~Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Low Places with Friends

The e-mail I sent to my friends explaining that Scott and I were going to try and work things out was not an easy e-mail to write. Like denying accusations of being an addict, I found myself refuting their beliefs that I was a victim. He accidentally ripped my sleeve, not as a way to punish me or hurt me, but as a means of removing me from blocking the exit, I wrote. I knew the words--even if they were the truth--would sound like a hollow excuse to them.

So I was not surprised when no one responded to my e-mail.

The night Scott dropped by to talk, I wasn't supposed to be home. I was actually supposed to be meeting my friends for happy hour drinks. But when I called a few people for directions, no one picked up the phone. And the next day when I called to confirm our 4th of July plans, once again my messages went unanswered. It took a week for us to get back in touch.

"The last contact I had with you was the e-mail about Scott and I trying to work things out," I said quietly to Harvey. "I haven't heard from anyone since and I think it's because I'm staying with him."

"We just don't trust him anymore and don't feel safe around him," she explained.

Safe? They don't feel safe around him? They think he's going to harm them? He's not a maniac, I thought. My friends haven't even talked with me about the fight since it happened. All they know is when I called them crying and hysterical. They haven't heard from me now that I've had a chance to calm down.

"Can you blame them, Sar?" I called Mel who had been out of the country during the whole episode and was being filled in as she walked off the boat. "I don't want him around me anymore either. I don't blame them at all."


Another week passed. Not one return phone call, not one e-mail, not one text message, I haven't even received so much as a MySpace comment from my friends. I assume our rafting trip has been canceled because it was last weekend and I didn't hear anything about it. Scott had noticed my somber outlook and sudden lack of plans, but declined to say anything. He was smoking and we were having another conversation.

"You know," he inhaled, "You get very quiet when something is bothering you. You're whole demeanor changes. You can't hold things back like this."

"I didn't want to tell you because there is nothing you can do about it and it will only hurt you, so there is no point in you sharing the burden."


"My friends..."

"They don't like me anymore?"


He inhaled again, "I suspected as much. You went from seeing them three times a week to not mentioning their names in two weeks."

In those two weeks, Scott and I have repaired the damage. We restarted with a couple of dates-- a dinner, a trip to the movies--and have worked our way back to lounging around my apartment, watching TV and smoking. We don't see each other nearly as much as we used to and have managed to live on some sort of schedule. The code word has yet to be used and the mood has mostly been light. Scott and I are going to be fine.

"They're younger?"

"Yeah. Younger than me, which makes them way younger than you," I teased, bumping into his side.

"Nothing bad has ever happened to them in that suburban bubble of theirs. They don't have the experience you and I have."

"Funny. The only people who are supportive of us working things out are my two confidants at work: N and Mike. They're both in their thirties. One is a divorced lesbian and the other gained four foster children last year."

"See? Well it doesn't hurt my feelings that they no longer like me. I sort of expected that. It will just be awkward the next few times we get together and then we'll all move on."

I just wonder when that's going to be. In my last e-mail exchange with Katie, she wrote, I don’t know if I’m ready yet… he has a LOT to prove… and I’m not sure if I’m ready to let him start. In the two weeks the contempt for Scott has transitioned from worry about me, which I understood on some level, to how it affects them. That's what I don't understand. She's not ready? It's not her relationship; it's my relationship.

I hate that my friends have put me in the middle. On a weekly basis I am now forced to select who I want to be with, either Scott or them, because it's obvious I can't have both. I hate that they are the ones who are making me choose. Honestly, it would be easier if it was him forcing a decision upon me.

And that is the problem with your friends knowing the problems between you and your beau, wrote Mike. They will never see him the way you do. They will never understand him the way you do. (This directly applies to telling anyone about marriage problems as well.) I think you are going to have to stop telling them about your relationship issues, since this is a serious “boyfriend”. When you are dating, it is at your discretion to tell them what you want. When you are in a “relationship”, like you are, you have to keep some things confidential. If you need to lean on someone, you need to pick one person, and swear them to secrecy. Those are the rules, and I don’t write them. That’s the only way you are not going to end up in the middle of this kind of crap.

I think he's right.


*kb* said...

