Not all friendships are easy. People are complicated. Sometimes they’re crazy or overly needy or mean, and you realize that only later. I have several corpses in the friendship graveyard, such as the ex-friend who was furious at me for taking the job here at Eastern. I had finished my Ph.D and was job-less; I was thrilled to get work so close to home. She, however, felt betrayed. She wasn’t a lover or a relative, mind you, just a good, if difficult, friend.
Sometimes, however, friendships can be resurrected. I was in therapy this past year, dealing with the grief caused by the death of a good friend as well as my failed relationship with my only sister. Therapy caused me to examine my relationships more closely. One of the insights gleaned from talking to my counselor was that we often dislike certain traits in other people because we share these very same traits. We might find annoying those people who feel the need to be good in everything because we ourselves feel the need to be good in everything. We might frown at the individual trying to capture the limelight because it’s what we ourselves feel compelled to do. (Of course, we often dislike people who are very different from our BEST selves. I will probably never be close friends with a right-wing Republican.)
This past fall I examined a friendship with a woman with whom I’ve had some issues in the past. She can be bossy, like me. She likes attention, like me. Perhaps one reason she likes attention is that somewhere in her past she didn’t get enough, or, more likely, of the right kind. I thought of all the things I like and admire about her. We have enough in common. We’re both smart and ambitious. We like to read. We like to knit. We’re both feminists.
I’ve decided to forgive her for being like me.