Saturday, August 9, 2008

And It All Comes Tumbling Down

Friendships are strange.  They can be super good, and then suddenly, one little thing can send everything spiraling down hill.

I guess there's lots of reasons friendships end: moving away, huge blowups, siding with other friends, just losing touch, growing apart... just to name a few of the ways I've lost some friends.  But the really, really sucky way to lose a friend is over something stupid.  You know, those little things that, in retrospective or to a third person, seem super trivial and silly.  But somehow, to you and your (former?) friend, are the most important things in the world.

I usually like to consider myself a good friend.  I think I go the extra mile to be there for my friends, make efforts to see them, to support them, to stay in touch.   But I've been fooling myself.  I'm not a good friend;  I'm not even sure I'm an ok friend.   Sometimes, I feel like I'm putting forth more efffriends foreverort than others, sometimes I know I'm not.  Not responding to a friend's email for weeks just because I don't feel like dealing with a rocky patch in our friendship is not being a good friend.  Not recognizing a friend's buttons is also not being a good friend.

I don't mean buttons like on your clothes or that say "Vote for Gracie."  I mean the buttons we all have; the little things that can really irk us and push us over the edge.  Like for me, messing with Daddy Bunny.  To you, he may be just a stuffed pile of scraps, but to me, he's a lot more.  Messing with him just isn't tolerated.

Everyone has these sorts of buttons.  If I was a good friend, I would recognize them and not push them.  But alas, I am not what I hoped to be.  And how do you - well, I, fix this?  These buttons usually get pushed inadvertently, or as part of an escalating scenario:

You do something I don't like.  I ask you to stop.  You don't, so I do something you don't like.  You get mad.  I think it's ridiculous for you to be mad when you did something I didn't like.  You think it's ridiculous for me to be mad when I did something you didn't like.  And now we're at a standoff.  You're mad, and I can't even say what I am.  Angry? No.  Hurt?  A bit.  Bewildered and frustrated?

Unfortunately, when I'm frustrated, I cry.  Frustrated at physically not being able to do something, tears.  Frustrated at something not working, tears.  Frustrated at you, at me, at the world, tears.  And to some of my friends, that just makes everything ten times worse.

But what do you do when buttons have been pushed, and what was a little thing is now a great big messy ending?  It sucks.  I'd like to keep the few friends I have, especially the ones to whom I am really close.  ...Excuse me, I have an email to respond to, and some sleep to get.

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