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Monday, May 12, 2008

Friendships and emotional intimacy

In the last few conversations I've had with people on this topic, I'm noticing a trend (this does not include my conversation with you, Hirk--remember, you're exempt from anything I post here). One of the ways I figure things out is to talk with others--to hear their opinions--to weigh the evidence--to draw conclusions. This has worked beautifully as I've tried to deal with feelings which crop up as I remember my past. But as I try to solve my problems concerning friendships and emotional intimacy, one thing has become abundantly clear. Everyone's tired of me talking about it. Interestingly, if I wait until we've been talking about it for about five minutes, then bring up something Therapist has said, without exception, each person has directed me to talk to Therapist. There is a palpable relief behind their words. I can hear them thinking, "Thank the Lord for Therapist. She can pay him to discuss this topic."

Given that I'm fairly good about recognizing when a subject has become unwelcome, and that I'm an expert at shutting up about things that affect me personally, I will post this final entry and then, for all intents and purposes, the subject is closed. I will no longer speak of it here, in chats or email, nor in person.

But I'm going to just say a couple of things. My way of concluding this particular chapter.

When I posted about my fear of sharing advice, Molly Sue responded in a comment. I don't know Molly Sue. I tried to visit her blog, but it's private. I like what she has said on my blog and I'm glad she visits. This time she said this:

"There is an aspect of this that is very important...choosing NOT to tell him means that you collude with him to keep you both powerless. He may need to know that he is missing his mark in some areas of his life and your choosing not to tell him is as destructive to him and to your friendship. Well, more so. It does no one any favors. And no one grows or evolves."
I'm certain that she's right. Tolkien Boy, himself, concurs with her:
Tolkien Boy: I have received an enormous amount of advice how to clean up my life this weekend, and doubtless something settled in beneficially.
me: I hope you received it from people who were speaking from experience and who have spotless lives.
Tolkien Boy: It was from people who meant well. (Insert good advice from various wonderful Tolkien Boy friends)
me: Why did they tell you those things?
Tolkien Boy: They could see I was miserable. And people like to help, if they can.
Except...I don't. I find that most advice is taken with cynicism at best, derision at worst. If I feel the need to give advice, it's usually because I care so much about a person it almost aches--but that's when I normally hold my tongue the most. I'm aware that nothing I say will help the situation, nor will knowing that I love them and wish I knew what to do to bring joy to their lives. So...I say nothing.

Perhaps that's wrong. Possibly, I could help a friend keep from making a mistake, better his/her life, know that I wish to be with them no matter what the difficulty. But more than likely I'll be thought a meddling know-it-all, who really knows nothing. And quite honestly, even if I was helpful, that would not be as memorable as if they worked things out for themselves.

I've drawn some conclusions in my epiphanic growth, and in my stunted recent conversations. I'm realizing that there are times when people can be hurt beyond healing, and it's very possible that I will never understand human interaction, nor appropriate response in a situation where it might be a good idea to help a friend. It's very possible that in the events that shaped who I am today, my ability to trust was battered to death. There's a good chance that I can never experience the closeness and intimacy that real friends feel after years of knowing each other, simply because that is no longer a part of who I am.

But I got close. There were moments when I truly thought I could have the types of relationships I see around me. And I tried like crazy. If it had been possible to solve this problem through charts, graphs, analysis, data harvesting, or poll samples, I would have succeeded beautifully.

That's all, I suppose. My apologies to those I harried with my eternal questions, conversations, and debates about this topic. When you talk to me again, I have a list of subjects which will be more comfortable for us both.


  1. If you decide you do want to talk about it more, I'm always up for a chat. I've been thinking a lot about my relationships with people lately.

  2. "I find that most advice is taken with cynicism at best, derision at worst."

    What kind of ninnies are you friends with? *wink* Seriously, I understand not wanting to "hear it". And there are few things more annoying than people always offering unsolicited advice.

    But isn't giving and taking advice (or constructive criticism) part of maturing? I mean, I do need to learn certain things on my own, but I sure hope that my friends who care about me will help me to at least SEE pitfalls ahead whether or not I choose to fall in myself, y'know?

    Anyway, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you're not alone in questioning these kinds of things. I don't claim to understand the depth to which your questions and doubts go, but I at least understand the questioning. I think it's something we Ns just do naturally. :-)