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Thriving as a normal, friend type

Thriving is a decision. Rather, it is a complex set of decisions. But to begin, we feel that something is not right and do something to mitigate a negative spiral. I thrive when I’m around self confident people who, even if they don’t feel that way, are committed to being well.

Whenever I hear a woman cursing a man, I try to find out what kind of relationship they had. At one point, I placed some of the responsibility on women who have cultivated unrealistic expectations via  Ego Butter Barbie. Later, I objected to men using S/M bedroom games as an excuse to physically torture women.

Since then, I have come to understand that quite a few women have a high tolerance for mistreatment from intimate partners. One label does not fit every woman, but it is my understanding that they get a high from retelling the worst moments of their relationships.

I will never advocate for a woman to stay in a relationship with a man who mistreats her. Hearing such stories causes me a great deal of stress, so for me, there’s a fine line between unburdening to a friend and forcing that person to experience abuse vicariously.

Specifically, I would like to discuss when this unburdening happens after it is clear what an entanglement is all about: Banana milk. When milking is over, some women say they deserve a huge helping of chocolate and cry because it was not offered to them. They refuse to see the man’s passive aggressive attempt to extract himself from the situation. “Hey, I don’t like you. See, I’m treating you like garbage. Get it? I’m politely ignoring you. Take a hint, go away.”

There’s a difference between feeling let down and failing to respect the other’s right to choose to be in a relationship. When the latter happens, I feel that some women offer up dignity and sanity, hoping to bribe chocolate out of a cow that can only provide banana milk.

Take my batchmate in university, for example. She had a fling with a fellow dorm resident, who was engaged to a law student residing in the UK. My closest friend and I sat her down. She was in love and imagined that he was, too. We told her that if he has a girlfriend and they’re engaged, that’s a non starter. His love was only in her imagination.

He graduated at the end of the semester, cut off all communication and got married in London two weeks after that. I agreed to give her my telephone number, thinking that she was a normal, friend type. On the phone, she sighed these words over and over: “I miss him. He dumped me, you know. But I miss him. I love him. I miss him so much. I love him so much. I really miss him. I really love him. He left me. I miss him.” She was talking to herself and I was obliged to overhear.

In person, she would ask how my day was going. I only said it was okay because on cue, she would continue from the middle of the thought I interrupted with my presence. Out of context, she’d continue with, “After the trip there he said he was going to do that thing we talked about.” He, we. There, that. She was not content with driving herself bonkers. If she had her way, I was headed there, too.

Broken hearts feel bad. I was nursing a breakup, myself.  Fortunately, I saw that past the point of helping her to unburden so she could move on, I was enabling her unhealthy choices. The fix was easy. I gradually spent less time listening to her. Today, I smile because I realise that she might have burnt through several potential friends in this way.

Thriving, in the context of emotional health, is a complex set of conscious decisions. But to begin, we feel that something is not right and do something to mitigate a negative spiral. I thrive when I’m around self confident people, even if they don’t feel great at the moment.

Professionally trained listeners are paid to witness hand wringing and repeated retells. They may say that this is a healthy way to recover. They might object to my method of thriving after a breakup, calling it love on the rebound. On the contrary, I prefer to remember, while my batchmate was strumming her pain, I was happy recovering with the delectable coach of the water polo team.

By ΠιCΘLΣ

Life is short, so let’s be decent.

37 replies on “Thriving as a normal, friend type”

Phew! Being single sounds like another life from another time. I’ve been married 13 years. I can remember being a drama queen in my day, but I was extremely picky about who I would date. I did not want to waste my time with a dude like the one that was using your friend. Hearts are fragile and should be treated with care. Do your best to stay sane out there. 🙂

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Thank you so much. I agree that it’s wise to be picky. It keeps us all healthy. What I like is how men will tell us directly they’re a bad deal from the start and let us decide if we still want the goods. I’m happy you have a lovely family to enjoy good times with. The grass looks very green from over here. x

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This is true. I’m sure you don’t remember when your brain doesn’t echo with the sound of your own voice. You have those amazing bouncing boys to keep you energised. x

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I have had a great week so far, took a trip darn sarf to see a good friend. Took some photos, ate junk food and took in a film at the cinema, it was cold but good shtuf happened. And I return to reality with a smile.

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Thank you so much, honey pie, chocolate love. I don’t know if everyone has the capacity to learn from their mistakes. It requires a certain kind of honesty (integrity is too easy a word) and the ability to hear “no” without taking the rejection personally. x

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LOL. My favorite part, “On the contrary, I prefer to remember, while my batchmate was strumming her pain, I was happy recovering with the delectable coach of the water polo team.” I’ve dropped some friends for the same reason. And in a way, I was pushed away by them. If they refuse to see reality, then I’m not gonna hang around in lala land. Great post! 😉

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It’s so great to hear from you, as always, Melissa. Rebound relationships are also a sign of neediness but I was preoccupied in a way that did not inconvenience my loved ones. I’m sorry to hear that you, too have been through this. La La Land is not the place to rescue friends from, I think. It’s best to let them stay there and stew in their own juices. They may never leave, but that’s no reason for us to not enjoy our lives.

