The Friendship Puzzle

Image by Ingo Jakubke from Pixabay

I’ve had various friendship mishaps over the years, mostly due to me being a “grey rock”, who pretends to be sweet, docile, obliging, passive and pacifying. I have a hidden fear that if other people know my true self–a person being a little bitter, harboring misgivings, growing up among antagonistic narcissists–they would probably leave me. I try to be as agreeable as possible, but deep in my heart, I have a lot of disagreements. Often I don’t even agree with myself. And of course my former self was so strange and dumb that I disagree with that ridiculous figure the most.

And years ago, I was a student, living on a college campus about three hundred miles from where I am living right now. I had about six housemates. The place we lived in was called “International House”, which would only allow one or two residents from the same country to live there. I will not say which country each person is from and what ethnicity each person belongs to, since it is irrelevant to my story. It can happen to anybody of any nationality, any ethnicity, any color etc. I am only going to say that each person in this story has a different socialeconomic and national background.

Anyway, my grey rock personality faced a serious challenge one day when I found that I was unwittingly embroiled in an inexplicable battle between L and M. I had always felt that L and M (both women) didn’t like each other, but I didn’t know why. As a true grey rock, I couldn’t bring myself to ask them why although I was itchy to know why. It seemed to me that I could get along with both. As you know, a grey rock never shows her true color and takes pride in her ability, or rather disability (at least emotionally), to get along with everyone.

It was about a game we played just to fend off the boredom. I talked about it in a previous post, but I am right now too lazy to search my old posts. Anyway, it was a guessing game–whoever guessed the historical figure with the least possible questions would win. And L designed the figure to be Kubla Khan, who was one of Genghis Khan’s grandsons. As expected, M didn’t know him and couldn’t guess it. M immediately claimed the game to be unfair since Kubla was not as well known as his grandfather. And L and M asked me to be the arbitrator since I am of Mongolian descent. I love my Mongolian heritage, but not in this context. Also I was annoyed that L and M didn’t fight their battle on historical figures of their own long bloody history of their own respective countries. They decided to use my ancestor as a prop. Anyway, as a typical grey rock, I tried to play dumb so that I could get away with not giving my opinion, knowing that whatever arbitration I could offer would make at least one enemy for me.

I think that was the beginning of my fallout with M. Soon another incident happened. It was a little embarrassing to talk about it, but I will try to get over the discomfort to talk about it. After all, if one wants to write honestly, one should better be ready to talk about something uncomfortable. There was a guy who was a post-doc in the university–let’s just say his name is K, who lived in the International House for a while before moving out. So K knew L, M, and me. M talked with me about K just as a friend. M was a little annoyed that I was not good at the kind of girl talk she liked to have. I told M about my difficult childhood and difficult parents, but M brushed it aside. “Everybody suffers from her mom.” That’s M’s opinion. Incidentally it was also L’s opinion. At the time, we didn’t know much about narcissism. I only knew something was wrong with my parents and my relatives–narcissism runs in the family. However I had not connected my relatives’ madness with narcissism. Not yet. I think M and L were very wrong in saying “everybody suffers from her mom” since such a statement tries to group narcissistic mothers with those normal mothers who struggle so hard to support their kids. One wouldn’t group a serial killer with other humans by saying, “every person is dangerous,” right? For the same reason, one should not group narcissistic parents with normal parents.

Several weeks after our conversation about K, I suddenly found that M was quite upset with me. I should have asked her why. If she didn’t want to tell me, I should have insisted on knowing and insisted on her telling me why she was upset with me since I didn’t feel that I did anything to her at all. We used to be on very friendly terms and we used to go to bookshops, restaurants and concerts together. I felt rejected when M stopped being my friend and deliberately kept a little distance from me. And soon I heard rumors that somehow K and M had a little spat–either K wanted to be M’s boyfriend but M didn’t like him, or M wanted to be K’s girlfriend but K didn’t like her.

For some inexplicable reason, there was a rumor that somehow I was involved in K and M’s spat, which I didn’t know why. However I knew I was not involved. I felt that I got lost in all these friendship puzzles. And being a grey rock, I couldn’t even step out of my psychological barrier to ask people why.

I wish I could ride a time machine to go back and ask people what was going on at the time. I wanted to know everything that was happening around me–all those little twists and turns. At the time I was trying so hard to be a good girl and a perfect grey rock. Consequently I missed all the chances of really knowing people.

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