Okay, so I switched back to Google Reader for my RSS feeds/reading pleasure. To be honest, I have been so busy, even at lunch and evenings I haven’t been able to keep up with most of the blogs I regularly read. I’m also behind on my book reading list and my writing. Downtime, i.e. a non working lunch or a quick stress break during the day, have been in very short supply lately. And at night. Well I often get home so late due to work or traffic, its typically eat, shower and bed. Maybe I can squeeze in a minute here or there on my iPhone for Twitter or Facebook. Last week a couple nights I even got to fall as sleep with my iPad in hand while reading a book! OK, you get it, just like the rest of us, I’m busy. Cry me a river. After going through, and thankfully coming out of, a reduction in days, in this economy I will take busy and do a happy dance. Anyway, back to Google Reader. I opened it up this morning on my iPad and saw some post for blogs I haven’t read in awhile. One post in particular caught my attention http://jodifur.com/2013/03/on-cutting-out-the-emotionally-expensive.html. I scanned through it and the comments and haven’t been able to get the post out of my mind. See over the last year, my friendships of varying levels, causal friends to an extraordinarily close confidant, have gone through a lot of changes.
It all started when I first came out of the closet regarding my life long battle with mild Depression, not so mild Anxiety, and ADHD. I had to greater and lesser degrees, hidden these issues most of my life and I finally reached out for help – medication and therapy. I talked about it openly and I blogged about it openly. I figured why not. I was the same person I always was and was making strides to make myself better and healthier. Besides we live in a Prozac Nation. Chances are the majority of the people you know have been on some sort of antidepressant or antianxiety medication at some point in their life. I wanted to battle the stigma, so I posted and posted. I only stopped during my reduction in days for fear it might hurt my job hunt. But I digress. So after the big coming out, the majority of my friends were very supportive. Strangers, acquaintances and friends were contacting me and telling me how much I helped them. Sadly there was also a big group of people that slowly but surely distanced themselves from me, as if I was some how contagious. Or worse, I had committed a heinous crime by talking about an illness that should be kept secret. A scarlet letter best hidden under a sweater. Few said anything directly but there was a very immediate withdraw by a significant number of people. I was hurt but not truly surprised by this.
Here is a quote from the article in case you haven’t clicked through to read the post (Which you should. Its an interesting post). “My sister likes the term “emotionally expensive” a lot and in the past year or so I have come to borrow it. To me, emotionally expensive means those people, that after you spend time with them, you can barely breathe, they suck all the air out of the room. They are all about them. They say “how are you?” and then three seconds in it is “and I” “and me” and “we,” not meaning you. Every single time you talk to them.” And then there was a comment from a Jenn that said. “Oh, energy vampires! Where you leave the conversation exhausted and – on a particularly bad day- carrying some of their crap around with you. So.Not.Worth.It.” This post and comment really got me thinking about my relationships.
More recently I have had three friendships, of varying degrees, come to a screeching halt and I couldn’t help but wonder if I had become an Energy Vampire. It’s been a crazy year. It took a while to find the right balance of Medications to handle the Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD. Though thankfully I’m in a very good place, minus the impact it is having on my running. I need to switch from mornings to nights, but need a change in weather first. Running is my biggest stress outlet and it is hard having that missing. Then we went through a year of a lot of uncertainly at work. We were loosing a major contract and everyone with a brain knew layoffs were coming, Thankfully I was just reduced and not termed, so I kept my benefits and some money coming in. But it was an incredibly stressful time, both emotionally and financially. To be completely honest the financial impact considering how long I was part-time – well, we are still in recovery mode. Which means it was a great time for my car to die and have to buy a new one! And while I am in a great place now in terms of the medications, there were a lot of ups and downs over the last year while we tried out different meds and doses for the right combination. And of course I have had the stress of launching a secondary career as a pro writer. There is a lot more, but some is just not appropriate for the blog and honestly that is enough complaining, especially considering I have a great life, wonderful wife, and amazing children. Those are the most important things.
So back to the friendships I have lost, and what about the quotes up above made me stop and think.
One was more of a social media friend/acquaintance. We are in the same industry (HR). We had a falling out at or shortly after a Conference. Anyways it escalated and a few months ago, we both told each other to take a hike. We defriended one another from Twitter, Facebook and each other’s blogs. Unfortunately we both forgot about Linkedin and I, at least, forgot to delete her from my contacts. As I said, I am both an HR Pro and a professional writer. So last month I decided to set up a newsletter for new book releases and giveaways. I used the mailing list site’s Google tool to upload my contacts. I had about 1200 and whittled them down to less than 600. Well, I missed a few including this person’s contact. So when she got my newsletter, she unsubscribed and filed a complaint in the unsubscribe link that I was stalking her. Which is hilarious considering it had been so long since either of us had any contact at all. But I was perturbed when I saw her complaint so I wrote her back explaining it was an error as I had no idea she was still in my contacts. But she can rest assured that her contact file has been deleted. OK I was ticked off enough at her accusation to call her a loon, but that was the extent of my response As I said earlier, we both forgot about Linkedin. So about a week later, my boss, the EVP of HR, gets a linkedin mail from this person, telling her all sorts of craziness about me, and asking if they could talk. Thankfully after 9+ years of us working together, she knows me well enough to disregard this nonsense and just sent it to me as an FYI. Yes, I have since defriended her on Linkedin as well. I’m not really sure what triggered this, but since then I have heard from several other people that she is a big bully and has done this type of thing to other people. I can’t see this as me being an emotional vampire of any sort as we really haven’t had much personal conversation over the years. But the post was still churning in my head so I wondered about the destruction of those other two friendships this year.