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Self esteem is a funny thing. I read somewhere that it takes like 5 compliments to undo a negative thing to a person, so they have to hear five good things to get rid of holding onto one bad thing. My God how many good things and repeats of “you deserve better” do you need to hear after a toxic relationship. A LOT I’d say! I think everyone goes through a ‘woe is me’ section after a friendsip and you’re right we give them time to vent and stuff but I think it comes to the point if you are still living in the past you need to go talk to a therapist and they will get to the root of the problem (usually self esteem not even related to the man!!). Friends can listen but sometimes its only a stranger in a chair who can snap you out of it!! 🙂 Great post!

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Thank you so much, Carmel. Romances can end but friendships are always worth the time and effort to nurture and maintain. If they run their course it should be with mutual respect and not with angry tears. x

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It is so easy to fall into the trap of holding your friends hostage with your innermost thoughts. That is why I have FB. (kidding) Kinda… Hopefully, as we grow and mature as people, we learn to have a broader topic of conversation- and learn to stop agonizing to everyone around us. However, I must (shamefully, perhaps) admit I have fallen into the pit of self-despair over certain situations- I am grateful my friends stuck it out with me until I could become a little less self absorbed.

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Thank you for commenting, LQ. I’ve learned from that unpleasant experience to warn someone that I need to vent and give them time to respond to me. My friends and I have a code phrase and when it is invoked by one of us, it means we have to schedule a meal at a designated location to listen to each other. What strikes me, and this is the point of this post, is when someone will take up loads of my time literally replaying themselves and then passive aggressively express frustration when I’m in pain physically or emotionally. I now welcome these moments because they really help me to be efficient with my time in the aftermath.

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I have no objections to lines being drawn, I’ve drawn quite a few myself in the aftermath, but where it is to be drawn, that’s the tough one. Again, it has to be a personal choice but aren’t you left wondering if the Chinese govt wanted a little bit more of the South Sea oil?
And I can hear a few men throwing bananas out of their fruit baskets after that opalescent metaphor.

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Oh, come on. Banana milk is good. It’s tasty and goes down without a fuss. As for drawn lines, friendships are precious to me and I’ll accept my friends in spite of whatever. But they have to be real, not paying me a watered down compliment so they can waste my time. This is the bottom line. x

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Thank you. I understood you perfectly. However, the Chinese government for some bizarre reason, preferred North Sea oil, mistakenly thinking it is less crude. In Jamaica we say “oil” (pronounced aaayl) but I call it “banana milk” because I’m sure it’s not oily. But, that’s just my lay opinion.

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Women tend to define themselves by their relationships and stay in bad ones because being mistreated is better than having to sit down and deal with yourself. My policy is I’ll listen to your stories but guide you in telling.

An example being that I’ll ask you to repeat some stuff. “He beats me black and blue but I love him” sounds pretty stupid once you hear it come out your own mother and slow down to really process what you’re saying. Then I give appropriate advice: Leave him for reasons a-z. After that I’m not going to listen to someone complain over and over again. I take no pleasure in watching someone allow themselves to be a victim in exchange for pseudo self esteem (because they’re in a relationship) and attention (people patting them on back and listening to them complain day in and day out).

Ultimately if you’re not stable, the best why to thrive after a break up (and for the long term) is to take a step back and really get to know yourself sans Prince Charming. Busy yourself with goals and hobbies and whatnot so next time you’re not asking someone what to do if your boyfriend is a serial cheater. You’ll leave him all on your own.

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Thanks so much, Tahira. You’re in your twenties and you know all of this on your own. I sometimes have to remind myself that the women I talk to are in their thirties or forties and should already know all of this. It’s hard for me to give a free pass to someone who says, “Well, I don’t know any better” after hearing, “You deserve better than this” over and over again. That excuse should work just once.

I asked that person to listen to what she was saying and tell me if it made sense. She said it made perfect sense to her, at which point I realised I was talking to someone who needed professional counselling. Not everyone that comes to us for help wants to be raised up. This is where the codependencies start. If I need to unburden, I’ll say to a friend, “I’m feeling needy right now, can I bother you?” That way, they know something’s coming.

I agree that some women can’t deal with themselves. It is a choice. However, I don’t have to pay attention to them, because they are adults. I am so happy that I spent most of my adult years dealing with me on my own. I can sense the dangers pretty quickly and avoid them. Self sufficiency makes a powerful protective shield. Stay awesome and thank you again for sharing. x

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