In reply to the WordPress Daily Prompt Jan.8, 2015
I Got Skills
If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?
1. equally expert with each hand2. highly skilled or adept3. underhanded; deceitful
If I could become the master of anything, I would be thrilled to become the Master of Friendships. Heck, I would be thrilled to even have the desire for a friend, let alone the emotional energy it requires to maintain one with any kind of meaning. You know how some people are so desperate to make you their friend that they greet you with the obnoxious energy of an overgrown puppy ? So eager to get your attention that they almost knock you over? Yeah, that’s not me.
In trying to decide on a title for this post, I landed on the word “ambidextrous” – not for its common first meaning of being equally expert with each hand, but for the 2nd and 3rd meanings of being highly skilled or adept…underhanded; deceitful. I decided this word has the perfect combined description of the skills I both lack and have no desire to hone, in order to attain the status of Friendship Expert.
People exhaust me. In particular, people who happen to be catty, jealous, competitive, back-biting, pretentious females. Given my disdain for these characteristics, there are slim pickings for friendships in this bottom-of-the-barrel small town I live in. Being that I’m not really interested in friendships-for-numbers, just so I can have a tally of essential strangers on my FaceBook wall, I remain basically friendless.
To be clear, I have had the pleasure of being friends with a number of precious people who became closer than family to me. Friends with the security needed to not be clingy, exclusive, or competitive. Friends who looked for the best in me, and allowed me to blossom to my fullest potential. Friends who shared in the birth of my babies. And one friend in particular who I helped to support through many devastating events beyond her control – the worst being the death of her 29-year-old husband, whose eyes I once looked at in our mutual astonishment of witnessing the birth of his very first child. I know how to be a friend – a very good friend – one who is forever loyal through thick-and-thin.
Being that I know how to be a friend, I also know the amount of work that goes into it. And being that I know what it’s like to have a group of people accept me with open arms and open hearts, I find it excruciatingly painful when I look around and don’t see any of them anymore. Since moving 14 hours away from my clan of kindred spirits, I haven’t found a single person worthy of the higher standard that they have now set. I also find it painful to admit that I no longer have what it takes to be the friend I once was, nor do I have the desire to allow somebody else to be there for me, when I don’t have the energy to reciprocate.
I have put up a protective hedge about myself, and shut off all expectations of finding even one replacement for the numerous friends I left behind. The stubborn and somewhat snobbish side of me will convince you that I’m perfectly fine with my self-sabotaging predicament. But the truth is, I do miss the girltalk and laid-back good times of feeling comfortable in my own skin, around people who were equally comfortable in theirs. I miss sitting back with my girls as we laughed at perverted jokes with our husbands. I miss the feeling of oneness I felt, as no one was excluded from the open-invitation friendship-party that I was once welcomed into. Because of their acceptance, I accepted myself, and I realized that the world was a much bigger place than I once saw it being.
Now I am left to pick through the cold leftovers. Allow me to describe them for you – some of them in generalizations , some of them specific to one person. (To those of you coming from my former blog, you may recognize some of the following from a previous post that I have now edited and renamed):
1. The “I’ll fix you” friend. This is the girl who decides to make you her latest project, in her failed attempts to better those she deems in need of her services. She’s the full-grown woman, with the little-girl voice, so confident that she will be your bestest-friend-ever that she practically forces herself on you. With her, there is no option to say “No thank you, please move along”, as this would hurt her little-girl feelings. To say no to her offer of friendship that she is so graciously extending would be considered a cardinal sin in the law of girl-rules that she follows to the letter. With her perfect sense of bad-timing, she traps you right when your social anxiety is obviously forcing you to flee from the bustling crowd, and she keeps you there in suspended misery – with the protection of her onlooking witnesses. As she tries to engage you in the conversation you’re forced to be interested in, she predictably enunciates her dull and boring drivel tailor-made just for you – the troubled one. Since her innocent little eyes are too pure to behold such ugly things as the reality you suffer through, she simply pretends it’s not there. And then, sure enough, comes the invitation you’ve been dreading – the invitation you already know you’ll be forced to say yes to (remember the girl-rules), but an invitation that you’ll unfortunately be too sick to attend. This is the girl who believes that her mere presence is enough to magically cure your afflictions that she never openly acknowledges. This is the girl who the quiet onlookers are cheering for – the onlookers who will heap their applause and adulation upon her when you are gone, as they so admire her bravery for approaching the leper of society.
