Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thin on the ground

Friendships can get thin on the ground as we age. I imagine mine are more precious and important to me in the absence of a significant other. Who do we we bounce ourselves off unless it's a friend, usually long term, usually a cornucopia of memories enriching the shared experience of our lives.

That's why it's such a shock when a long term friend, supportive, kind, carrying each other through a myriad of downers and uppers and inbetweeners comes out of left field with some rather appalling shyte yesterday.

For instance:

(R) M, you'd be far better off if you weren't so passionate about things, if you weren't so keen on feminism and politics and all that other stuff you do like writing. If you'd let all that stuff go and just confine yourself to a smaller world that would take far less energy, and you wouldn't get so worked up about stuff.

(R)I can think of all sorts of people who are mentally ill. We are far too tolerant of mental illness. For instance gays: gays are mentally ill. They are rebelling against the laws of nature.

(M)I don't know why you're talking like this. One of my children......

(R)Oh yeah, I forgot, one of your kids is gay.

When I am completely shocked I go into withdrawal mode. Yeah, I engage for a while but my bafflement and confusion takes a while to kick in. Usually long after the conversation is over. Today I am saddened and disheartened.

He has never spoken like this before in all the years I have known him.

When I am attacked at a core level, when my very spirit is attacked, the wound runs deep: has he always thought this way and didn't verbalize it? Had contempt for my passions and creativity? He knew and engaged with my gay child since she was 15. Is that how he felt about her for all those years?

Wow, I honestly feel as if I don't want him in my life anymore.

Yeah, I'm devastated and so very sad.

35 comments:

  1. Perhaps his problems with you and your child have more to do with him and his issues than either of you...age brings many things including hardening of the arteries, fear and sometimes a conservatism borne of that, and unless his behavioral shift has some physical cause about which you are unaware, it might be best to part company. Your "passionate about things" personality hasn't altered. This is a good thing. If his has or his world has gotten smaller, then feel sorry for him, and go on as you can.

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    1. One of my friends said once a friend uses "you're very" or "you're too" in a sentence it's time to pull the curtains. I think she's right.

      He has had 1/2 a cancerous liver removed. The most recent biopsy was clear. Another one coming up in July. He has gone more religious than normal, I find. And I've become aware I've irritated him with my steadfast atheism.

      XO
      WWW

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  2. WWW nailed it. This must be about his discomfort in his aging skin and brain than about you!

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    1. Not sure about that Molly. He's never been this openly critical of me before, it was almost like he's been hiding it and then this barely contained explosion.

      XO
      WWW

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  3. I understand totally. I also think this is more about him. Aging can change people but not knowing this person, I am loathe to say anything. One thing though I do know is that it is devastating when a friend says something that shows they don't really know or understand you. The hurt can last forever. I must say that I love your writing. Don't ever stop.

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    1. Thank you Mary, how kind! I am devastated but not as much as I expected. I had valued our long friendship. But I felt very judged and misunderstood and unappreciated. And I frankly don't know if there's anywhere to go with it now.

      XO
      WWW

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  4. Wow. That sounds like a friend who isn't much of a friend. Doesn't appreciate you as you are. Thinks he knows better how you should live (is he perfect himself, then?). Has no empathy for people suffering from mental illness. Is homophobic and just plain wrong.

    Weird that this is the first you've seen of his attitudes, so not surprising you'd be shocked and wondering what the hell!

    It's a difficult situation. You care about this person and have a long history of mutual support. Then he says things that show you he's not who you thought. Also, with those attitudes, he can't be very good for you or your self-esteem.

    I've been there, and had cut off contact with a friend like that for quite a while. It's been renewed a little (baby steps), but my trust and respect are gone and the friendship will never be what it was. I still care about her of course, and I do miss the frequent communication we had, and there were many valuable parts of the friendship, and I didn't mean to hurt her, but ... I need to spend my time in communication with people who like and respect me, and who respect others too and aren't so bloody blind to their own assholiness.

