I burn friendships. I often feel the build up; hot magma boils in my veins until it spews out. The lava flings itself high and seems to get a trajectory towards specific friendships. It burns everything that might ever have been, leaving an empty hollow from the decomposing friendships. A plaster cast made from figures frozen in the molten ash, a curiosity for the ages. I can see the shape of what once was, mourn for its loss, but I know it will never be again. A body frozen in time from Vesuvius’s eruption on Pompeii.
My island volcano is also a lot like Hawaii. With each successive eruption, my island has grown. I creep a little further out to see. I have “grown up.” I am more mature and know how to better handle friendships. And yet, I am still burning friendships. how much have I actually grown if I am still so combustible? When can I claim I an adult in my friendships?
The Cause for Introspection
Living in a foreign country, I quickly found a core group of people with whom I associate. Some of these people never got beyond the friendly acquaintance phase. We friend-ed each other on Facebook, liked random posts (maybe even wrote an innocuous comment). We’d hang at the same table when we showed up to the same party. We might have planned on meeting up for drinks, but nothing was firm; everything subject to change.
But there was one or two people who seemed to resonate with me. The building blocks for a friendship start to cement and thoughts of, “It’s going to last!” whizzed through my body, hungering for a connection. We started to hang out. Ladies’ night every Tuesday and/or Friday. We would travel to the big city to go shopping. We would invite each to dinner out.Things were going great. Connections were building.
And then something changed. It was a gradual process. I wasn’t tagged in as many Facebook posts. We didn’t seem to be meeting up as often. And then, wham-o! My friends delete themselves from our small Facebook messenger group. Every time I chatted with one of them, the dialogue seemed to focus on what the other two were doing without me. I was ignored at Ladies’ Nights if we both showed up.
I finally just exploded.
Introspection Part II
I often over compensate in my quest for stable friendships. I’m too acquiescing or I’m not honest in my feelings. I know why this happens. I was bullied by another girl in sixth grade. The lessons I learned to 1) become her friend & 2) what was required to stay her friend remain with me. Even as I act, I see the ripples caused by this unhealthy relationship.
But it is very hard to change a lifetime of habit. I try. With each new friendship, I try a little bit harder to stand up for myself, to not say “yes” so often. But I find myself taking the path of least resistance. I hear myself saying, even as i write this, “What does it matter if she thinks (whatever the topic is)? It’s no skin off my nose.” Or “I’m not going to change his mind, so I’ll say nothing.”
And in trying to avoid conflict, I set into motion my tectonic fury. Sometimes, what happens or discussions truly don’t matter. And then other times, they really do, but I don’t stand up. I don’t act the adult I want to be in my relationships. I let the anger and frustration steam and boil; the plates of this ill-fitting friendship rubbing, causing minor tremors; finally, the pressure must be relieved…BOOM!
My eruption during this last friendship break down was not as large and vast as previous eruptions. I feel a little proud of myself. When I finally realized what was going on, I didn’t play the game. I didn’t try to change who I was to meet the unknown standards of this “friendship.” I wish I had confronted the person when this first happened, but hindsight, etc., etc. I stated my feelings and let the lies roll right off of me. When an explosion from one friend occurred, I did not participate. I deleted the message without reading it and refuse to let that negativity enter my life.
But it still makes me wonder…what am I doing to change? And is the change enough?
Inspired by: Daily Prompt “I am a Rock”