In the Narnia of angry

Ever have a friend who makes you wonder what, exactly, she or he is doing in your life? A friend from whom oft wafts the sharp, alarming stink of sulfur? A friend you keep around because, well, she or he is interesting/stimulating/fun when not making you unhappy?

I just dropped that friend. It was difficult because I love all my friends and have a high tolerance threshold for human foibles. I mean, am I perfect? But said friend — hereafter referred to as “Dr. Crazyknickers” — brought to the table an inimitable mix of passive-aggressive pissery and pseudo-intellectual pontification not seen upon the Earth since the day Ayn Rand died — a quality impossible to describe in English but for which the Germans probably have a word. He also enjoyed borrowing my skirts and whinging about how it was “(his) turn to be someone’s “girlfriend.”

Please marvel, openmouthed, at the following rough timeline:

Dec. 22: An e-mail from Crazyknickers arrives to say he’ll be in town for a week; can he get back the graphic novel he lent me? I say, Sure! We don’t decide on an exact day or time, though. I make sure he knows that I’m having a rough holiday season and may not be much fun.

Dec. 23 (morning): Two calls from Dr. C. on my phone. One is a drawling, condescending voicemail — he’s channeling Lillian Hellman — the other, a hang-up. I call back; no answer. I get another e-mail later, though: When can we meet? Can we meet right now? 

Dec. 23 (evening): Text message: Can I get my books back? I reply, Sure! and await further instructions. None come.

Dec. 24: Family day. I turn my phone off, but when I check it at midnight, I have a text:. 11:30 now ooout when i cN come by toNite.Book. What? It’s Christmas Eve. I’m watching the Washington, D.C. Basilica Mass with a cup of sipping chocolate and a lapful of cats. I make a mental note to mail the damn thing to him after the holidays. I also realize why I’ve been resistant to seeing him. It’s not because I don’t have the time. It’s not because I don’t care about him. It’s because he’s emotionally tone-deaf and exhausting; the emotional equivalent of having my forehead middle finger-flicked ’til it’s bruised. He’s interesting to be around, and his oddities are fine when I’m in a good mood, but not now. Not at the most emotionally pungent time of the year. I remember how he embarrassed me at a party by asking over and over again for my pretty friend’s phone number, while ignoring my less-pretty friend when she tried to (politely) converse with him. I remember how it hurt when he asked me how it felt to be “falling rapidly” out of my upper-middle-class background. I remember many things he’s said or done that were rude, inappropriate, and creepy, and I don’t reply to the message. I get another at 1 a.m.

Dec. 25: More texts. Obviously, my lack of reply is causing him to want to MAKE ME reply. He becomes increasingly persistent and agitated. I refuse to deal with this on Christmas Day, and I’m not going to reward this kind of behavior. I table it for tomorrow. I still want to smooth the whole thing over.

Dec. 26: He posts on my Facebook wall, and his tone is so weird and off-putting that one of my friends responds, alarmed. They get into it a little bit. Embarrassed, I reply as politely as I can that I’m spending Christmas with my family and I’ll mail the book to him. He messages me to tell me how angry he is about this — “A week is more than enough time to return my property!” — and says that he “doesn’t have much faith” that I’ll return the book. His passive-aggressive, wispy-sad-pushy, ersatz-victim, blamey-blame — DAMMIT THERE IS NO ENGLISH WORD — tone pushes me past the point of no return. I HAVE GONE THROUGH THE WARDROBE DOOR TO ANOTHER WORLD OF ANGRY. I AM IN THE NARNIA OF ANGRY, WITH THE FAUNS AND THE TURKISH DELIGHT. I text him back. I say he is rude, inappropriate, and creepy, and I tell him not to contact me again. This feels amazing because it’s true, and because it’s the first time I’ve ever said it. To anyone. No matter how deserved. He texts back. I don’t read anything beyond the first word (“Whatever”). Instead, I delete the message and all previous messages, and text again to say that any further contact from him will be considered harassment. I hear nothing further.

So. The moral of the story is, purge your life of avoidable asshats. Don’t waste time wondering why they’re asshats, blaming yourself, or trying to fix it. I held onto this toxic friendship because I value my friends and hated to think there was someone in the bunch who could be so self-absorbed yet so un-selfaware; who could stalk across my boundaries in such a demanding, hurtful way. I made excuses — he’s stressed out! He just got fired! He’s having gender difficulties! — in a way I’ll never do again. I don’t have to be nice and forgiving and understanding to everyone, at all costs. The world won’t end if I’m not. I will shed the toxic, just like when I had colon hydrotherapy and raspberry seeds came out even though I hadn’t eaten raspberry seeds in months. That stuff really sticks around if you don’t get after it.

