Saturday, May 23, 2015

Haters be Hatin'

I need to ask you guys if this is normal: do your friends occasionally turn nasty on you and try to cut you down?  Not major attacks that anyone else would necessarily notice, just little digs and pokes that sting and bruise more as they accumulate.

I don't recall this happening a few years ago, when I was a depressed mess.  In a nutshell, for those who haven't heard the sob story, I was clinically depressed for years before being properly diagnosed.  My symptoms were mainly physical, such as feeling like I had lead weights strapped to my wrists and ankles, to the point that just walking down a hallway was a major challenge.  I needed so much sleep that all I could manage was to work and go home with occasional, very minimal socializing.  I was a mess for years.  While this was going on, my friends were very kind and accommodating to me.

I was tested for Lyme disease, mono, West Nile virus, etc.  Three years ago, after a trip to the hospital emergency room where I even managed to stump the doctors there, I was finally diagnosed by my own step-dad (thanks doctor dad!) and started on a low dose of medication to balance my brain chemicals.  Ever since then I've been on a gradual path of improvement.  I still need more sleep than the average Joey, but it's been over a year since I had my last major panic attack or felt that my feet weighed 20 lbs. each.  I'll always have a bit of a tendency towards low dopamine, which is exacerbated by stress, but it's a lot easier to manage than many other chronic conditions.

Back to today.  Now that I'm no longer a mess, I've noticed that a few of my girlfriends aren't so uniformly sweet with me.  In fact, they seem to feel that I need to be put in my place.  In the past couple of months, I've been verbally slapped down with the following read-between-the-lines messages:
"Yeah, right, get over yourself, you're not that funny."
"Yeah, right, get over yourself, you're not that pretty."
"Yeah, right, get over yourself, you're not that clever."

I don't think I'm being overly sensitive.  I'm a teaser.  I love to tease people.  I know what teasing feels like.  It's done with a smile, and a generous pillow of underlying affection.  These little shivs I'm on the receiving end of don't have any pillow of anything under them.  They just feel mean.

I'll give you an example.  At a glance, I look freakishly young for my age.  I have a big head relative to my body, which is one of the physical cues that people look at when determining age, and a bit of a baby face.  However, if you get up close I'm clearly showing signs of being 42.  I have laugh lines around my eyes, grey in my hair, and I joke that if I'm ever carded I could just show my knees for I.D.

I was fooling around on the Microsoft site that guesses your age from a photo.  I tried a couple of selfie photos and they both came back with mid-30s ages.  I was like "Nah, I can do better than that." Thinking about it analytically, I figured that they probably use relative eyeball size in their algorithm.  My eyeglasses shrink my eye size due to my prescription, so I took a bare-faced selfie and tried that one.  Despite the little laugh lines and grey in my bangs, it told me that I looked 19 years old.  So of course I laughed, fist-pumped, and danced around a bit, but it was more that I had fooled their software than truly believing that I look 19.  (I don't.)

I was flipping through some photos on my phone to show something to one of my girlfriends, and the "19" selfie came up.  She said something about it, I forget what, maybe "Oh, that's a nice picture of you."  So I blurted something about the website guessing my age as 19, just to laugh about it, and she immediately kind of raised her eyebrows and said with a bit of a curled lip, "Well, you don't look 19."

Now, this woman is, herself, gorgeous.  She's a couple of years older than me, and she's an absolute stunner.  Tall, leggy, long blond hair, slim, and fashionable.  She could outshine me in a beauty contest any day of the week, and that's fine by me.  I'm not trying to compete with her.  She's in a different category anyway.  If we happened to both be single and out trying to pick up guys, she would be attracting a different crowd than me.  Guys who like girls who look like Barbie would be going for her.  Guys who like the petite look with glasses would be chasing after me.  So it's all good, right?  When she told me a story a few months ago about a man in a store line-up who said to her "I've been very good this year.  I hope I wake up and find you under my tree on Christmas morning," I laughed with her about it and was happy for her.  Why can't she do the same for me?

