Thursday, August 14, 2008

If It Walks Likes a Bear, Talks Like a Bear & Takes Honey Like a Bear…

I just had an awful, terrible, sudden realization.

A little background: When I was in college I had a friend that I was completely enamored with. No, not in that way. She was just a very funny, interesting, smart and I thought she was the greatest thing in the world. The feelings seemed to be mutual. We spent a lot of time together because we had some of the same classes and we were in the same program. It was an easy-going kind of relationship, but we both had other friends and circles and I was dating someone, so it wasn’t like we saw each other very minute of the day.

It took me a very long time to realize just how one-sided our relationship was. In the moment, it was all great. We would go to a concert and have an awesome time. We would meet for dinner at the dorm. We would hang out in the library working on papers.
Despite all of the time we spent together and all of the fun things we would do together, it was always me making the effort and me making the plans and me keep the friendship floating. I realize that now, ten years later. In those moments, I didn’t see it that way.

We graduated from college and kept in loose touch. Or should I say I kept in loose touch. This was before email was ubiquitous, so we had phones with answering machines and letters to keep the friendship fires alive. It took effort, which I was willing to put in but she was not.

There were so many clues: I would be going to a bar near her apartment and call her to see if she wanted to join me and my friends and she would answer the phone, but refuse, even when the bar was literally on the first floor of her building. She always had some excuse at the ready: “Dude, I am so hung-over and I can’t get out of bed” or “Dude, I totally would but my cousin is on her way over and I have to wait here for her”. I bought all of the excuses, and kept trying. It just didn’t occur to me that this was a brush-off. Besides, I am tenacious and not one to walk away from any relationship, something I used to pride myself on but something that I now realize is very, very unhealthy.

I think I finally got it a couple of years after we graduated. I was on a road trip and passing through her town. I vacillated over whether or not to call her. And then decided, rather suddenly, to just do it. This was in the beginning of the cell phone era, so I called her from my car about an hour away from her way upstate New York home. I told her I was in the car and passing through her town and wanted to meet up with her. I could hear the panic in her voice. The stream of lies started, something about how she was leaving on a vacation with her parents right away. She even threw in a couple of aside to her parents, who were supposedly urging her to get off the hone and get in the car. That was the last time I spoke to her.

The whole experience, stretched over about five or six years, just confused me. She acted like she liked me, but the way the relationship fizzled out made me wonder. She put in enough effort to make me feel safe, I guess, but not enough, in the end, by a long shot. Now, looking back, I can see how I worked hard to keep our friendship going. And I and see how it was so easy for her to let go when we graduated.

History repeats itself. That is my awful, terrible, sudden realization. Am in the same relationship right now. It isn’t exactly a shock to me: I have know for long time that this is a one-sided friendship, and I have talked endlessly with Nicole about it, and how it is so unhealthy for me to continue to put effort into this friendship when only a modicum of effort is returned. But I don’t give up easily. Have I made that clear?

I can say that in all truth I give up, and it took me a while to get to this point. But it hit me like a freight train: I am repeating patterns that are unhealthy. Who, me? Perpetuating negative behaviors? Ha! What else is new? And I realize that this person is using me, and that makes me a little sick to my stomach. But I also realize and have to admit that I have allowed it to happen. I can’t leave a barrel of honey on my porch and be surprised when a bear shows up (unless that it just a cartoon myth, that bears like honey). Nicole would see me dragging that honey out, and she would admonish me for it and tell me how wrong it was. She even said once that she was dispaoited in me. But deep down, I sort of hoped the bear would see the honey, leave it and just knock on my door and want to hang out with me, not because of the honey, but because of me. Yes, I am continuing this bad bear metaphor. It might have been a test, but I hoped my friend would pass it. In closing: Bear doesn’t want me. Bear wants my honey. And no, honey is not a metaphor for what honey sometimes is a metaphor for. And I have no time for honey-grubbing bears.

The best part is, ignore my honey and I will give you truckloads of it, just because you are my friend.

This is such a poorly written and meandering kind of post, but I think it gets my point across. My bear friend doesn’t read this blog so I could be specific, but I guess I just don’t want to go there.

OK this has taken enough of my energy.

I saw Nellie Olsen (Allison Arngram) of LHOTP fame perform stand up last night and it was great! If you have to ask what LHOTP stands for then you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it. But there was lots of inside references and jokes. And talks of a musical heading to Broadway! That is one musical that I would pay to see.

Pictured above, Madeline and Avery stretch their chubby, chunky delicious legs in my friend Corrie’s luscious backyard. You can’t tell from the pictures, but her husband is a bit of a horticulturist so the property is practically Eden. The girls were so excited they didn’t know which way to turn!


bleu said...

I have always been the one to "keep in touch" or put way more into many friendships than others. I have also been used. In the past two years I have let go of some friends and made decisions on a couple others. There are some I will always stay in touch with, but not put much more into it. Those are friends I consider family though. I also decided not to put energy into new friendships that were not reciprocal from the start. This is hard for me but it is proving much healthier for me as well.

