ginny: yes, friends can …

Yes, friends can … get the extra benefit of a doubt, change their minds, disagree with your decisions, forget what you told them, give unsolicited advice, and be just a mess of a person.  All is forgiven, all is forgotten, and the friendship survives, moves on, and gets stronger.

Why is that?  Why do we let friends get away with things that we wouldn’t allow other people to do?

Partly it has to do with the backstory. Every time something happens, every time someone does something, your mind creates a story about it.  If it is a stranger, you have nothing to go on, so you just free flow a story, maybe based on your mood or their shirt or the weather.  If it is someone you don’t like, the story you create is filtered through a laundry list of previous wrongdoings or slights.  Ah, but if it is a friend, your mind reaches for the backstory, your history together, their personal history which explains or defines their actions.

When friendships are first starting the backstory that is taken into consideration is the other person’s history. When something comes up that may cause me to get mad or walk away from the relationship I think about what that person has shared with me about their childhood, their romantic relationships, the way they feel about themselves, and the way they view in the world in general.  I give leeway based on an understanding of where they are coming from.  As the friendship develops and we create a shared history, things that irritate or anger are shaded by memories of good times or of long talks or of crappy times that we endured together.  I think about times when the other person has been there for me, when they have been understanding of my crap, and they get a pass.

What is about me that wants to say, yes, yes, all of this is true … but …

But if what the other person is doing is no longer being a friend to me, what then? I’ve walked away from one friendship in my life, and I can tell you that when I walked away it was because I felt used and unappreciated. I felt angry that the other person was so concerned with what was going on in her life that she didn’t see or consider me at all.

This woman and I were friends for two, three years, and just about inseparable.  During a time of stress and uncertainty in both of our lives she did something that I couldn’t forgive.  I cut her out of my life and refused to have anything to do with her.  I can’t tell you how many times I have played this over in my mind in the twenty some years since it happened.  It was so unlike anything I had done before or have done since.   I am not the one who walks away.

I can’t say “Yes, friends can …” until I reconcile what happened between me and this woman.  If friends can do things that would be unacceptable from other people, then why didn’t she get a pass?  We certainly had enough of a history together.  She saw me through some rough times, and I was there for her when she needed me.  We drank together and decorated Christmas trees together and sang “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” together.  But were we friends?

Maybe every friendship starts with a couple of scales, one for me and one for the other person.  On one side of my scale is what I get from you, the good stuff.  On the other side is what I accept from you, the things that I wouldn’t take if we weren’t friends.  In the beginning it’s balanced, and in the best of friendships it stays pretty much on an even keel.  This one friendship, not so much so.

When the scale came crashing down I had been feeling not supported by my friend in a major decision I had made in my life.  Friends don’t have to agree with every decision you make, but they have to agree that you are the best person to make that decision.  They have to understand that once the decision is made it is you, and not the decision, that is most important.  I didn’t feel that from her.  And so I used the next convenient exit point to make a break.

Yes, friends can … but sometimes they can’t.

3 thoughts on “ginny: yes, friends can …

  1. Julie I do believe the last sentence says it all. I have been deserted and I, myself, have deserted a number of “friends” from my life. Those who deserted me felt no remorse and probably never felt we were “friends” anyway and after all, they were finished with me. I no longer held any use for them thus no value thus no need to extend friendship. On my part, I weigh every decision (and I mean every decision) in life, writing pros and cons, what ifs and whys until I come to a decision that it is time to let go of something that might not have been there to begin with. At my age I find I am less tolerant of those who use others (namely me) and I more easily find that loophole to rid people who not only value me but who do harm, from my life. Friendship is hard to define but to me loyalty and trust are two components which are a must have and once one of them is breached beyond repair there is no friendship and thus OVER. Do I regret some of my decisions – yes I do, but once something like that is broken I doubt it can be repaired so on with life I go. Some decisions on letting these so called friendships go should have been gone years ago but then I was tolerant and forgiving so I am going to chalk this one up to age and wisdom and say your last sentence just sums it up for me.

    • It’s nice to meet you Judy. Thanks for your comment! I was actually thinking about pro and con lists the other day and wondering if they ever do anybody any good. It seems to me that after you get all of that thinking out of the way it still comes down to “What do you really want?”. To me that is more of a question you answer with your heart or your gut, and not with your head.

      I noticed that you started this with “Julie” and wanted to point out that this one is my doing 🙂 You’re welcome to write to either or both of us on either posts of course!

      • Oh Ginny my bad! Since I know Julie thought she wrote it and YES it is thinking with your heart and your gut and let us leave the head out of it as cerebrally (word?) I don’t think you can rationalize when a “friendship” is over. I think there comes a time when everyone is spent and when you can no longer be the cheerleader and you, as a partner in this so called friendship need a cheerleader yourself (selfish – nope don’t think so) but I have always tried to be fair and honest (to a fault at times) but I have always had my friends backs and when someone turns on you or walks away when you have a problem or a dilemma, well it is time to end that so-called relationship. Remember what was good, make your lists (yes they work very well for me as I am/was a scientist and that is what we do) and at the end of the day you have to satisfied with the end result and be able to move on with or without that person in your life. I have found, to my great dismay, that there is no middle ground. Either you ARE a friend or you are not. So once again your last sentence really struck a cord with me. Again, my apologies and I will enjoy your blog and participate if you will have me! BTW, I absolutely am a dog person, loving just about every type of dog, but cats – It is not that I don’t like them, but I have this great fear of them as I do of birds which comes from a warped childhood but that is a tale for another time.

        Again, didn’t mean to offend, but Julie asked me to read and if you know anything about me and I guess if I post to your blog you will, I am not one to miss an opportunity to comment!

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