    It hurts to lose -- or give up on -- a longtime friend. But a "pretend" friend, you're better off without. As you know; I'm not telling you anything new. Quality, not quantity, is what counts.

    I particularly recognize the "I'm telling you this for your own good" bullshit, which goes on to judge you rather harshly and extremely disrespectfully. I didn't deserve that, and neither do you.

    -Kate

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    1. I think he views himself as fairly perfect Kate. He went on a mad hunt for a wife when he became a widower (I do believe he had considered me, but I am not wife material + I'm not even remotely attracted to him physically) and he "settled" for a woman in his church after falling for a few others who rejected him. He's been a great advisor to me as he's a solid type: great money manager and practical.

      We've had many laughs and shared many losses. When this kind of shyte happens I question the very foundations of such friendships. No one is perfect, least of all me, but I felt there was true regard and respect there.

      XO
      WWW

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  5. As we age we start to loss that filter in our brains that keeps us from blurting out all the thoughts in our head. Perhaps that's what's going on with the guy you wrote about. I know if someone was so dismissive of my dedication to writing and causes that I care about, I'd be hurt to my core and think that person didn't really know me at all. And his opinion on gay people is beyond the pale. I don't understand how people can still belief crap like that. How does a 'friend' reel in comments like that? I don't think it's possible.

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    1. Yeah Jean, the more I think about it the more I'm letting it go and surprisingly with very little grief or overthinking it. Overthinking has been one of the banes of my life.

      As we age, I do believe we drop some of our poorer performing traits

      XO
      WWW

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  6. I rarely comment, but yes, I would be beyond appalled. I would probably need space and in my case if asked why I would need to say so. But that's just me. My daughter would say something like.....it sounds like he was hurting and needed to hurt someone else. I'd say tough shit.

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    1. In over 30 years this has been the first time I've felt ridicule and contempt from him. Not a good feeling at all. Kind of unforgivable.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. Maybe it is the beginnings of dementia? Or a drug he is taking, I know that folks go downhill in all kinds of ways.

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    1. I don't really think so, I just senses this disapproval at the outset of our conversation involving youth and the challenges of the millenials. He is not as tolerant of "differences" in others as I am. A bit cookie-cutter but I've never judged him on it as he had a weirdish childhood, brought up as an only with elderly parents. But this was beyond the pale.

      XO
      WWW

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  8. I'd say age is doing the talking here. I know of people who if they were able to hear themselves NOW would have been appalled at themselves ten years earlier. It's awful, WWW.

    Don't take it to heart. Doesn't devalue the friendship you had. Relationships, people - as you well know - sometimes do change. I wouldn't sever the friendship on account of some tactless remarks. Just be aware that it's different now. Make allowances. Muster patience you didn't think you had. HA! Anyway, as an aside, even if none of your children were gay his remark would still make me scratch my head.

    On a private note: If one aspect of ageing holds future terror for me it's that I won't know should I, or rather my brain, turn to mush. I keep paranoia at bay by fervent hope and trusting that my family's genes (both sides) will hold good for me too. In the meantime, and to play to my sense of drama, I panic the moment I can't remember something INSTANTLY.

    Hug,
    U

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    1. Maybe I'll be one isolated old lady, huddled under a shawl in her wheelchair, wheezing pitifully at the care home attendants, friendless and alone. Hoisted on several petards. I'm glad none of us know our ends.

      There is dementia in my family but brought on by the death of children.

      I don't worry about it. One friend has the beginnings but is going to extraordinary lengths to halt it. I must right about that soon.

      XO
      WWW

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  9. I have a friend who is quite outspoken. I love her for it. But some of her opinions are of the "gays are mentally ill" variety and I am taken aback by it. I don't say anything, I still feel that her good points outweigh her not-so-good points. So I don't want to drop her as a friend, I just have to steel myself for the occasional bombshell comment. Is this guy worth the effort, or is he better dropped?

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    1. What hurt me most of all Annie was his attack on my personality. That is a deal breaker, even if he was super cranky. He doesn't suffer depression but is upset because of his surgery not allowing him to go on his 4 cruises a year as he can't get health insurance. He likes carefully controlled environments and predictability. To each his own, I wouldn't dream of being critical of him. It's part of who he is.

