Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Other Side of the Story

This is a sequel to BFF: A History. After I painted such a dismal picture of my treatment at the hands of so-called "friends", I feel the need to confess my own bad friend sins.

I started young. When I was between four and six years old, I used to play with the girl next door who was a year older than me. Because of that age difference, my mother believed me every time I said "But she told me to do it!". So the older girl took all the heat for our mischief.

As often as not, I masterminded the troublemaking. Like putting our used chewing gum into my mother's box of powdered laundry soap. Aren't kids great?

In grade school, the girl who lived five doors down from me had everything I envied: a proper dad, an older sister, a dog, a cat who bore litters of kittens, a room decorated in a Holly Hobby theme, and the best sticker collection ever. I obnoxiously invited myself over much too often so that I could cuddle the kittens, and then I pressured her into trading all her best stickers away, until she refused to trade with me anymore.

I had a girlfriend through high school and university upon whom I projected all my own insecurities. Her behaviour drove me crazy, but that was because it reflected the worst of my own self. We went out for lunch at a restaurant one day after I'd read a few pop psychology paperbacks, and was into speaking my mind. I tactlessly dumped all my criticisms out on the table, until she was crying into her plate.

Later we tried to mend our relationship, after I admitted that I'd been an ass, but it was never the same. I made another lunch date with her, and then forgot about it and stood her up. I blame my forgetfulness on the fever I was running that day. But that's not a good enough excuse. I truly regret having ruined that relationship, because she's a very bright, creative, and unique woman. My loss.

Presently, I can be a bad friend in the following ways:

I'm not a fan of the telephone, so I don't call my friends often enough, nor do I reliably accept their calls.

I have a profound distaste for travel, so I have never visted my friends in BC despite countless invitations to do so. One girlfriend has offered to pay half my air fare, and I still haven't gone.

I'm moody, so sometimes when I do get together with friends, I'm kind of a downer, or at least very quiet. Other times, I'm brilliant and hilarious! Who wants to flip the coin?

Due to some issues with auto-immune function I'll go through phases when I'm very reluctant to plan outings, or I'll cancel plans because of not feeling well. Technically that's not my fault, but it does make me unreliable, which is a bad quality in a friend.

Have you ever been a bad friend?


Anonymous said...

Wow you made someone cry in a restaurant You are vicious. How unmerciful can you get?

Did you hand them a knife and suggest they slit their wrists? "No not that way. That's the cry for help way. Slash upwards. God! You're so worthless!"

Can I be your friend?

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I don't think there is a person in this world that can look back and say 100% of the time they were the best friend/person that they could have been. We all make mistakes or bad judgements due to age/maturity/illness/forgetfulness or whatever. The goal is to try to be better and if possible to make ammends for any wrongs you may have done. So in short Yes I have been a bad friend at times, I have also been a really good friend at times :)

Nilsa S. said...

Anyone who says they haven't been a bad friend is a big fat liar! We've all been there. The worst thing I can remember doing is telling a friend from college I was disappointed in her professional choices. Who the hell am I to make a judgment like that? It forever changed our friendship. Now she's a VP in that company and I'm still an ass.

Anonymous said...

My best friend has said that I have been a bad friend in regards to giving him important information about women. His first girlfriend had a history that he did not know about, but I did and he was upset that I didn't tell him the history before he started going out with her. He did ask me for details, but I didn't want to betray anybody's trust. Maybe I should have. She was a tramp and eventually left him for another woman but didn't have the guts to tell him why she was leaving him. And then years later I tried to set him up with a woman and he got upset that I neglected to mention her weight. Well, if it isn't the fat pot calling the fat kettle black.

I'm sure you can use that paragraph to find some reason for me to be a bad friend. And the fact that I routinely sneak sugar packets and other small pieces of garbage into the purses of my female friends.

I've probably done some other bad stuff. Can't really remember anything specific though.

PixieVonAzia said...

No one is a perfect friend. I've had two sucky friends who are gas in the wind now :D

I know I'm a bad sister so I know I've not been such a good friend.

jameil1922 said...

everyone's unreliable to a point. you take the good you take the bad you take them both and then you have the facts of life... have you seen that show before? i wish someone would offer me 1/2 price airfare tho!!

