Monday, July 25, 2005

A Bitter Moment

I was asked by a friend a few weeks ago exactly why I had broken off contact with another, mutual (at least at one time) friend. I didn't want to answer - my issues with said person aren't her business - but I did say that when it came to the mutual (former) friend, I'd finally realized that there wasn't much hope with this person as discourse goes (discourse implying a two-way conversation rather than an audience/monologue situation). She asked for details, and I said:

Some people have conversations, others hold court. I realized that the whole 'friendship' had been rendered moot by the frequent requests (if not commands) to attend a session in some other guise (most often a chat). I was raised in the Baptist Church, and I am intimately acquainted with the way that a so-called chat segues a sermon. This occurance does not happen by accident. Most frequently, the sermon would be about how awful things were for this person, or how much better things would be if this person was simply listened to since they had been so maltreated of late/over their lifetime/for the common good, etc.

And since I was so good, so decent, really, how could I not agree?

I got tired of that, and for the fact that it hadn't always been that way. But what I pegged as eccentricity gradually segued into outright listen-to-me-or-you're-insensitive manipulations. A tendancy to throw tantrums. And every question had a pre-programmed answer, expected. How do you answer 'no' to anything framed like 'you're a decent person and I'm a wretch who needs 300 bucks and will starve without it, but really, the choice is up to you...'

It is the hallmark of a manipulator, outward or hidden, direct or sideways, to pitch a fit. Somebody who has learned that if you scream, most people will do something to stop you from screaming.

Example
So, there's the tantrum. As an observer of the tantrum there are a series of choices. You can endure the tantrum. You can evaluate the tantrum. You can estimate the length of the tantrum. You can consider the cause of the tantrum. You can schedule around the tantrum (a frequent step), or build tantrum-time into the friendship. You can pity the tantrum, resent the tantrum, de-value the tantrum or put the tantrum into its own box, accept that it's going to happen. You can even get used to the tantrum, accept it as that broken step on the way upstairs, the one that always squeaks no matter what you do to fix it. All these ways around the tantrum.

But the one thing you cannot do, despite the implication by the tantrum-ee, is prevent the tantrum. They will always have the tantrum. It is part of the schtick.

So all that said, once it is realized that the tantrum, like gravity and the firmness of the earth is inevitable, one can remove one's self from the equation in good conscience. Its not like one has lost a friend, that's already past. One has just disengaged from a figurehead. Posessed of tantrums.

All this I told her. She nodded and agreed.

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