friends, family & familiar foes

Recent experiences with relationships that some people might call friendships have left me in disequilibrium as of late. I’ve pondered the existential questions that posit that we really are the company we keep. I’ve been asked about the qualitative difference between a relationship with a friend and that with a family member. Tentative conclusions? When family members become foes they may remain family, but they are definitely not friends. When friends become friends with benefits, they effectively excommunicate themselves from the family. Most foes have experienced the pleasure and privilege of friendship at some point. When people say ‘I want this friendship to grow,’ it is, in fact, code for ‘I’d like to feel on your booty now.’ (And you all wonder what I’m doing on the weekends that I don’t post… I’m living this material.)

My last two weeks have been met with nausea, headaches, tears, and over-indulgence in foods with high cocoa content, because the level of neurotic energy it takes to psychoanalyze all of my relationships makes me want to vomit, curl up in a ball, sit in a bath of epsom salt, read self help books, listen to whale music, lick my wounds and chant ‘Nammyohorengekyo,’ while “breaking dishes up in here…dishes…dishes…dishes.”

Really, I’ve been a basket case with trying to define relationships that have never served my interests. I’ve wracked my brain about why I gave up relationships with family members, and tried to replace that vacuum with friendships that were likely as fickle as the original relationship. I wonder how it is that people I’ve only hung out with while in the presence of this girl’s best friend, Sapphire, and my sexy Latin lover Patron, think that we are actually genuine, real, in this universe, friends. I’ve taken inventory of why it is that people seem to define friendship through trauma, and family as a bottomless pit of forgiveness.

I have no conclusions, just a lot of indigestion and a lot on my mind. Friendships, like all relationships, are malleable. They are reflections of the human condition – fallible and adaptive. But let’s face it, some friendships are situations of entertainment convenience that have just dragged on way too long. Others are born of a false sense of shared identity. If you have ever had your ass whooped before, during or after calling the whoop-er ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister,’ you and I need to brainstorm together how we can both mature in our friendships. Read: Something ain’t right.

I won’t bemoan the issue. I’m still exploring my ideas about the intersection between friendship, family and romantic relationships. In my exploration, though, I’ve realized how many people don’t step back and take a good solid look at with whom God has chosen to surround them (family) and with whom they’ve chosen to surround themselves (friends). To walk through life taking for granted the steps that we take in choosing the latter, and not exploring how substantive and/or superficial all those relationships might be, is – for me – to resolve to indefinitely misuse the word ‘friend.’

What I’ve found to be most astounding, though, is that while most of us haven’t put the time it takes to do the patented festival flamenco snap into our friendships, we are capable of prolonged introspection regarding romantic relationships. Think about this: X keeps telling Y they’re going to kick Z to the curb, but X keeps sneaking around because Z makes X feel like they’re floating on air. Is X even being a good friend to Y if there are lies involved? How can Y be a good partner to X if the communication isn’t there?

Ok. So, try this one: A tells B that B is the most important person in their life. B doesn’t feel the same, but feels like they can’t say anything because it would be too callus and A thinks a lot of B. So, B keeps taking A’s calls, even when B doesn’t have anything to say. A realizes a year later that the only time B initiated a phone call to A was a butt dial before Biggie died. A feels wronged by a lack of reciprocity, but B feels pretty good about sparing A’s feelings. I hear Maury BOOOOOOOOs from the crowd. This isn’t scripted though.

Let’s make this personal. Say, you are X, your best friend Y and any drug of choice Z. Would you stick it out? What if Y were your sibling? And… what if you are A and your parent is B. Is this healthy? Do you walk away? Is it ok to tolerate behavior from your significant other that you wouldn’t tolerate from your best friend? Do you forgive your siblings for things that you would end a friendship over in half a heart beat? By you, I mean YOU. Yes, YOU! These are not rhetorical questions. I want real answers. Don’t worry, I have time. I’ll wait…

2 thoughts on “friends, family & familiar foes

  1. we all give to much of our precious time to people who aren’t worth it (family and friends alike). yes, i understand that family is family, but does that mean they should be able to get away with anything? i’ve fallen victim to keeping people around who served a singular purpose (ok, sometimes 2 (and i am not just talking about sex) just because they were so good at that. or because they were generally available. i need to get out of that sorry trap.

    and i finally, in 2011, will admit that very few non-gay men want to get to know you better as a friend. I have been a hold out on this, thinking that it is probably (anything is possible), but by and large…

    i have been called the queen of silver linings on occasion, so in that spirit: we will find the one, and we will know it’s the one and we wont feel like we are giving too much of our good, essential selves to garbage. I hope.

    • Ben, I think you’re really on to something with the idea of keeping people around because they are good at something(s). And I suppose I should have also said that some friendships are really transactional associations. And that’s ok… so long as both people are aware of the understanding. But some of this non-gay men hoopla is about a certain type of transaction, w/o a mutual understanding. One in the same source, I would argue…

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