifically and by my real name) on facebook.

Three other friends have hurt me badly in various ways – but they’re very close friends, and deeply embedded in friendship groups I can’t leave. So for about a year now I’ve been struggling to know what to do – how to reconcile their cruelty with our unbreakable friendships.

Their cruelty didn’t bother me so much – my weakness does sometimes bring out a bad side in others – but I was very ashamed of my own inability to just let it go.

Finally I realised that I wasn’t angry with them – I’d forgiven them long ago – I was simply afraid, knowing I couldn’t trust them.

So all I have is another few friendships with a piece missing. I can handle that!

I’ll probably always be afraid of them, but so what? Sometimes getting in or out of my car is so conceptually difficult I have a panic attack.

I’m not a bad person for still having negative feelings about bad people. And now I can live with my conscience, I can endure them, too.

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2 Comments

  1. Ann said,

    Friends are always difficult…… I have a pretty low threshold for dishonesty and selfishness (ie users) in friendships. It does surprise me though that those who engage in that behaviour often never notice that I have taken a step back and no longer share my secrets, or time with them. But like you, I struggle to let go of the hurt. When you find out that your trust has been broken, it can be a very long healing process.

    To those that know me, dont swear at me, lie to or about me, or take advantage of my generousity and we’ll be fine. But if you do, dont expect me to help you out unless you are literally up the creek without a paddle… (Hmmmm, sounds a bit like I could use some of your forgiving nature Fel…..)

    • felicitybloomfield said,

      One of the things I like about you is your incredibly positive interpretation of my motives. Thanks.

      Felicity

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