 

*I NEVER WANTED TO BORROW THE DUMB THING ANYWAY. He kept offering, though, and I felt awkward refusing. My first mistake.

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9 thoughts on “In the Narnia of angry

  1. I dropped about 4 friends like that. I had to, because overall, they were unhealthy for me. They didn’t care about my personal happiness. They weren’t the type who would be there in a pinch, and they took advantage of you when you were down. My whole life turned around when I dumped them!

  2. Life is too short to waste any precious time around toxic people and I’ve cut a couple of those people from my world. If today were my last day on earth, which could be the case for any one of us, I don’t want to spend that day around someone who brings negativity, hate, narcissism, or other bad shit into my life. I simply refuse to do so and because of it and have been criticized for being too rigid, unforgiving, critical…add whatever adjective you like. But it’s my life, my right, too fucking bad.

  3. “I don’t have to be nice and forgiving and understanding to everyone, at all costs. The world won’t end if I’m not.”

    …pure, fucking brilliance… and I wish for this awareness to continue for you, myself, and my mother (who is lovely and sweet and intelligent and yet allows folks to roll over her, nearly every day!).

    Love. You.
    Go YOU! 🙂

  4. Over time, I realized that several people were mooching off me, and I vowed to end this.
    Then there were other friends who just wasted my time, flaked out, showed up so late all the time, that it cost me lots of dollars in higher parking fees.

    Now, I am quite careful of people, and I look for a couple of qualities 1) Do they show up on time 2) If they are late, it’s not a habit but an accident and doesn’t happen very much
    3) Do they do what they say they’ll do? (Promise little) I hate people who lie, break promises and waste my time.

    The time thing really seems to separate the good friends from the bad ones. I’ve never had a friend who was good about showing up on time turn out bad later. That seemed to indicate a host of other character defects…. so pay attention to people who show up on time!
    They’re the good ones, the sane ones and the ones who respect you.

  5. It just happened AGAIN, womyn — I am weeding out the jerks with quickness and aplomb. This week I culled my Facebook friends, and a guy who was dropped for weirdness (not unlike Dr. Crazypants) responded by texting, e-mailing, and leaving me THREE voicemails in quick succession. The first two were conciliatory, e.g., “Did I do something to offend you?” and the third was a sadly arrogant attempt to regain control of the situation: “I’ve thought about it, and I remember getting the complete runaround back in ’09 when I wanted to hang out. Could not get a phone call back! So, while you seem like a nice person, I’ve decided…”

    I hit “delete” before he could finish.

  6. Word. Honji. Toxic is toxic, and you’re the only person who can be the gatekeeper against it when it comes to your life. There are enough toxic people we HAVE to deal with without adding to the mix.

  7. LOL about the delete before he could finish… wish I could do that with men talking AT me in real time LOL.

    One of my resolutions for the new year is really being serious about weeding out the toxic people, or the people who waste my life and theirs. The campaign against moochers for 2011 really worked well. I noticed they just don’t try with me anymore and stay away. The vigilance really helped. And some friends even gave me a few free concert tickets which they hadn’t done before. Energy shift!

    And sad to say sisters, I have to really reign in lesbians in my life. There is a huge amount of disfunction among lesbians over the age of 50 — you’ve got the ones who been to a gazillion 12-step groups and therapists… those are the ones who blurt out everything upon first meeting them. Hi, I’m Cindy and I’m an incest survivor… you know the type TMI.

    Lesbians to pay attention to — well they do give and take well, conversation flows, they have some sense of discretion and don’t bore you to death telling about a long love life and ex’s tt
    that.

    Lesbians who show up on time, and are gracious. Lesbians who actually send thank you emails or notes!!! Wow big time, good ones! Let’s let loose 2012 as the year of lesbians appreciating other lesbians with THANK YOU NOTES! Could be a big trend.

    So Thank You Phonaesthica! I find your posts so helpful, and your struggles and triumphs most insightful. Something about your simple honest good storytelling made this a blog favorite. Maybe because even when you are writing about difficult subjects or people, I sense an underlying compassion in your words. THANK YOU!!!

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