The Girl with Balls of Steel

6.40am – that’s better! That means these really are morning pages. SLAM DUNK! Not mid-morning pages, or force-myself-afternoon pages. Yippie! A small victory but a victory nonetheless.

Woke with a slightly strange feeling. A friend is coming over this morning and I feel I should almost be rehearsing what to say. It’s a bit of a strange situation, a friendship that’s always been quite tense and the other night I decided to just throw it out there – I told her to please chill out and feel secure with me, I want to get to know the real her.

As I don’t know who might end up reading this blog, let’s call this friend the rather mean nickname I had for her: Frenemy. Never to her face, and I don’t think I ever referred to her that way around other people at the time, it was more just something I thought to myself as the term seemed to fit at the time.  For the record, it doesn’t fit anymore, she’s a real friend.

I can’t remember any tension the first couple times we met. Perhaps she felt a little forced, like she was very keen to impress, but not in a tense or uncomfortable way, and my overall impression was that she was a bundle of sunny energy and I genuinely liked her, even to the point where I couldn’t have enough of her. Not past tense, I genuinely like her still. Oh, I can define the feeling I woke up with now! I feel really sorry for her. I feel bad for her, and that’s why I feel I should really think over what to say and how to say it. And if I really look inward, I feel sorry for her mixed with guilt as I am the reason she might feel bad.

So. Over the years, our friendship has been…

*** oh bugger, now B’s out of the shower and walking around in his underwear, Christ he’s one tasty man beast ***

…strained and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was or where it came from. Frenemy always seemed to have a huge need to elevate herself, her importance, seniority at work, salary, title, or whatever status indicator it might have been. First it confused me, I really didn’t understand why, and then it just got under my skin, became an irritant. And because I felt that way, I think it brought out almost the same in me. To be fair, I think we brought it out in each other, I just don’t know how it started – it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

Instead of feeling the way you should after seeing a good friend, happy and relaxed, I would come away after spending time with Frenemy feeling unsettled and on edge.

And so the other day, we met up for breakfast. Remember, I truly do like and care for the girl, and no matter how nice it was to see her – it was lovely, in fact – but there it was, that little tension and feeling of not quite getting through to each other. Like some defence wall is always between us, and we’re trying to communicate by shouting to the other side, where in fact we both probably have someone who truly is a friend.

I decided to break the ice, or at least start to melt some of it. When she e-mailed, I replied and let it all out – why is it like this, needn’t be, I want to get to know the real you. First I thought I might have just really upset her, despite underlining that I think she’s wonderful, but the next morning there was a reply. Not a long one, more short and to the point but it was the best response I could have hoped for and showed me that yes, this is a friend worth fighting for.

She told me that when we first worked together, I’d come out with some ill thought of comments about her position and as a result she felt from that point that she needed to be competitive with me, seek approval almost, really exaggerate things to lift herself. And it did get like that, come to think of it – there were conversations we had where I’d come away and think WTF was that all about, why on earth did I need to know that… Anyway, she ended the e-mail with how she really likes me too, just doesn’t feel like I look down on what she does. That took balls. If she has been feeling I look down on her, it takes a very strong person to tell the person you think looks down on you that yes, this is how I feel and I don’t like it. Kudos to her.

To cut a long-ish story short, I responded saying sorry for clumsy comments, I’ve never looked down on her (the opposite in fact) and I love her to bits. I do. Then she came back with Big Balls Manouver #2: texted me to say she likes me a lot and how about we talk it out in person. Once again, kudos to her. She is coming over this morning, and I have to say I am dreading it a little. Not because I think it’ll be uncomfortable, but because I can sometimes be too honest, too direct – hey, that’s what created this situation in the first place! – and Frenemy is in a vulnerable situation now. She has admitted she does do this, which took a lot of courage to do – admitting to the person you’re trying to prove yourself to that this is what you’re doing. Of course, I am the bad guy in this, but she made herself very vulnerable and I can’t say enough times how that took a lot of guts.

So. I hope I can find the right words to really show Frenemy that she has a real friend in me, that I love her, that I want good things for her and most of all want to lift her up, not push down, so she can be secure with me and throw away this need to compete and just be herself. I honestly do think that our friendship could be really great once that stuff goes. Might be hard to suddenly erase something like that, just psychologically speaking, after all it’s been there almost from the very beginning.

We shall see. Timer’s beeped and I am gasping for a coffee!


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