Thursday, June 9, 2011

Learning About People

One of the things I've begun learning about the people in my life is that sometimes they shouldn't actually be in my life. This sounds all dramatic and emo and it actually isn't. It's not quite residual emotional pain; perhaps "regret" is more fitting.

I really like tea, and I used to watch a video podcast whose hosts, a man and a woman, I knew casually. Once they came to New York City and my boyfriend at the time and I were asked to co-host; we had a lot of fun. However, walking around the city after filming, I became aware that the woman was analyzing me and our conversation. As a trained clinical social worker she may not have been aware she was doing this, and if she was, perhaps didn't mean to cross a line, although a later conversation with the wife of the male host left me reconsidering this mindset. She - the female co-host - is extremely intelligent, and I liked her in many regards, but I didn't trust her: I felt like I might be under the metaphorical psychological microscope at any time. She was also very abrupt and tended to be unsparingly honest. (At least, this is how I felt.) I don't remember if words were exchanged, since this all happened several years ago, but even now when I think of her, the residual emotion is one of deep mistrust; I withdrew sharply from the burgeoning friendship feeling that I had to protect myself. (At least once I wrote a blog post remarking on overextending myself, mentioning my long three-hour daily train commute, taking four graduate-level classes, and working 30 hours a week at three part-time jobs; her response was that she could "totally one-up that" but would let me have my moment. Not really a competition.)

Another acquaintance was a convert to Catholicism. I admired her because of her degree in theology and because of her intelligence, but I had to withdraw from the friendship because of the manner in which she tried to convince me that I needed to follow Catholicism to the letter; any questioning or doubt - especially blogging about it, as I am wont to do - was an invitation to argue extensively about my attitudes. Furthermore, linking to any news regarding a religious policy of which the church does not approve was tantamount to agreeing with the opposing viewpoint. I enjoy having discussions in which religiosity is explored, but I was frustrated at her inability to recognize that there are issues with which I struggle, that blogging helps me sort through whatever issues are in my mind, and that being told to swallow those doubts and follow the church regardless of my doubts exacerbates my doubts.

Two other acquaintances had been long-time friends whose formerly close relationships diminished around the time of my wedding last month. I had been advised in both cases to just let the friendships drift off into the ether, but I found that I couldn't do that, if for no other reason that I was genuinely bothered by their behavior and wanted to, if not resolve the issue, at least prevent things from dragging on indefinitely. (I prefer getting things out in the open and either resolving the issue, or agreeing to just part ways.) Both friendships have since ended.

In each circumstance I regret the manner in which I acted in some capacity, but mostly I regret that the friendships had degraded to such a state. I don't think I was entirely without fault, but it's still difficult for me to let these things go easily; I find myself thinking and rethinking about the circumstance, although that I was more sorry that they ended badly than that they actually ended should tell me that it was time to let the relationship go.

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