I'm sad that your "friends" have chosen to respond this way. I know my friends absolutely despise the ME relationship, but they would never turn their backs on me. Do I talk about him with them anymore? no, pretty infrequently as I know they get so irritated, but they love me, so they deal with my "issues"! :) Hopefully they'll come around.

Venting said...

I think your friend Mike is right. I have my blog to vent, but I never tell my friends about fights. Just a general rule.

Sarah said...

Well crap. I can file this under "Things I didn't know until it was too late."

Anonymous said...

Yeah that was a hard lesson I FINALLY learned when I was dating Gaylord Fokker (not real name but damn close..). I met him on a deployment and he inevitably was the one who started my series of long distance dating for a few years. Anyways anytime we would fight, or he would act suspicious i would run and tell everything to my best friend and a few others.. they wound up hating him I wound up forgiving him many times over. Since then I have learned to select my battles that I share with my friends carefully, as they do with me. And when they do share we have an understanding that a lot of it's venting and no one is perfect so we allow each other to vent and not hold it against the spouse that we are venting about.

Since your friends are younger it's going to take them a while to realize that it is your relationship to decide what to do with, and not theirs. He doesn't need to prove anything to them, just you. I hope they come around, but remember true friends don't make you choose sides, they just pick you up without the "I told you so's" if it doesn't work out and buy you a drink.

nicole said...

i learned that same lesson with my previous relationship before this one. i would tell my one friend every little thing that happened, and she ended up really disliking the guy, cause usually i would go to her about things when there was a problem, instead of go on and on about how great things were. she ended up getting an inaccurate view of the guy. i definitely kept that in mind with the next relationship. no more sharing all the details of fights that wouldn't probably mean anything two days later.

Sarah said...

When did friendships become about intentionally hiding information and a false sense of security? Am I just that naive? Is the problem with us relaying the information or with them for absorbing it so strictly?

IS THIS WHY THERE ARE SO MANY RELATIONSHIP BLOGS OUT THERE? The safety of anonymity and not having to hear people we know in real life say they hate our boyfriends?

kristin b said...

it's definitely why we all write.. to get out of our head what we're thinking so we're not judged by those around us. how crazy is that? we're not judged by people who've never seen us but just read what we write.. but we are by those who are supposed to love us unconditionally.

but the same ethic goes with venting to your friends about your parents and vice versa. it's understandable but then it's not. it's just frustrating!

=_= said...

Sarah, it's not easy to have a boyfriend/girlfriend and friends at the same time.

True friends will give you space when you first started dating a new person. who doesn't want to be with new found love all the time?

Your friends don't want to be around him, so if they invite you, you will invite him. As cold as this may sound, you have to choose, your friends or him.

Sonrisa said...

Been there before. Only I cried to my mom who would not and could not forgive my bf for his hurtful words and actions. Its definitely a lesson learned. Since then I've kept my mouth shut and considered my relationship sacred and chose not to share anything with anyone. The same way I wish my mom would have gotten over it, I wish your friends would get over it too. Its not their life. The only way I was able to change my mom's mind was to find a new guy. Our breakup had nothing to do with her but it was nice to start over with a "new" guy.

Peach said...

your friends just care a lot about you, they'll relax in time and when Scott's been consistantly better behaved and they can see he's genuine again... in the meantime, we're here for you and we don't judge :-)

Anonymous said...

I know this sounds funny, but friends are protective and when someone does something to you they take it personally.. therefore the judgment. It only takes one time for them to form that judgment. A lot of us create blogs because we understand that what we read is only a fraction of their lives, and therefore your blog friends are less likely to hold a grudge against your partner.

I wouldn't say it's hiding things from your friends, but having the wisdom to know what to go to them about and when.. for every bad thing you go to them about you've got to brag about 10 good things to equal out the mix.

Stand your ground and work things out with him they will come around when they are ready.

Dazza said...

Yeah, it's funny how you feel as the "friend", especially if they try to patch up a relationship that seemed poisoned or dangerous... I often wonder if I was doing the right thing with my best friend, commiserating one week and then trying to say what I liked about a guy the next when she tried to give it another go... reading you Post has convinced me that I am right to always be on her side, pretty much whatever...

(in Milan, Italy)

Drama Queen said...

welldone Mike. Lesson learned babe. I never talk about BF in a bad way. . .I would hate to think my friends would hold my 'vents' against him. . .

SuvvyGirl said...

