Monday, August 13, 2007

Let's talk estrangement

Estrangement is a weird state of affairs, and something I never thought I'd experience, save the truly poorly behaved ex or two.
Yet here, I am, 31 and technically estranged from 2 female friends and a numbers of exs.

This comes up because I've been passing a friend's ex on the street alot lately, and he goes really far out of his way to ignore me - and it's weird.

Over the years we've had dinner, he's used my kayak and their relationship didn't end badly, it just... ended. So now I'm - I guess - estranged from this person who I will likely see weekly...

One of the things that seems so odd about the experience of estrangement is that it's not something I would choose, were it not either a) chosen for me b) the only way to keep myself in check.

If left to my own devices, I believe that you can pretty much work through anything, and if you can't, you can mutually agree to leave each other alone.

The first option - Chosen for Me - is a uniquely female experience.

I worked with someone who I became close to - I was moved into her department and technically answered to her. However, it was well known that her managerial skills were questionable, so I was urged to request that I answer directly to her supervisor. The whole thing put me in an odd position, because no one would ever explain why I didn't answer to her.

I stood up to her when it was appropriate, but the managment skills really needed work - sort of the dish-it-bit-can't-take-it kind... and all the time I was trying to balance our outside friendship: I picked her up from the airport, heeded her husband's desperate call for a last minute surprise birthday cake and painted her scary high walls - you know, friendship stuff... with a heaping side of work discord.

When I left that job, I was honest in an exit interview.
A CONFIDENTIAL exit interview.
That got turned into gossip.

And now she crosses the street when she sees me.
Why not confront me?
Why not accept the criticism as a learning experience?
Why not call me a bitch and get over it?

The other experience was a high maintance friend whom I forgot to maintain while I was back in school.

She stopped talking to me the day after my apartment burned.

Haven't run into her, which is for the best. But a shame that she couldn't get past whatever she couldn't get past.

Whatever the problem was - I ask again,
Why not confront me?
Why not yell at me that I wasn't paying her enough attention?
Why not call me a bitch a get over it?

The Ex Estrangement...

I will take the blame for instigating this behavior on a number of occasions.

Mostly, I do it because if I don't, I'll keep trying to fix things and keep kicking that dying, dead, moldly horse.

I'll put up with almost any behavior, as long as its not explicitly hurtful. I think that inattentiveness or general crazy-head is acceptable in short bursts, but not for the long-haul - because when those things go unheeded, they become explicitly harmful to another, if only as indicators of someone's inability to control their actions.

My own experience leading up to estrangement with men has always been the build-up of small injustices.
I mean, who wants to be the girl who won't accept a little off-the-chart odd behavior?
But there comes a time when even the most benign excuse, if used enough, grows to form a malignant problem that has to be attended to.

So I remove the problem - Just cut it off.

But I don't want to - I NEVER want to.

I want to believe the excuse and have it be true and keep the good and have the bad be a long-gone distant memory that we laugh about later.

A couple of years ago, I got back into communication with an ex who was always cancelling on me to volunteer with someone needier than you, me and everyone else you'll probably ever meet.

And that's a GREAT reason to cancel on someone - really.
I mean, even after 8 months of wringing my hand over it, I felt like such bitch by walking away.

And the depressed ones, dear god, what do you do?
Do you stand by your man? What if you've only been dating a few months?
And have you ever tried to stand by a depressed guy? They're frickin' brutal -
all self-deprecation and self-pitying selfish selfness selfity self self me me me.

So - estrangement...
Do I try to fix it with the girls?

Is there some other way to extricate yourself from that kind of boy?

How do you handleit when someone you know pretends not to know you though no fault of your own?

How do you learn to not care about these things?

I'll leave you with one final thought...

The advice columnist Dan Savage has suggested that the rule for getting involved with a much younger lover is the same as a rule for campsites: leave them better than you found them.

I would suggest that the same rule applies regardless of age - and manner of relationship.

Why not try to leave people better than you found them? Douse the fire, throw out your trash and take your baggage with you when you leave.

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