      XO
      WWW

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    2. Well yes, that would be a deal breaker for me too. Life's too short to be putting up with that kind of "advice".

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  10. I can relate and your conclusion in my opinion is the right one.

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    1. As we age the options get fewer with regard to supportive friends. I'm of the opinion I can't trust him now.

      XO
      WWW

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  11. Hmmm, we are good friends as long as you support me, agree with me, and never voice your true self and your own feelings...hmmm just what is friendship anyway? Will ponder this as you kick him to the curb

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  12. Extraordinary that he's suddenly come out with all this stuff after apparently being quite different for many years. What's got into him, I wonder? Why does he suddenly think you'd enjoy a "smaller world" rather than all your special passions? And why the sudden warped view of gays? Was he secretly like this all along or has something influenced him? But such a shift in view from someone you've known for so long must be very upsetting.

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  13. I feel in another part of me that I was being patronized. Not a nice feeling. I had never perceived this intolerance before. Even when he had issues with his DIL and asked my advice as to how to deal with her and I suggested he open his heart to her perceived imperfections. Which he took.

    I doubt if there's dementia, then again I'm not F2F with him which would probably help.

    I'm trying to to give it too much headroom. I just know that something has shifted. As to its permanence, who knows.

    XO
    WWW

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  14. My father always said "if a man has 3 good friends by the time he dies he can count himself a lucky man!" I would make that Person and agree with it. I find women to be especially hard on each other. Such is life - a bit of a bitch isn't it!

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  15. H'm interesting comment on women. I wouldn't agree. I have found my most stalwart friends among women. Men tend to fade off once they find an S.O. And my sampling percentage is quite large.

    He was one of my longest male friends.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. My comment was made because when I bought a company [with no money down!] I had not one woman friend who said "good for you" or give me suggestions re increasing business etc etc.
      I find the same thing now - if I mention that I owned my own company [and bought it when I had no money] men are full of congratulations and questions, women are silent.
      Maybe it is something in my tone? Could be.

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    2. I'll offer my opinion BB in that many traditional women wouldn't have a clue what that would be like and wouldn't know what to say. I owned my own company for years,founded it and ran it. Men accepted it and commented knowledgably, women were baffled and viewed me as an aberration of some kind. Today is a different story.

      XO
      WWW

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  16. That must have felt devastating, WWW! Do you know whether he suffers from any illness or has ever had a stroke. I thought of my dear Dad as I read your post. He had several strokes, after the 2nd and worse one he developed a form of dementia (from hardening of arteries in brain). He changed from the sweetest, kindest most honest man who had always adored my mother over almost 50 years - into a nasty-mouthed mean person. My mother was so upset at the things he said to her. He didn't say anything bad to me, except he told the truth about what he really thought about my significant other - not good! This sounds kind of in the same wheelhouse.

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    1. I have given some consideration to the comments that he might have a condition that renders him a personality change due to hardening of the arteries or beginnings of dementia. I'll see what happens now, if he calls or texts. Thank you!

      XO
      WWW

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  17. Twilight may well be right. The same thing happened to a neighbour of mine when he had a stoke. A lovely old man who my wee daughter loved. Visited him in the hospital after his stroke and he had become a dirty old man - swearing, grabbing at the nurses etc etc. His poor wife was so mortified.

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    1. Yes personality change could be possible. Or simply railing against his condition of confinement.

      XO
      WWW

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  18. I'm late reading this. From my own recent experience, I know that grieving this kind of lost relationship is as painful as grieving someone's death. It questions everything about your past relationship, your perceived place in other people's minds, and your own discernment. I'm sorry you felt so bushwhacked. Of course you shut down.

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    1. Exactly Linda. I am questioning everything and not liking it at all. As if all those years he held back on his true self.

      Thank you for understanding about the shut-down. Mentally I still can't go there as it is too distressing. I'll await a contact from him, if any.

      XO
      WWW

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