Mike has a good point. Either your friends will let go of whatever their harboring against him or they'll stay pissed off and stupid for a really long time. They need to try to understand things from your point of view. The girlfriend point and they need to trust your judgement.

La Femme said...

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I've always had friends that I could tell everything too, and they'd support me no matter what (within reason...they wouldn't let me drunk drive or anything like that) I think that's what friends should do.

Drama Queen said...

Agreed Le Femme but friends also want what is best for you and if what you are telling them about a guy doesn't match those expectations. . .well who can blame your friends for wanting to protect you.

Sarah said...

Are they protecting me by cutting me out of the group and not being in touch with me? Is that really done in my best interest?

Drama Queen said...

People aren't perfect, we fuck up, we do things wrongly. . .c'mon you know that. They made a call, they thought thats how they could get the message through to you. Wrong as it was.

Sarah said...

Gotcha, I see where you're coming from now.

Drama Queen said...

Reading through you archives I see that you have wonderful friends. . .they would only ever want the best for you. . .put it as lesson learnt and only ever tell them good things. I am not suggesting lie but there comes a time when a relationship is just about two people and not your whole social group. . .afterall only those two people *really* know whats going on inside.

best of luck XX

Miss Frou Frou said...

Sarah, read all your posts, just don't comment much, but this one resonated a lot.

My best friend pretty much embargoed my talking about my ex. She said it hurt and frustrated her too much to listen to me talk about him, either good or bad, too say he and I had a temptuous relationship is an understatement.

So I stopped talking about him to her, which also meant over time that I stopped talking to her about other things, and while we are still friends the relationship has never been the same as I feel restricted.

Interestingly, about 12 months after this all happened, in a conversation with a group of people I mentioned the Boomerang Boy and she was shocked to discover we were still involved. Because I'd stopped talking about him, she assumed I'd listened to her advice and stopped seeing him. And then she was mad because I wasn't sharing information and she felt uncomfortable that there were other things that I'd kept from her...sigh

August said...

Okay, I’m not saying either party is right or wrong but if one of my friend’s told me the story of your fight, I would not be 100% for the guy either. Just reverse the situation. Would you be jumping at the chance of hanging out with someone that treated your friend like Scott treated you? Whether or not you and Scott worked things out, your friends are only going by what you told them about him and that will be a hard image for them to shake. I know it would be for me.

Nicole said...

Hi Sarah. I, too, have had this issue - been on both sides, actually. I have been the friend that has judged harshly, based on only negative information, and I have been the one "cut off" and ganged up on because of who I was dating. To me, it is a true and unfortunate fact of life that you will have some friends that will not be able to understand that a lot of what you are doing is just venting, and you will have to censor what you tell them. (I do this.)

However, I have found when I became more forgiving and less judgmental about my friends' actions with guys, they responded similarly. So maybe you guys can all get through this ok!

Or, maybe you could tell them something like you appreciate their concern, and you know they only have your best interests at heart, but that this is your choice and you hope that they can be happy for you and not punish you about it?

Just some of my thoughts. I'm sure everything will work out in time!

Blue Soup said...

Given your friends' past form as supportive and understanding, I can't help but feel disappointed in them on this occasion. Their actions do not strike me as those of genuine friends. Ok, they may dislike him, they may dislike YOUR DECISION, but ultimately, friends are there to love and support one another through all times, regardless of good or bad or the causes of those times. I think it is terrible that they feel that it is ok to abandon you and not "be there" where Scott is concerned. That simply is not on. You can't pick and choose what you help your friends through, it's an all or nothing thing and it makes me mad mad mad that you appear to be in a "nothing" situation with them when you have always struck me as a loyal and compassionate individual who would move heaven and earth for those you care about. Oh god I am angry about this (and it's half midnight and now I'll never get to sleep!! :P )

"It's not her relationship; it's my relationship." The para ending with this also got my goat. It made me roll my eyes. I hate "friends" who insist on making an issue about themselves when it isn't about them. It smacks of being totally self-absorbed (ha, says the blogger who talks about herself all the time - but you know what I mean right?)