The next one was a friendship that also started out through social media but turned into an in real life friendship. I wouldn’t have called her one of my best friends or anything, but I certainly considered her a fairly good friend. Anyway one morning I sent her a Direct Message on twitter. A few hours latter I sent her an email asking if she got my DM (yeah I know I can be a patient SOB), since she never responded. She wrote back, I’m in a meeting and that was all she said. So later in the day I sent her another email asking her if everything was alright. She replied, is this about the DM, because I can’t drop everything because you send me a message. I replied no, I wouldn’t expect you to. Its about the fact we have had little communication lately. Typically only if I reach out to you and I get one word replies. She never answered that email. I sent her another one the following week asking whats going on. I even apologized thinking I had come off badly. I didn’t think so, but I had not been in a good place that week. Among a million other things that week that went wrong, it was also the the anniversary of my mom’s death. A great week I was not having, so possibly there was something in my written voice/tone that came off badly. Anyway I was willing to apologize if warranted or not. She responded to this one and said something like I was putting unreasonable expectations on her and she couldn’t be the person I wanted her to be in this friendship and to have a nice life. I was dumbfounded because I had no idea what she was talking about. I couldn’t recall any expectations or demands I put on her. I was at a loss. So I responded back. I wish you had told me something was wrong before so we could have talked it out, but clearly that wasn’t what you wanted or you didn’t care enough about our friendship to bother so best wishes to you as well. It’s funny because I hadn’t really thought about her until reading the post linked above. I simply disconnected our social networks and moved on. But now I have to wonder was I somehow being an energy vampire without knowing it. I don’t know. I do know that I had been there for her over the last few years when she was having various difficulties. I was there to listen and I was there to offer my 2 cents when I thought it was appropriate. And I was their to say, it will be OK. If I was being an emotional vampire with her, and I really don’t know. I do have to wonder about all the times it was all about her. What does that make her? Selfish? Just not a good friend in the first place…. I really don’t know the answer to either side of the question. I wish I knew what expectations I was supposedly putting on her. Not because I want to restore that friendship, but to know so if I was, how can I avoid that with other friendships.
The third case is different from the other two. I have know this person since we were 14, but over the last couple of years she became one of my closest confidants. Unlike the other the loss of this relationship has actually been fairly devastating. Over the last couple of years most of our relationship there was a lot more about her than me. Me helping her cope with her divorce and custody battle. Me finding out information about programs and schools in the area since one of her children is special needs. Helping her search for Real Estate down here. Talking about her own health issues. But as things started to come together for her, I started spiraling into my problems. Here I do believe at the end I was some sort of energy vampire, or at the very least we were in some sort of unhealthy codependent relationship. I wish I had a way to fix it. Not go back to the way we were, but something. Something healthier, non codependent. I don’t know. But I do miss our friendship terribly.
So while I don’t think I am an energy vampire, I wonder if in our darkest places we can all go there. Hopefully a healthy and true friend helps you through the hard times, and if it seems those rough times never end, they have a healthy conversation about it before shattering a friendship.
Update – I posted this to Facebook and their had been a fair amount of conversation their. Because of the privacy settings and the nature of Facebook that wasn’t completely open and was fleeting. I added a comment there that I wanted to integrate into the post. So here it is.
Oh no another “HR social media “guru” unfriended me on the big three after reading my latest post.http://www.coreyjf.com/2013/
If you recognized former friend #2 Popular blogger twitterer, I have nothing against her and didn’t end the friendship. I wish her nothing but the best and hope our mutual friends can choose to be friends with us both.
And for former Friend #3 if you recognize her, know I truly think the world of her. She is a good person with a kind heart. We were both in troubled times and it ended badly. For our mutual friends should you find it necessary to take sides, take hers. She is a good person and deserves to be treated as such.
Update #2 One of my friend commented and it has really stuck in my head. Part of her post was “I go back to the adage that some people come into your life for a reason, others a season, and some for a lifetime. We just don’t always know until they are gone.” I do believe this is very true. For the first one especially. #2 I can see but it does sadden me. As for #3 when I am finally past the mourning process, I hope I will see how that applies, but for now I am too wrapped up in the pain to see it. Someday maybe