Chris here taking bruised finger to painfully wide eyed keyboard to write another article on people, relationships and how they can be used to destroy.
I have had my eyes opened for me recently and when that happens, it is generally not fun. It means that they were closed and something was not all right in my universe. It means that I was ignoring something important and at some point it reached out and bit me.
Although these things when they occur give me massive volumes of blog fodder, they are painful. But they are only painful because I should have known and I closed my eyes willingly and walked smack into it.
This little essay, unfortunately, is on the subject of friends.
There is some idea floating around in the ether that in order to be a “True Friend” to someone you have to put up with their shit.
We see memes all the time run across our inboxes shouting out loud the requirements someone needs to have to be a “True Friend”. Many of these ideas are frankly, toxic.
Many of them are a demand that you allow yourself to be abused over and over, and when you object, you are not a True Friend.
There comes a point where someone’s shit is just that, their shit. And they should not be throwing it all over you.
At one point in my life, I had been struggling like mad for years to get my head above water. I had been living hand to mouth working as a waitress and it was rough. I never had enough money. I felt upset that I had not gotten anywhere in life.
Finally I found a unique job position and I started working really hard and getting promoted. Within a year I was no longer living hand to mouth and had some left over money at the end of the month. My troubles were over as far as personal survival was concerned. I could relax.
And then I started dating an alcoholic. I didn’t know he was an alcoholic at the time but I quickly saw that staying in this relationship would pull me back into the mud that I had just climbed out of with so much difficulty. I tried over and over to help this guy. He would not be helped and the more I tried the more abusive he became. Finally, after he drained my bank account to buy drugs, I left.
Before I left we had a conversation. Of course he was making me wrong for leaving him even though staying would have been tantamount to allowing him to destroy me while he also destroyed himself.
So I asked him what he would do if someone he loved put a gun to their head every single night and every night threatened to blow their own brains out.
What would he do?
He said he would go in every night and take the gun from their hand no matter how many times it took. He said he would hold them until they felt better no matter how long it took.
Now this is what some people want to hear. This is the basis for teen drama films and this is what some people want in a True Friend.
But I told him that this is where he and I were different. After living that Hell for a period and trying like Hell to help that person, if the person refused to handle their situation, there is a point where it becomes a matter of my own survival and the survival of those who depend on me. Once that point is reached I would turn and walk away knowing that they may ultimately carry through.
But no matter how obvious it is that someone should do something, no matter how painful it is to watch them suffer, no matter how desperately you want them to survive, the bitter cold truth is that you cannot put your feet in their shoes with them and make them walk.
If you do, you live that Hell with them and frankly, it is a Hell that should not be shared if that person is not willing to put every ounce of his strength and persistence into handling it. I will share someone’s Hell but not forever.
If you continue to play the game of being the one to save them or handle their blow ups and constant upsets, they come to expect to be saved and they feel free to abuse you. Suddenly they no longer have to take responsibility for their own situation because you are right there doing it. Your life suddenly belongs to them.
If you leave, that person has to make a choice. They either have to end it all, or they have to face up and decide to fix what is wrong.
And no matter how late in the game things got, I would have always been willing to come back and help this person as long as he was trying to help himself.
Now, let me tell you how life is. Life is hard. It has sharp edges and can be bitterly heartless. Life can steal the ones you love and leave you in losses so deep you think you will never recover. Life is a string of experiences one after the other. And life requires skill to handle and extreme toughness to survive.
You are not doing someone a favor by taking their shit. You are not doing them a favor by failing to insist that they stand on their own two feet.
You are not doing them a favor if you allow them to abuse and manipulate you because this is how they then learn to survive rather than developing real survival skills that will see them through life.
The games of manipulation and abuse are games of Solitaire as far as I am concerned. Once that occurs, I fold.
I know it is brutal and heartless but it is no less brutal and heartless than making someone who loves you become an audience to your slow death.
And it is no less cruel or heartless than walking around like a giant incendiary powder keg waiting for someone to look at you wrong to be set off and then bitterly abusing them for the mortal sin of not having walked ever so carefully over those damned eggshells that you have laid out to trap them.
Life is a constant vigil, a constant pruning of people around one in order to protect one’s environment more securely and to survive better.
When you survive better, others around you do too.
The people you need around are are the ones who think like you do, who do not expect you to save their lives over and over and who would never think of uncorking massive explosions on you or those around you.
They are the people who handle their shit.
You do, don’t you? Why shouldn’t everyone?
Chew on that for a bit then let me know what you think.