Jenski said...

It is easy for life to get in the way of friendship. The childhood stuff is just kids being kids. These days, phones are totally overrated. Who needs phones when you have blogs, email, facebook, etc.? I've definitely made a more conscious effort to contact people - usually phone calls when I walk home.

My best friend from middle school on and I have had some rocky times! We always manage to make amends just in the nick of time and can still tell each other anything.

Aurora said...

I really appreciated these stories. I'm glad you're human like the rest of us.

I only have to look in my journal for evidence of cringe-making behaviour on my part. It doesn't come to mind easily because I've worked hard at forgetting those moments!

Anonymous said...

I think we've all been bad friends at one time or another. Like me right now, I promised to go see my friends newborn and I still haven't. She's 3 months now. By time I see that kid she'll be off to college.

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: I have a mean streak a mile wide. You'd better stay on my good side.

Ron: That's a fair assessment. I like to think I've been a good friend more than a bad friend.

Nilsa S.: Yikes. That kind of thing can go wrong either way - if it didn't work out, then you might have been able to say "I told you so", but that still wouldn't have done your friendship any good. That's kind of like what I laid on my high school friend. And I thought that I was doing her a favour!

Whatigotsofar: That doesn't sound too bad. Everyone has to take responsibility for their own choice of mate. There's a good chance that he wouldn't have taken your warning seriously if he really liked her at first.
And sneaking sugar packets into womens' purses?
You are indeed a multi-faceted fellow.

Pixie Von Azia: "gas in the wind" I love it! The perfect combination of poetry and crudeness. I'll be stealing that. ;-)

Jameil: Maybe you could go visit my friend in BC! Just say you're me. She'll never know the difference.

(LC, if you're reading, no offense... ;-)

Jenski: I've found that my best relationships are ones that have survived at least one fight. I've also had some near friend-breakups, and these are my most valued companions now.

Aurora: Yes, it's always easier to remember the stories where the other person was the bad guy. I'm sure it's healthier not to dwell on it. Just learn the lessons and move on.

1218blog: Oh dear! Oh well. They're pretty much in a larval stage for the first couple of months anyway. They open their eyes just long enough to nurse, and then they're off to snoozeland again.

Aric Blue said...

I have been a much better friend than the friends I've had over the years. See, now you've inspired me to post a blog abou tit!(after I finish my Austin story)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm like you: I have to be in the mood for something to want to do it. Making myself get in the mood rarely works; I have to at least be somewhat looking forward to it beforehand. I've learned to accept my own ebbs and flows. Generally, it doesn't affect socializing.

As for friends, they come and go. I reconnected with a woman I'd befriended when we were teenagers after not hearing from her for 15 years, and she is now my only connection to anything remotely childhood. Weird, in one way; very much the story of my life, in another.

Tink said...

I'm with Warped. I don't think any of us can say that we've been a good friend 100% of the time. Sometimes I've given too much and been screwed over. Sometimes I've given too little, taken too much even, and screwed over the people who loved me.

Sparkling Red said...

Aric Blue: Cool! I love being inspirational. I'll look forward to reading your post. :-)

Keera: I agree with you about the ebbs and flows. If I try to go against my own tides, I just end up getting extremely frustrated and grumpy.
It's neat that you reconnected with a friend from your past. I wonder where all the friends I've lost touch with are now...

Tink: True. I guess it's an inevitable part of the human condition. Hopefully we get better at it as we get older and wiser. ;-)

Kelly O said...

We are all works in progress, eh?

savia said...

I found you through Schmutzie and I'm glad I did. Great post.

I'm pretty similar - bad at picking up the phone, bad at answering the phone, bad at going through phases where I just hunker down in my house and avoid the world altogether.

But I'm always there if they really need me and go out of my way to help others, so I figure it all evens out, you know?

Sparkling Red said...

Kelly O: Very true. :-)

Savia: Thanks! I'm glad you found me too. :-)
We are similar. I didn't write about the ways in which I'm a good friend, but I'm very loyal and I don't let my friends down when I know they really need me. In the end, it does even out.

Aric Blue said...

At my current pace you can look for it somewhere in 2012.