I have a realtively new friend here, we get along quite well, but sometimes she has the ability to irritate the living crap out of me. Interestingly though this is not due to a clash in personalities as it is in 99% of the cases. I am generally a very patient person who rarely fights with people and even people that are very different from me, once they are my friends, almost never get on my nerves even if we go on vacation together (I can't say it's also true the other way around, who knows, but you get the idea). This case is different, however, and I realized that the fundamental problem lies in the inability she has to see things from a different perspective than her own combined with a child-like naivete, something I have never encountered in a friend before, and occasionally she can drive me up the wall. Let me elaborate.
The initial irritation, though not the one that made me need to vent about it, starts with the fact that she needs a constant validation despite the fact that she was an only child in an extremely loving family and has always had all the validation and cuddles and kind words she's ever wanted. She will constantly ask me "so, how would you evaluate this friendship? Do you like spending time with me? Are you just saying that because I ask you? Now that we took this trip, do you think our friendship is better, or stayed the same? Why do you think that? What makes you think that we're closer now? Can I give you a cuddle? Why don't you ever spontaneously give me a cuddle? On a scale of one to ten, where would you rank this friendship?" Yes, we are both 24 and have known each other for nine months, no she is not a closeted lesbian with a crush on me she is in fact in a loving relationship with a man. I give her the answers she wants and I do find the questions slightly irritating especially since they are pretty much weekly, but I can let them pass.
But then something really got under my skin.
We were out one night and for some reason we started talking about our friends growing up. It came out that I was the bodyguard for a few of my friends. It came out that we had a teenage support system, as we all had different problems so we could support one another and because our parents would never understand, they'd freak out and pull us out of school and stick us in an institution with group therapy (as they threatened many times, ew) because they wouldn't understand that these things happen and pass with teenagedom. Two of my friends began their battle with anorexia at age 12. Suicidal thoughts and half-hearted attempts, severe depression, bulimia, overexercising, parents who occasionally became violent and/or abusive, not seeing a parent for eight years and then running into them on the street, possible pregnancy and heartbreak, getting dumped after losing your virginity and cheating, self harm and cutting, across the approximately ten of us we saw all of this between the ages of 12 and 17. It was spread out, the afflicted would call one of the others to know they had support, if need be they'd move in with that person for a little while until the bad part past. Our love for each other kept the bonds and pacts were formed (Every time you cut yourself, I'll throw up my meals for the day!) and we stopped our self harm out of love for our friend we didn't want to see harmed, and the episodes came and went on the tides of teenage hormones.
It's life as a teenager, but she had never lived it, hearing that, she was almost in tears. "I just want to go back in time and hug 13-year old you! Oh that's just terrible! Admit it, you were far too young to deal with all of that! Admit it! You were TOO YOUNG! Admit you would have much preferred to NOT have to have gone through all that!"
Undertone: "Admit you would have preferred to have had my childhood".
That was strike one. No, fuck you, I'm not going to admit that "I was too young". First of all, my life made me who I am today. Secondly, I always had a good and cushy life. I had food, I went to great schools, I had two parents that loved me even if they didn't live together, I got to go on vacation to the US, to India, to Spain. I was allowed to express myself and dress the way I wanted and make my own mistakes. You want me to feel sorry for myself?
To this she rolled her eyes, which to me was strike two. Undertone: "Yea, well, apart from all that, your childhood sucked".
You think I take this stuff for granted?! Do you have any idea how lucky we both are? Do you want to know what's really "too young" at age 13?
Being forced into marriage and being a mother
Having already lost your virginity for the past 8 years
To be beaten every day
Having lost one or both your parents
Seeing the death and destruction of war
Being forced to commit those acts as a child soldier
Having acid thrown in your face and told you are unclean and unworthy
Having to work as a prostitute
Having your breasts ironed so that no man would want to rape you
Having to raise your siblings and not eat to give them food
To be always hungry
To be always thirsty
To not have access to health care of any kind
And you think that I'm just going to ignore all of that, ignore the conditions in which the majority of children in the world live in, and cry about having to deal with a bit of depression and eating disorders? How selfish, how self-centered, how obtuse is that? No, I don't cry about having lived a life that was not in a little pink bubble floating over the real world. I'm glad, because it means that at that age I knew how to talk someone off a ledge, I knew how to keep my head in a crisis and find the way out of it. If something bad happens to me I don't panic, I'm logical and pragmatic to a fault, and I don't think that there is anything remotely wrong with that.
To that she thought, and then she realized hey, in all of those things you listed, were you affected by any of them? Well yea, obviously, we all were.
"Which ones? What did you feel? What did you go through? Don't tell me it's none of my business, I'm offended by that! You have to tell me! It's not that I'm just curious, it's not that I want to pity you. It's about intimacy, it's part of friendship, and I want you to tell me everything. So when are you going to tell me your life story? When are you going to tell me your life story? When are you going to tell me your life story? You know I haven't forgotten, you still owe me your life story you know!"
That was strike three, and I fucking lost it.
Who the fuck do you think you are? What are we married that you come to me talking about intimacy? I don't have any demons to get off my chest, I am perfectly happy and content, so it's not for me that she wants this information (and she admitted as much), it's purely to satisfy her own curiosity. It's not that there's anything that I'm ashamed of, but these are things that come up in conversation. If you come to me and say "oh my I have a friend that is going through this or the other", I might say "well, as someone who has been through that, let me give you some advice". But I'm definitely not going to fucking sit down and say right, here's every hard time I've had since I was 10, nor to you have any right to demand that of me.
It's like I come up to you and ask you about whether or not you felt shame or exhilaration the first time you masturbated. It's nothing to be embarassed about and I would think it silly if you felt ashamed, but it's not information that I would expect you to just volunteer without it coming up in conversation, and I most certainly wouldn't demand that information as a fucking condition of our friendship! I'm not going to be offended unless you tell me every little detail about the first time you discovered your clit, and say that the friendship is actually going backwards a little bit because you don't feel like sitting down out of the blue and going into it!
I was profoundly irritated, and remained so for about a week. I'm still friends with her, although I am trying really hard to make her see outside her little bubble. She grew up in a very sheltered life and, giving where she grew up, it is already amazing that she is not a complete racist and catholic nutjob. There is hope for her yet so I will be patient with these epsiodes, even though they can occasionally make me irritated beyond belief.
Given my last story about profound irritation, I guess my weakness is a bona fide lack of perspective, or not being able to think about something in any way other than a completely self-centered one, a lack of logic.
What do you think? Am I exaggerating, or excessively cold? I can't even tell anymore.