2. The clingy,needy,desperate friend. This is the girl who doesn’t seem to have any friends at all, with the exception of the unfortunate recent move-in, whom she immediately pounces on, calls shotgun, and claims ownership of. Her possession of you begins with her constant, daily phone calls – instantly revealing her deepest, darkest secrets (which are pathetically not all that deep or dark). Then comes the daily invitations to her home, with the expectations of the hours you are to sit there and listen to her endless list of personal problems, and the problems of others (as she secretly hopes you will add your own juicy tidbits to her vast collection of gossipy “facts”). In your attempts to remove the claws she has deeply imbedded into you, you eventually stop answering her daily phone calls and texts, but she overcomes this threat by feigning ignorance at the common knowledge of subtle hints. Not going down without a fight, she manipulatively uses your children against you, as she asks them (right in front of you) if they want to come over – looking right into your eyes with the sure look of desperate victory. And after the clean break that she forces you to administer, you will be added to her plethora of pain and problems, which she will eagerly share with her next unsuspecting victim.
3. The Jesus friend. Being friends with this girl feels like being friends with Jesus Christ himself. The girl so puritanically good and righteous, so saintlike in her kindness, yet so unbearably dull and boring in her lack of realness. This is the girl who would be irreparably crushed if you didn’t at least keep up the appearance of being her friend (which is easy, since it contains no depth). She believes that common euphemisms are as sinful as swearing, and she would never dare use undignified words (such as “fart”), since she has never actually experienced such a human indiscretion. This is the girl who would be gravely disappointed in you if you voiced your hatred of an inanimate object – most likely coming to tears over the fact that you could have hurt its feelings. Because of her sensitivity to all things real, you must exhaustively monitor your every word and emotion, so as not to offend her perfect sense of the world. Although you find her lovely world in no way relatable to your own, she desperately tries to search for remote commonalities. And in her mind – which is only filled with goodness – you reside with her happy thoughts, in her happy world, where all is rosy.
4. The backstabbing,creepy,childhood “best” friend. This friend is the worst-of-the-worst, due to her mind-game-playing abilities. This is the girl who, to your face (and especially in front of an audience), will go out-of-her-way to shower you with her insincere compliments, and wishes for your once-upon-a-time camaraderie. This girl loves to hear herself speak with her infinite wisdom, encouraged by a family who worships her as their big-fish-in-small-waters almost-success (a family who at one time convinced you that you were the cause of all of her issues). This is the girl who turns her FaceBook wall into her very own unprofessional modeling portfolio – displaying a new demonstration of her narcissism every 15 minutes (along with her Oprah-esque quotes of girl-power and self-love). This is the beautiful girl who “humbly” married an ugly man, just to squeeze out every last drop of attention in their unfair comparison. Although she desperately tries to give the appearance of having a perfect marriage, she has no problem dropping her ugly-yet-doting husband if it means she can flirt with your younger brother, or any other horny hillbilly who gives her their attention. This is the girl so intent on spreading her popularity, she has no problem selling it to the highest bidder – paid only with the compliments and praise of her perfectness. In her attempt to monopolize her fragile world of beauty and undivided attention, she discredits any talent you may own that would threaten her self-made limelight. She is so jealous of the life that you live, she secretly sleeps with your whore-of-a-brother-in-law, in her spiteful and desperate desire to be you for a day. She’s the deceitful, manipulative, enemy-in-friend’s-clothing. She is the girl more preoccupied with reclaiming the attention she feels you have stolen, than to ever acknowledge that it was never hers to begin with. And when you look back at the dysfunctional relationship your childhood-self assumed was so real, you finally see that you had been duped into believing that you were the crazy one, in a friendship that never existed.
5. The hidden-in-the-background friend. This is the girl whose shyness may initially hide her from your view. The girl who, unlike all of the others listed, knows what true friendship means, and doesn’t waste her energy on anything less. She is the girl who, at a different time and place in your life, would be one of the few people to live up to your high expectations – and you to hers. This is the girl who now looks at you and can see you as the hypocritical, needy, disturbed person that you are. The girl who knows her limits and knows you would be too much for her to handle – as she sees a little piece of you in each one of the above descriptions. You are those girls to her, and she is smart enough to keep her distance. She is wise in her decision, since you know that being your friend would entail her being there for your never-ending series of personal crises, while not bothering your fragile equilibrium with her lone set of troubles.
Although I recently discovered that this last person was only a friendship-mirage (a story which I will be relating in a separate post), this is my list of ambidextrous friends, whose talents I no longer admire. Although I would love to get out of my head and be content with a simple friendship of ease and convenience, I seem to have lost the skills required to attain a fake-it-till-I-make-it relationship.