I have also had a few fantastic friendships come from paying attention to who made an effort and that really helped me to follow through with it.

I wish you much love and peace through this time though, it is hard.

K J and the kids said...

Nellie does stand up ???? Seriously. I still watch LHOTP. It comes on the Lifetime channel and while on bed rest it took me back.
Bears really do like honey.
I'm glad you give your honey away :)

I think we all have friendships that are one sided. I also think that having kids and not having the energy and time to put in to them, makes us realize how one sided they really they seem to disappear as fast as the white oreos at my house.
Who knows, maybe she will miss her free honey and come back to you.

Malea said...

First the woman who played Nellie Olson was on Larry Flick on Sirius OUTQ this morning. Interesting interview and I was shocked she still has an audience.

Boy you mommies are up late tonight. Us single folks have an excuse.We're pathetic!

Friendships, freindships!! I was just like you. I worked at all my mine.It was my duty. I was doing unto others as I would have them do unto me.Ha! I would say I was the grounds keeper jokingly complained about people about feeling used. I made all the phone calls to keep in touch and to keep them in touch with each other.My phone barely rang.I sent ecards for every birthday,holiday or anniversary. My inbox might get one on my birthday and I knew exactly who it was from.

I treated them to dinner or lunch or anything I thought would bribe them into spending time with me[didn't know that's what it was at the time]. I was always available to run their errands they were too tied up to run or reschedule what I had to do to accomodate them needing a favor. They always needed a favor[guilt trip].

Sooner or later ,in my case later ,you go through a rough patch and you need their help and you find that they're not there. They don't have time, don't have the patience to just listen to you for once.That's when you find out that you weren't friends ......just "aquaintances".Shallow imitations of what a friendship is suppose to be,so you no longer juggle to keep it all up,alive and moving.The clown working so hard to entertain so the mediocrity of their life goes unnoticed.

So you let them go,because as I see it if it doesn't survive naturally you just weren't meant to be. On our journey through life people will cross our paths for any number of reasons.Who are we to determine how long that season should be? Life long friends is a novel idea,but it takes 2 special people to pull that one off.It's best to take what you get in the moment and save yourself the disappointment of expecting more.

I often wonder why *I* felt like I had to be the grounds keeper of relatioships,while others just dont give a damn. I'll have to ask my therapist that one:)

You guys with wives and kids are so blessed.They're there because they want to be not because they need you to do them a favor.All others that become part of your extended family are just lagniappe.

Lynnbug said...

My father told me one time that if you could count your true friends on one hand you were a lucky person. The operative word there is true friend.

I feel your pain. I have done the same things with friends and men. Now I am single and spend most of my time with my family. I have a couple of TRUE friends and I feel blessed.

calliope said...

wow. I so so get this. I was once the girl that NEEDED (as in primal need) to be friends with everyone. It was exhausting. Somehow I learned to let go and cherish people that give to me as much as I give to them.

Anonymous said...

I hear you on this one, just having lost a friend I've had since high school. It is so sad when you try to keep things going, especially when you share a history together, and the other person just drops you for no apparent reason.

I had no idea Nellie Olson was a comic! I was such a huge fan of LHOTP as a child that I wore braids (like Laura, my idol at the time) and called my parents ma and pa. Too funny!

Erin said...

LHOTP is a musical playing in Minneapolis right now! Melissa Gilbert is playing Ma, how crazy is that? Allison came to town to see the show and apparently caused lots of people to be quite awestruck. It's getting good reviews and I think they've even extended the run here, so there's been a lot of talk about it going to Broadway.

Jess said...

I have had so many friendships like that and it is a HARD mold to break out of. Sometimes, I still find myself going back there. Old habits die hard! I'm glad that you are realizing this about your current friend. Letting people use you is so hard on your psyche.

CD and SP said...

i admit sometimes i am a bad friend, but it seems when i reconnect with someone after a while, the friendship spark is still there--and if they called me out of the blue passing through my town, i would be THRILLED beyond belief! so, if this friend wouldn't be excited to hear from you spur-of-the-moment, don't call her again--she/he doesn't deserve your sweetness!

Malea said...

"Never make someone a priority if they can make you an option."

Anonymous said...

I agree with alot of what you are saying but I also believe there are exceptions to ever rule. I think with friends as with family there is give and take and sometimes that makes a relationship one sided. Sometimes, friends need you to take a lot more than you expected and you need to understand that it may be a temporary thing and not personal. I'm not saying this is true in your situation, I'm just referring to my own experiences. I have had friends who have been so close and then in an instance been so far for so long. I have come to understand how and why this may happen as I too have done the same. Life is never black and white although we sometimes wish it was to make it easier to deal with. Talking to people and letting them understand your needs always makes for better decision making in the end (and less regrets).