I’m sure everyone’s image of themselves is very different to the reality.
I like to think I’m laidback. I’m probably annoyingly laissez-faire. I like to think I get on with most people. I’m probably over-eager and a little like a Labrador puppy (friends with everyone but just as likely to puke in your lap as fall asleep on your feet). I like to think that I have my amusing moments. My sarcasm is probably hurtful and overbearing.
And it’s as I reflect on these flaws in my personality that I realise, with sadness, that my defects have caused me to lose more than one friend in the last few months.
The most obvious of these is Sir Charmsalot. A guy who I used to speak to every day without fail.The one person I could count on for company (annoying as it was sometimes). My closest friend here. Disappeared off the face of the earth.
We had a stand-up row about 3 months ago, late one night, after some wine had been consumed. He accused me of being a bad friend. He accused me of not caring. He accused me of being mean. He accused me of a lot of things. He told me that he had wanted to break our friendship off for months but felt guilty and so decided to give me one more chance.
Eventually I gave up. I stopped arguing. I capitulated. I stopped instigating conversations and meetings. Everything was quiet in return. Days turned into weeks into months. Nothing.
I’ve tried to move on with things (work has been helping in this respect) but it still hurts. It hurts to think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Something that someone close to me hates so much, he’d rather give up on a friendship than talk to me about.
And yet I notice that, on a list of “people I need to buy a Christmas present for”, his name isn’t there. I think that hurts me the most.
I texted a girlfriend this afternoon.
“Is everything ok?”
…came the reply.
“Ok, no reason. It’s just we haven’t spoken in an age. And I notice I’ve been defriended on facebook! Just wanted to make sure I hadn’t done something to upset you.”
“I didn’t appreciate the way you treated me last time we met. I’m not angry, I just want a little space”.
My confusion grows. What happened last time we met? Did I inadvertently say something, do something. I think back. It was raining. I was cold. I’d just left a house party and said we’d meet at the pub for a quick drink. I was hungover to the back teeth. She bought me a drink. It rained some more. We moved under a sheltered group of stairs. We stood, we chatted for a while. I nursed my pint. It got to 12 ish. “Time to go home”, says I. We said a brief goodbye and I walked home. I shuffled down the hill. I collapsed into bed, not even bothering to take off my make up.
As I run through the night in my head I try and figure out what might have gone wrong. Was it because I didn’t stay out as late as I normally do? Was it because some other people joined us for a bit? Was it because I didn’t (couldn’t) finish my drink? Was it because I didn’t buy her a drink back? All these questions seem stupid. We couldn’t fall out over such small things, could we?
And maybe this is the problem. Maybe what I see as a “small problem” isn’t. Maybe when I’m feeling a bit rubbish, my grumpiness is actually meanness. Maybe my sarcasm is actually thinly-veiled bitchiness.
This self-examination doesn’t come easily to me and it certainly isn’t comfortable.
I don’t like making people sad, or angry, or disappointed. I don’t like the feeling that I’ve let someone down. I don’t like the thought that I’ve been mean to someone (although, frankly, there are some people out there who deserve all the scorn I can heap on them) and I certainly don’t like not being able to talk to my friends.
So where do I go from here?