Up until recently, I always thought it better to tell your close friends the real reasons behind your decisions and actions, as real friends generally accept you no matter what, and having true friends in your life is a blessing not to be under-estimated
I can be a bit anal about this, as I’m over sensitive about lies (even though I am at times, a liar). I like people who tell you how it is, even when it isn’t rosy, because you know where you are with them.
But I also have friends who believe they are being a better friend by not being straight with me, if the issue is controversial, hurtful and/or potentially explosive, and I see this method as just as committed, compassionate and loving.
Another thoughtful way of dealing with a lack of understanding; both methods come from the desire to be a good friend. It’s a matter of preference, rather than better or worse ways
HOWEVER, if your reasons for doing something or not doing something are kinda abnormal to said friend(s), and especially if they cannot understand or relate to them, they can and do make judgements about you that are outright wrong and hurtful, and if the reasons become increasingly outlandish, the less people get you, and the more you are subjected to being labelled something you are not
Which kinda pisses all of us off!
SO, I am learning that sometimes it is wise (or is it?) to provide a normal reason as your cover story, ‘cos sending a 6 text explanation of your insane reasoning and idiosyncrasies is no use, if it just pisses your mates off, cos they can’t understand how the explanation justifies the action.
Then what use is the truth to either party?
I began my quest to be honest about how my symptoms affect my capabilities, hoping to shed some light on the mentally unusual, and also, to retain closeness in my friendships by being me. What I am beginning to learn is that sometimes it makes sense to lie, if protecting your privacy with a lie comes from something other than –
I periodically test the waters on these issues with friends, openly; and sadly my thoughts are often proved correct. For instance, I told my friend about the new law that allowed disabled people 2 hours grace to make it in in the morning, due to the plethora of shite that a differently skilled person may need to wade through, before they leave the house
I asked them how they would feel if I sauntered into the office at 11am most days, explaining that I need to get ready at a slugs pace, to prevent a phat old dose of anxiety. Pace is essential to most mentally challenged folk and if rushed, serious painful consequences often follow.
And acting fine all day when you are not, generally leads to a night of diazepam by the bucket load, and mood swings a plenty
Their response was – well I would be pissed off with that!!!! Why should they be allowed that perk? Well; Because it’s not a bloody perk, it’s a necessity for people who want to work, but cannot cope with the morning rush rush rush that comes naturally to others. Rush Rush Rush turns into Anxiety Anxiety Anxiety, a desperate attempt to put on a front, and a marathon of mental strength to make it through to 5pm
Tumbleweed followed… and when I sit back and listen to conversations about disabilities that you can’t see, I hear the same sentences and attitudes over and over again. So slamming your head into this brick wall of ignorance repeatedly, can only go on for so long before it needs some fresh eyes
Now ADD friends of friends…when a new one pops into the equation and has even less understanding of neurotic and unusual stress, new friend begins to reinforce the idea that the reasons are bollox, or at best, an excuse to lay in and be a friend or employee when it suits! FFS!!!
Then add to the equation that the reasons change and intensify as the illness brings about new challenges, that are even more difficult to relate to. The new friend of your friend has her own ideas about your reasons, and before you know it, your deemed a manipulating, selfish, lazy, sponging, weak person, constantly trying new ways to get out of things. Talking straight about madness, without mutual understanding, does not always trump the old diarrhoea card
The frustration is palpable, but totally understandable when you look at the wider cultural outlook of those who are different. Its fashionable to vilify the different, and unfashionable to try to walk in the shoes of someone odd and brain-damaged instead (yes, mentally ill is another word for brain damage, we don’t act in normal ways, ‘cos our brains don’t work properly!)
Then I have to step back and look at what the friend of the friend does for my friend.
If she is supportive and kind and she enriches the life of one of my best friends, and also provides a sounding board for the frustrations and judgements that my friend has for me, then how can I resent her?
She may be reinforcing archaic and incorrect conclusions about me, but she is entitled to an opinion and lets face it, if 90% of people don’t understand or have any compassion for mentally ill people who receive disability and its PERKS!!!! It’s not her fault, but a cultural failure to step outside the box when confronted with oddness
The friend of a friend makes a fracture to the connection, but I have to balance that with the fact that she is a great friend in her own way, and unfortunately, until the ignorance surrounding us crazy folk is eradicated (fuck me, will it ever happen?), I can’t blame the friend of a friend in the end… just at the start (my bad)
So….To conclude, I suck it up, I remember that friendships, like any other relationships are often tested and they go through periods of greatness and not so greatness, but in spite of all the misunderstandings and sensitivities, if we are willing to still love and care for each other, and they manage to love us, even when they have assigned unjust, but fully believed truths, about the dodgy roots of our decisions; that makes them a spangly friend
It teaches tolerance in small doses granted, but it is still tolerance, on both sides of the coin
Finally, it reinforces my belief that self understanding along with reminders of the strength we have, that is perceived as weakness, allows us all to grow. And the love that underpins it all, is what matters. It’s what enables us to get over the hurdles.
SO; after some thought, a shitty and painful situation is a side effect of all long-standing friendship. Not only that, but they give me a chance to experience the wider majority judgements that come my way, from society at large…We seem to have developed a habit of assigning negative traits to any situation that we can’t relate to, it all gets rather cynical when we don’t compute….and without the existence of a ‘swap brains day’, it inspires me to find a better way to explain things
Perhaps nausea 🙂
When push comes to shove, she is trying her best and so am I, and knowing that we both try to understand and make allowances for each others short sighted-ness, is a gift that can only come from a friend who is worth her weight in gold
A friend of a friend who has got you all wrong, is one of life’s pooey deliveries for the misjudged mentalist, but if that person makes my friend’s life better, her opinion of me has to come at the back of the cue…
In the mean time, lets hope someone rescues psychiatry from medicine, and hands things over to psychology for a start
Until then, friendship is worth the effort, as friends are the family we choose…Ups and downs are natural whether you’re crazy or sane, a liar or a truth teller!