I could give a bunch of other recent examples, with other people, but you get the picture.  So, what the hell is going on?  Is this normal, and people were just handling me with kid gloves before because I was delicate and sensitive?  Or am I right in feeling that that this is wrong?


PhilipH said...

What's normal, Sparky?

Jean Paul Sartre wrote a play called 'No Exit' and in it one character says that "Hell is other people", and personally I think this is not too far-fetched.

Perhaps snide remarks are more 'female' oriented, if you know what I mean. Cattiness is usually a female trait, is it not?

Perhaps it also applies to males but I reckon they'd be a bit 'gay' - or effeminate.

Better stop; getting into dodgy areas!

I had no idea of your poor state of health and depression is a severely debilitating illness of course. So glad that you seem to be feeling somewhat better of late and trust that you continue on an upward curve.

Best wishes, Phil

Sparkling Red said...

I am definitely growing more misanthropic with every passing day. And yes, I do believe that women are terrible for cattiness. I see it often at work, where I am in a position to mediate between the "cats". I just haven't felt it to be directed at myself in a long time. It feels a bit like being back in middle school. :-p

Thanks for your good wishes! I appreciate every blessed day of good health that is granted to me. :-)

Snowbrush said...

I’m out of my league on this one because men aren’t known for treating one another this way. I guess you could call people on their snide comments, by saying that you were hurt by them, or asking what they meant by them. Perhaps, doing so would force something different to happen.

I’ve read of women who marry, get fat, lose weight, look gorgeous, and are divorced by husbands whom feel intimidated by their rediscovered beauty, health, and energy. Maybe your friends wanted to give—and knew what they had to give—when you were depressed, but now that you’re no longer among the walking, their caregiver role in your life has changed, and they’re having trouble finding a new way to relate. In their old role, they could feel giving and superior, but now their own feelings of inadequacy have come to the fore. In other words, they used to could focus on your problems; now you have left them to focus on their own, and they’re not grateful for it.

I’m astounded that it took so long to diagnose something so prevalent and obvious as depression. If I may share a bit of my own sad story. I’ve been depressed for years, and now it’s getting much worse due to age, pain, and disability. I’m taking Cymbalta, primarily for chronic pain, but it’s also an antidepressant, in my case not a very good one. So, what do I do? I’ve had good luck with Zoloft, but Zoloft doesn’t help with pain, so I feel stuck with the Cymbalta, a drug that makes me feel wired but not does little for my depression. The only thing that’s keeping me out of the abyss are narcotics, but relying on narcotics for mood-control is like relying on liquor. There is no longer any difference between sunny days and cloudy ones in my life. Much of the times, it’s all pain and sadness, and I’m clear that I probably wouldn’t choose to stay alive without Peggy to live for.

Snowbrush said...

Philip, I enjoyed your comment, which reflected my own about this being more of a problem for women. As for ”Hell is other people,” I think it’s also true that, “Hell is being alone.” Otherwise, many of us wouldn’t blog because what is blogging but a controlled way of relating to others?

Sparkling Red said...

Snowbrush, as always I love how deeply you think things through. You are a very insightful guy.

I don't know much about head meds, but I do know that they're highly individualized and often require a lot of tinkering to get just right. Surely there must be a way for you to experiment with combinations of medication that might be more helpful? Can Zoloft and Cymbalta be combined? There are so many meds on the market now, I would like to think that with the right guidance, if you can find it, you could feel better than you do now.

Pain and depression together are a nasty cycle to be stuck in. Each makes the other worse. I have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt (although I never had chronic pain to the extent that you do). Having been through a phase when I contemplated suicide regularly, and even went so far as to look up how-to instructions online, I can relate to how dark life can get. I also hasten to add that I got through that time and now I'm glad that I hung in there. I wish you courage, good luck, and a health provider who can steer you in a more positive direction.

LL Cool Joe said...

Although your friend is stunning, beautiful etc etc. she's still very insecure.

