Burning Bridges

Last night I saw a good friend.  We didn’t speak to each other at all.

Recently, this friend felt as though I wronged her by means of a joke.  I apologized and assured her that I meant no harm.  Of course, the latter should go without saying between good friends.

A few days passed and I still felt bad about the situation.  Mutual confidants assured me that everything was fine.

And then I got an email from my good friend.  “You’re really fucking hard to be friends with,” she wrote.  “You spend most of your time trying to be an emotional automaton… You’re too busy drowning the hurt, and yourself, in Jameson… You’re selfish and controlling, and you don’t mind hurting people to get what you need… It seems like you think the sun doesn’t shine on anyone but you and the people in a five foot radius of you”.  Assumptions about my opinions of her life were also presented.  She told me that she has made exceptions for me, and usually she would just have walked away.  She ended the email with love.

The inaccurate description of me by my good friend was only half of what bothered me.  No one knows me better than I know myself.  I am not selfish and controlling, and I certainly don’t hurt people to get what I need.  My needs are fairly simple: food, shelter, friends, good times and bad times (equally inspiring), and an occasional new dress.  Never do I recall even being tempted to inflict physical or emotional pain on another to obtain something from the list.  I think the sun shines on everyone when it’s sunny, literally and metaphorically.

Furthermore, I don’t know what I have said or done to make her think that I have judgments about her life.  As long as my friends are happy, I am happy.  If they have a boyfriend/girlfriend that consumes most of their lives, that’s terrific.  I am happy when my friends are in love, and I will always be there to comfort them if their heart breaks.

Finally, yes I have problems with my emotions.  This is not a unique characteristic.  For most, emotions are both hard to show and hard not to show.  In my case, it has nothing to do with Jameson consumption.  I am living my life the very best I can, and I never take for granted the people around me who support me and love me no matter what.  Friendship to me means unconditional love and loyalty.

So, to reiterate, the previous three paragraphs are only a part of what troubled me with this email.  My main problem was that it was cruel and unnecessary.  Even if these are my weaknesses, I find it hurtful that a good friend would throw them in my face.  I am imperfect, and I acknowledge that fact in my head every single day.

But I find it hard to see imperfection in my friends.  I see human moments.  Everyone can be selfish at times, and everyone can be controlling.  Most importantly, everyone can be in need – the person who broke your heart or the friend who made a list of your supposed defects.  To give to these people and to love them is not heroic or commendable, it’s humanity at its best.

I’m not sure what this email was intended to do, if not simply to make me feel terrible.  (She was hurt by my joke, so maybe this was an eye for an eye?)  In any case, I put my self-hatred out there.  Please be aware that I love myself just as much, only I don’t often write about it.

I feel there were expectations of a reaction.  Expectations can be exhausting to live up to, so I choose to just live.  If I unintentionally hurt someone in the process, I will ask for forgiveness.  And when someone hurts me, I will use my strength to forgive them without request, as I have here, with my good friend.

Unfortunately, things are not the same now.  I find it hard to hug someone who has vilified me.  That being said, I still love her and if I ever find her in need, I will not hesitate to help her.

It would pain me to know that anyone else I hold so close to my heart feels this way about me.  I hope my friendship is not a burden from which my loved ones long to be relieved.

However, if this is the case and you like to burn bridges, I’ve got plenty of matches.  But beware – my bridges are made of stone.  My bridges are hard to burn.

5 Responses to “Burning Bridges”

  1. dave Says:

    I think you’re perfect. Let’s hook up for Mardi Gras!

  2. Ashleigh Says:

    Of course we’ll hook up for Mardi Gras. It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without that happening.

  3. Adam Says:

    Remember also that this type of criticism can be reflective, or transferral. Take a moment to think: all the shortcomings she’s calling you out on are the things she can’t stand about herself, in the potential sense at very least. She probably feels that you are behaving in this fashion by influence of her own sensitivity to the darker side of these human frailties she seems to see in you– things that frighten and confuse her, to be sure. To her conscious mind she’s reaching out to you, but she really wants you to share in her weaknesses — the horror of your apparent lack of emotion is her fear of your intellect, and she seems to want to control you by means of manipulating what emotions she assumes you have despite you behaving like an automaton. Some of it seems just plain childish, which is right on cue with having your feelings hurt, isn’t it? I had someone give me the silent treatment last semester, a former roommate. Not for anything too drastic, either. Emotional maturity is rare. I agree — I’ve never known you to be anything less than perfect, by which I mean you’re not an awful c-word or anything, so if you’re alright then fair is perfect. I’d say you were lovely even, but then I’d just be kissing your ass and that’s pathetic. So you’ll have to settle for perfect. Give me an address and I’ll send you some Popeyes.

  4. Ashleigh Says:

    Adam, that was a brilliant comment. I was actually going to mention that I felt like she was projecting feelings about herself onto me, but I deleted it because, well, I never want to seem like I’m making accusation or just being mean in my writing. I usually feel pretty good about myself, or as good as an average human can feel about his/herself. That’s why is sucks when someone you love says all that stuff.
    Man oh man.
    I need that Popeyes.

  5. February 29th, 2004 (Entry # 5) | Keep My Words Says:

    [...] Then I wondered if people have these thoughts before blowing their brains out or jumping off a bridge.  If I just pull this trigger, I’ll never have to make another decision [...]

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