Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Friendship, values and existentialism.

I'm going through an odd array of sentiments. A good friend of mine left her partner. Said partner moved out last week. I was then invited over for dinner and asked if I minded if New Person would be there. I asked why they would be, and if they already lived there (jokingly) and was informed they already did. I found this really difficult to process.

For clarity sake, my friend was in an unhealthy decade-long relationship that she needed to leave. I supported her on this, early on. I've voiced to her that I'm happy she’s found joy and support with someone new, I just find it fast and am having difficulty following her. There seems to be a lot of clouded history with New Person, and I guess I was naive about possible infidelity as well as the intentions involved.

This is her life, she’s going to do what she’s going to do.

But this friend, whom I love, has this way of over-explaining herself in a way that usually makes it seem like she’s actually trying to convince herself of something. And in our exchange, I got that sense.

After discussing our interaction with a mutual friend, it just brought up a lot of philosophical quandaries about friendship.

So much of how we react to people, and the world around us is about our own value system, and our own issues.

For example, I'm someone who spends a lot of time alone, happily. I'm independent. I've spent a significant portion of my life reading philosophy texts, and exploring the existential questions I cross. As someone who is often depressed, I've also learned to look inward, and to self-sooth. I've always been drawn to strong, capable women. I'm attracted to women who can fend for themselves, and get things done. I value this. I want to reproduce and promote that in my life. My life can be painful. The world is often hostile. And I stand alone often. But I'm alive, and I keep going, and I'm stronger than I give myself credit for.

So if this is where I come from, if this is part of my value system, can it explain my disappointment in a friend jumping from one relationship to the next? I think part of my disappointment is that I would have liked to see her seize this opportunity to face herself.

I understand that personal growth can happen while in a relationship. But I guess my experiences really bias me, and I feel being alone, and solitude are the only route to deeper connection to the self. Especially if someone struggles with listening to themselves and putting themselves first, which has been an issue for my friend, and which was part of the dissolution of her partnership.

Honey, you’re saying you need to put yourself first. You’re saying you lost yourself completely. You’re saying you sacrificed yourself, and what you wanted, constantly. Constant capitulation. How can you re-set when you’re already part of something else?

At this point, my exploring how I feel and what I think of the situation has nothing to do with my friend. This isn't about my trying to work-out what to say to her. I'm not trying to convince her of anything. I don’t think there’s any value in trying to explore it with her, since she’s already going through a lot. She’s made her choices.

What I'm doing here is just talking-around what’s going on because her revelation upset me, and I want to properly understand why.

Maybe the disappointment comes in her seemingly being unable to stand on her own.

Being alone can be lonely. I know this better than anyone. But god damn am I stronger for it. And yes, there’s disappointment in her not taking stock, but I also wanted that for her as an opportunity, not just as a pause.

It seems I value self-reflection and personal growth. And it seems I define that as being an individualistic achievement.

At the end of the day, she goes home to a bed with a warm body in it. I go home, and I'm alone. And I'm sure to many that sounds sad. But today, that’s not what I feel. I feel proud. I'm able to take care of myself. I'm able to live my life without a partner. I'm able to be alone and feel deep, dark things, and they don’t end me.

No doubt I'm going to talk-through this issue with the friends who know us both. Other opinions will no doubt shine light on what I feel and why.

I want to reiterate that my messages to her made it clear I care for her and support her in whatever she does, and that I want her to be happy. I was honest though, and said I was uncomfortable and shocked by the revelation, and that I'm confused about how I feel. I want her to live her life and be happy and proud. 

But I did have a reaction, and I do feel, gross about the situation. I have to be honest with myself, and with her. I find it odd New Person lives with her already, and I find it odd that I was told so nonchalantly after the fact.

I guess I'll do my best to try and understand. It might take a while to process.

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