Personally I don't think her gender has anything to do with her catty comment. All genders make nasty comments like that to put another person down. Men are just as guilty as women. Lets just be honest, most people seem to find joy in bringing another person down. Isn't that what all these magazines like Hello etc, do? Most people are just not that nice!

DarcKnyt said...

I want to second, third, fourth, or whatever place I come in, the idea that the insecurities of others are being brought to the fore and spotlighted by your stability and new-found strength.

For those people to interpret an innocuous comment about a web site being tricked to guess your age well shy of truth as braggadocio is not only indicative of insecurity, but perhaps slight envy?

I wonder if this person, despite her beauty, isn't mistaken for being less than her actual age. While there's nothing wrong with that, it might be a slight sore spot. Just wondering. That response is so far afield from the comment, it leaves me curious.

And no, I don't think you're being hyper-sensitive either. I think you're a pretty balanced, level-headed person with a good eye for reality and objectivity. If you're being stung, then I'm certain the barbs are intentional.

And yes, I do know what this is like.

Sparkling Red said...

Joey: True enough, men compete with each other too. I can't comment on that because I don't experience it directly. I will have to trust your opinion as an insider to the scene. But yes, most people have the capacity to be pretty awful, and they indulge in stepping on other people to feel better on a regular basis.

DarcKnyt: Thanks for the reassurance! I guess one can't win. When I was a kid I got picked on for being not good enough. Now I'm getting picked on because I'm perceived as being too good, which isn't even true. I'm just another human being bumbling through life as best I can, trying not to do too much harm along the way.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hmmm... I've heard a lot about women and infighting, but don't really understand it. Stay strong and don't take any crap! Word!!

Granny Annie said...

The single answer to "what is going on" is: Jealousy

Ginny said...

Sounds like she's insecure to me. I myself showed a friend a photo that the app guessed I was much younger and we laughed over it. I think a lot of woman say things like that and don't realize how hurtful and rude it is. I'm a sensitive girl so I would have been peeved at that comment.

G. B. Miller said...

I've had people purposely misinterpret comments of mine so that they could make a complaint against me (had a security guard make complaint and added a lie to it, simply because I called her new hairstyle "interesting"), and it goes across genders, although I've found that women at my job have a tendency to lie more in order to excuse their abysmal behavior.

Father Nature's Corner

Emma Gorst said...

Wow so mean!
Maybe she just has Major Issues. There's no reason to be mean or rude. She may have been having a really bad day (that's the only reason I can think of) - it happens - we can all be cruel at times - but really, that's not how friends "work" is it?
Sartre said 'Hell is other people" but that doesn't mean we should accept it as is; on the contrary we go forward in life behaving morally anyway. Which means, not being nasty ourselves, and accepting that others are just being nasty sometimes, and they're responsible for that.

Lynn said...

I don't know - I don't think teasing is ever good. I can usually tell if there is underlying meanness there.

Granny Annie is probably right - jealousy is behind those remarks. I have cut two friends loose in the last couple of years, because I got so weary of them putting me down in little ways and always making me feel bad about myself (they don't know each other, but have very similar personalities - I seem to attract people like that.)

Vanessa T said...

Wow, Spark, I am so sorry you're having to deal with this! Yes, you are right in feeling this is wrong, and no, it's not normal. Not between people who are truly friends.

You may look at this woman and see stunner, but I'm betting she looks in the mirror and sees aging former beauty. To use a moment of silliness to make a dig at you shows her envy and jealousy far more than she realizes. I'm guessing you're not the only friend she digs at, and she would probably be considered the prettiest among her whole group of friends. It's a tactic of insecure pretty girls, so they always outshine their friends. If your friend is still single, even more reason for her to feel insecure.

As to how to cope with it, I suppose you could always turn it back and highlight the meanness. "Wow, that was kind of hostile, are you mad at me for something?" might be enough to let her know she's crossed a line and maybe give her an opportunity to air her feelings.

I hope it works out. Friends are hard to find, even harder to keep. *hugs*