A faraway friend asked me for my “wise counsel” so as to help her deal with her disappointment in her three closest friends (where she lives)…or to point out if it is her, rather than them, that needs fixing. “Wise” is the incorrect word, “opinionate” much better (not just because i’m “full of it” but also because it can’t be entirely free of subjectivity – after all, last year i gave up my entire life in a major city to move, owning practically nothing, to this village of Knysna, 1300km away – i reset to zero).
Can subjective opinion result in objective outcome? Or is that objective opinion result in subjective result?
“Friends are like bras…they give lots of support.”
I don’t believe that people truly care but my negativity doesn’t have to be yours.
There’s no way i can get this advice 100% without being there and knowing the larger picture but i can make points and opinions to ponder because there aren’t many possibilities i.e. human relationships are rarely complex and the combination of emotional outcomes few.
Firstly, accept that we’re animals. We are biology. Human interaction is no different, a social dynamic to assist our existence. Friendships are “selfish”, not a negative description but rather a neutral word that can go either way. They are about getting something from someone and they getting something in return. The more even the trade, the better we think the friendship is. But us creative types have to add a spin on that cause we hope for what could be instead of doing what the majority knows is (they may not say it, but they practice reality…and reality is more brutal than hope). From that hope, we’re prepared to give more than we take but that’s a steamroller sometimes because when we’re let down it hurts way more than it would a regular person…and we connect that fucking dot to a myriad of other dots involving not only the history with that problematic person but even our overall interaction with life…and death.
Because of the life i’ve lead, i’ve been in extreme situations whose result is that i’ve learnt more about the people around me and how little they truly care…i don’t mean a handout but more of a similar example you gave about effort e.g. if i have no car and walk to see them 50 times, sometimes getting wettened by winter rain (many whilst i had a chest infection for 9 months in Knysna), and they are usually late although they have a car and live only 5 minutes away, then they are shits! I live 1km from town centre. Admittedly, it’s a big, bloody hill but does that account for the fact that not one person in 10 months has ever walked up it, a gesture of effort and care, to say hi to me. Instead, for example, after i’ve walked to meet them so many times, on the day they have off and their car is in the garage, they will say they can’t because their car is broken [15 minutes effort way too much for them out of a whole day they have free]. Your quid pro example is being a two-jobbing, single mom of two. Any time you make for someone is likely to be a concerted effort. And your choices are limited, a decision, maybe, between reading a book or having lunch with them whereas they are unencumbered and have so many more choices that they’re likely to let you down because choice dilutes the spirit and panders to the vanity of selfishness.
But you have choice too:
“The best of friendships are the ones where two friends can sit
on a swing, not saying a word, but walk away
feeling like they just had the best conversation ever.”
Firstly, you can accept that very few people will appreciate your worth and effort. They will define their relationship with you by ensuring that they get more out of you than you out of them. Balance is as elusive as a unicorn in a Nazi concentration camp. You acknowledge this, accepting human nature, guarding your heart more but keeping the relationship because you understand that getting something from them has more value than being the only cloud in an enormous sky. You don’t have to make the big efforts, you can act more like them. Protect your vulnerability by not sharing your intense emotions and sanctum’s secrets. Don’t expect a weekly visit but rather plan a montly event, maybe getting everyone you know together for a braai and learning more about their true natures as they interact (or not) with each other. Not about being clinical because, on that example day, you are out to have fun, enjoying them in that moment rather than looking towards a lofty ideal. And if they, by their own choice, decide to visit more than that, see it as a bonus and embrace them so long as their reasoning isn’t abuse (in their depressing moments, people are likely to reach out for comfort…but if they don’t reach out to you when yours is apparent, they are only emotional vacuums). Accept that they are not friends but acquaintances…and acquaintances can benefit your life as you can benefit theirs. It can still be relationship with value (but with understanding too).
“You’ll always be my best friend, you know too much!”
Secondly, be patient and thoughtful so that you know which long-term relationships to keep whilst abandoning current ones to instead wait for meaningful ones to come along. Contemplation and observation (especially of self) might bring the realization that there’s a difference between people you know from when you were a teen or in your twenties (and still know) versus those in your more recent thirties (even if it’s been for years). That’s sociology for you…and sociology can be a bummer. It gives us feelings towards someone even though, if we’d met them today we’d not have known them tomorrow e.g. a school mate of yours works as a car salesman and enjoys time off watching rugby and on a big day out may go to watch a pro-wrestling match. You, however, are a software developer who appreciates reading Murakami when alone and, when not, getting best mates together for a cup at an Italian coffee shop which was preceded by watching Hotel Rwanda at Cinema Nouveau. You have nothing in common except that you went to school together and have lived within a 100km of one another for half your life. But when you get together, you both enjoy the beers, shoot some pool, and relate the deepest parts of your life without any hesitation. You can do that because although there’s a psychological bond installed by your developmental years, there’s also no real commitment…and the product of the length of the relationship is that it thinks you will know one another forever thus creating a favourable status quo. Sure, there are exceptions for exceptional relations…but those valuables are oddities in a mass of invaluables. As for the current relationships, if you don’t get enough out of them (only you can decide that), then withdraw. Occupy yourself with more meaningful pursuits but not all alone as you’re hoping to discover better interactions that may grow closer to your hopeful definitions. Try new things, meet new people. But beware, our fast-food culture is birthed by fast-food people i.e. it wouldn’t surprise me if making friendships is harder today than at point in human history.
“I just killed my best friend…and my worst enemy.”
Thirdly, choose a relationship with yourself. It means enjoying your personal endeavours and interests more. It means appreciating the little things when they happen (the sound of the surf beating rocks, a delicious omelette, a movie that made you cry). It allows interaction (make wonderful escape) e.g. choose a small, friendly coffee shop or restaurant, make it your place, know the staff’s names and natures (treat them with respect as they can be a part of your life even if not in it), become a regular and you’ll know them too…a “friendly” life that’s a wonderful-away-from-home and never enters your home so less chance of being problematic as a result of your denial of human nature in lieu of expectations…and, who knows, you may meet someone wonderful when you least expect it, someone who has something in common with you because they are doing the same thing even if they don’t realize it, a natural compulsion rather than an act of self-awareness.
There’s that saying “we are all alone in the end”. It’s deceptive because it suggests hedonistic acts free of responsibility “before the end”. Us creative types realize that love can replace that negativity, our natures more prone to loving and, unfortunately, the destructive converse. Love is the most beautiful achievement but our very nature that believes that, and needs that, is ironically disposed towards failing at it because we’re unlikely to meet someone who not only believes that but has sufficient commonalities too. Maybe as important to our emotional state is not our futuristic, over-reaching beliefs in people (who will only fail them) but that we aren’t “alone in the end” but rather “feel alone right now”.
Here, i was suppose to be giving advice to a faraway friend. Reading what i’ve just written, it’s more bleak than i intended so don’t forget to be practical and decide the worth of each relationship by what you’ve gotten rather than what you haven’t. If you believe you can live without them and put your time to more productive pursuit, then walk away (you’ll get over it). But, if despite the traumas, you can’t imagine not enjoying a good gossiping moment or a dinner with wine again, then keep them, but retracting yourself a foot so that your life isn’t planned around them but rather opening the door when convenient and needed by you too.
Define your friendships by two-way honesty, empathy, trust and understanding. Get clarity or step back if you can’t, letting them come to you rather than you planning your life around them.
PS: fuckinghelllongemail – will have to make the most of it, delete names, and put into a blog so that next time someone asks me i can just give them the url:) Hey, really! 🙂