Problematic People

And why you never want to stoop to their level.

People suck. Well, some suck more than others. And some have suckiness thrust upon them… usually by parents who spoil them rotten. The point is, there is always going to be someone out there who annoys the piss out of you.

Take S, a certain acquaintance who is outstandingly narcissistic and parasitic. S uses people I care about, draining them of their energies to the point where I’ve seen them neglect their own needs. is clingy. Suffocating. S is the bane of my existence.

Back in the day, after a certain amount of time spent dealing with S and feeling like the situation was only growing more intolerable, I decided enough was enough! No more Miss-Nice-Guy; I’d beat S at their own game. I’d be the one getting what I wanted all the time… damn the consequences. I started manipulating my friends, I made snide remarks behind S’ back, and I started to clandestinely exclude S from social get-togethers.  I was finally going to make myself feel better by treating S exactly as was warranted.

It worked great! … So great that I ended up alienating my friends and being viewed for a time as a cold-hearted she-dog. For all I know, there are still some who view me as such… and really, there is no one to blame for that but myself.

Oh sure, I could make excuses about immaturity and bad advice solicited from others, but to do so would be self-deceiving. In short, because I took the low road (even though I mistakenly believed I had the moral high ground), I wound up becoming someone I didn’t like and… surprise! Not many other people liked the new me either.

Thankfully, I did manage to salvage my self-respect and restore my good name, but only after leaving the S debacle alone. Full stop. At the time it felt like “giving up.” Now I realize it was sanity.

Did I ever make peace with what I had done? I’m attempting to, chiefly by writing this blog post.

People like S will always be in my life. Whether within my own family, my workplace, or other activities in which I participate. However, being the sadder, but wiser, girl I am, I now recognize that the best  course of action is to simply walk away from these people and not let petty grievances drag me down. And, if I find myself in a position where I can’t leave, clapping my hands over my ears and singing lalala  is a feasible Plan B.

Unbecoming behavior from one whom we expect to be unbecoming is, for better or worse, acceptable. Unbecoming behavior from one whom people respect and admire is shocking, if not horrifying, to behold.

If, however, some sort of confrontation does become necessary between you and your S, be direct. As a communications professional, I can tell you that “I statements” do work much better than “you-centric” finger wagging. Keep calm; don’t let your voice rise with your temper. Above all, don’t knock yourself out while knocking your head against a brick wall…. if you’re not getting through, there may come a time when you simply have to grin (with clenched teeth) and bare it. Ah, adulthood.

That said, here is today’s parting metaphor: a gnat in the ear is not worth a stinging cheek when you strike yourself while trying to rid yourself of a pest.

Parallel Lines

Is there anyone you’re drifting away from?

I looked at the randomly-generated question and felt a familiar weight in my stomach (you know, the one that all the butterflies settle on when they get tired of flapping about). I had been hoping for something sillier from this particular ask meme, but there it was… time to be serious.

I pondered, drumming my fingers against the desk. Certainly, as someone who has moved from place to place, there are people I once knew and whom I have since never spoken to again. Physical distance often causes emotional distance; out of sight and out of mind. And, although there are always social media platforms willing to help me track down play-pals of yesteryear… there are some people from whom I prefer to remain parted. And of course, there are a good handful of people whom I can safely say don’t want me anywhere near their lives as well.

We grow-up; we don’t change, I think, we just simply grow into ourselves. And sometimes in the course of growing up we realize that the people we knew when we were 13 are not the people we want to know at 28.

However, I have (as I’m sure many people do) certain acquaintances with whom I do not wish to be separated… even though it tends to take almost all of the effort on my part to persevere the relationship.

These are the titular “parallel lines.”

When I was in 6th grade, my geometry teacher joked that parallel lines were miserable because “no matter how close they are, they will never get together.”

As my readers doubtless have figured out, I have been blessed with some incredible friends. And within this group, I still count a few unique individuals with whom I rarely speak… and it is even rarer that I see them.

These are individuals whom, when I first knew them, were very close to me; I felt an affinity towards them and they to me (I think; I have eye-witness accounts to support this theory). There were many precious instances, in fact, when they and I were inseparable. We not only enjoyed each others’ company, but shared an understanding of the silence between words; we understood each other. It was intimate, at times frightening… and perhaps it was even a little delusional (a shared delusion, regardless).

However, in the course of growing up and moving away from the places where these friendships were formed, separations outnumber the reunions. Yet whenever I see these old friends again, our brief time together is joyous; in the space of 30 minutes we somehow manage  to compress the years apart to nothing.

But after these reunions? The silence returns. And I find myself questioning whether the relationships are worth struggling to keep. I dread the occasion when I will next see them and discover a void where once conversation flowed like a mountain stream. I do not want to thirst after their company for the rest of my life but, thus far, I do.

So then, what is the solution? Do I shrug my shoulders and murmur something about “ships in the night?” Do I let them disappear over the horizon towards new lands and take an ax to the ship-to-ship radio? Or is it better to stay my course, as a little parallel line to these friends, and simply cherish the closeness I feel to them, even if the “coming together” is, logically, never to occur?

The math, as before, remains a mystery…