As Venting said, blogs are great for getting stress out, and provide a wonderful circle of people who can give advice without judging (ok, and with judging at times too I guess, but that's neither here nor there as we are not "real" people in your "real world"). You can get help and support from us without being abandoned just because we may not like the person in question and even if one or two of us did happen to do that, it's not like there aren't 10 more commenters around the corner with ideas to help you through. Bright side and all that :) Keep your relationship traumas away from your real life "friends" and take support from the wonderful (and weirdly welcoming) online community because many of us do that very thing for this very reason.

Good luck gorgeous xx

Blue Soup said...

**mental note** Must stop writing such long-winded comments. Nighty

J said...

Sarah, I have been there many times over. As you know my blog focuses mainly on my dating adventures and relationships...this is for the exact reason that your friend brought up in his email. Hang in there...they will come around eventually. And if they don't how good of friends were they?

Indiana said...

One of the worst things you can do when you have a fight with a lover is call your "friends" first thing. In doing so you are asking them to take sides, so they do: yours.

When you calm down and realise that the fight is the normal part of any relationship, they are not hearing your making up, they instead are only hearing the fight.

And younger people have a much narrower view of the world, they still see in black and white and expect perfection...they don't want to really believe that the world is ugly and that in that ugliness you can even find beauty.

M said...

oh my god, I'm more than a little shocked reading these comments. I think you should be able to tell the good and the bad to your friends. They have been there when you were single and *if* you ever end up single again then they will still be there for you.

Having said that - you tell the bad AND the good. They only know what you tell them so you can't really blame them if you're just complaining about a situation..all they know is the complainy bit - not the lovely parts.

Also, when a friend starts a new relationship and they're spending all their time with the new guy/girl (as of course you'd want to) then as a friend you end up feeling used. So while you might be feeling betrayed by the situation I bet they are too - more so.

All I know is this - don't get rid of the friends and act like they are just transitional people you see between relationships (or when you have a fight) because that's no way to treat a friend at all! I would hate it if someone only called me up when she/he was having problems with the partner. As if I'd want to spend time with that person!

I know QUITE a few 'friends' who have let their friendships slide who now have no one but the boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend as it may be). So, please have healthy relationships - see your friends without the boyfriend. See the boyfriend without the friends. Talk to whomever you want to about whatever you want to but be balanced about it - and surely if you're being balanced in the way you conduct your relationships and friendships then so will they.

Savage said...

I have seen this kind of thing happen in some of my social circles before, and it was always a curiosity. Close friends who would take a bullet for you suddenly transform into "fair-weather" friends.
I agree that you should be able to tell your TRUE friends anything, good or bad, but sometimes keeping relationship stuff IN a relationship is good too. It's just a matter of finding a balance.
Now might be a good time to asses how many of your "friends" are really there for you like you would be for them and how many just like those sunny days and blue skies :) good luck on everything

Anonymous said...

I am catching up. I haven't written yet but it's uncanny the parallels.

Just wow...write more later

Nomes said...

My bestest friend in the whole wide world ended up calling my ex-boyfriend (before she met him) The Monkey Lover. Why? Because he dicked me around something shocking to start with.

She's still dubious as to whether he has a soul, but at least she now counts him amongst her closest friends.

It did make me consider what I told her. I continued to vent once in a while at her, but ONLY when she knew him. And knew how well he treated me for the most part. But this is her, and her alone.

Most friends: they only heard/saw the good stuff. The bad stuff? Why, that's drama for behind closed doors. Or - y'know - the entire intermenet.

THIS time round, my flatmate knows all. So do most of my friends. So does his wife. Eeek.

pink jellybaby said...

~I think you get to know which friends you can and can't talk to about it. It's so hard, i've got to the point where there's only really one perhaps two people that i talk to if i have a problem, and that's only if it's a very big one, otherwise i keep quiet.
But if you can, try not to go this way, it's not easy and it's not good to keep things bottled up, i've gone so long without talking to my friends about thigns that now it's too hard to.
I think the key is in the details...of ocurse a huge bust up demands a chat with friends, but some things can be kept low key - perhaps just until you have a better idea of what is going on. xx

Anonymous said...

I wonder when I hear of your friends and I read your writing what perspective they have on your relationship. I understand being wary. I totally GET that...but the only way to rid the wary is to try again, right? I mean how are they going to be able to really understand the relationship if they are choosing to shut it out? And that's a very important thing that must be understood.

Your friends CHOSE to stifle their relationship with Scott. You didn't choose it for them.

I have no advice only a very very real understanding of this.


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