Friendship is really important to me. Obviously. It’s usually one of those things that matter to people. I like to think I’m a good friend, and I’ve surrounded myself with people whom I consider to be good friends. We’ve all been friends for years, helped each other through all kinds of things, and had plenty of really ridiculously good times along the way.
So it’s really fucking heartbreaking when one of those friendships starts to deteriorate.
Especially when the reasons for it aren’t even close to being clear. I can see and feel our friendship breaking down around us, and I haven’t the slightest idea why it’s happening or what to do about it. There are probably six worse feelings in the world than that.
This girl and I are roommates, going on our third year together, so when all this began a few months ago we thought it was made up of a bunch of little logistical things. My ex and I had just broken up, so I was around a lot more; she was spending most of her time with her boyfriend, so she wasn’t around. Then we were looking for a new place, and moving, which is always stressful. Then we were trying to figure out how things would work in the new place, incorporating another friend as a third roommate. Then I got a new boyfriend, and things changed again.
But it doesn’t matter how many small or even moderate things we solve. There’s still tension that resists being defined and traced back.
It’s always difficult to talk about these things without seeming like a bitch; because although I know that I am not blameless in this situation, if I’m doing something majorly wrong, I’ll be damned if I know what it is. If I knew what it was, I’d be fixing it. So instead of writing here about what I could be doing, I can only talk about how I wish I knew so that I could decide if it was something that I do in fact need to change or whether it’s something I won’t budge on. I’ve been thinking and thinking and all I can come up with is that sometimes in arguments I either shut down, which she hates, or become abrasive, which she also hates. I’m not proud of either of those things, but they’re post-problem. If there’s something else, some over-arching thing that makes these little arguments happen, I would love to be let in on it. At least that way I could try to be preemptive in this instead of reactionary.
But I try not to instigate these arguments. I choose my battles. I try not to let little things bother me, and for the most part I try to concern myself with my life only. Because I thought that was the problem for awhile: that we were all just trying to be too integrated with each other. That’s not to say that we as roommates shouldn’t hang out or what have you. But we were planning to cook meals together, and planning–planning!–nights to stay at home and hang out with each other. While also trying to balance our own boyfriends and exploits and jobs. It was just too stressful. So we backed off, and I have tried to focus only on what concerns me.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t solved anything. Maybe it’s because we haven’t gone all the way with it. Maybe we three haven’t completely accepted that we are different people who live different lives and who, more importantly, are not going to live together forever. If there’s something that your significant other won’t budge on that you absolutely can’t abide, that’s an issue. If it’s your temporary roommate, just deal with it or forget about it because it’s not your problem.
The girl with whom the major issues have arisen is dealing with some heavy emotional shit in her life. I understand that–I’ve been there–and I try to remember that whenever these “roommate discussions” come up. I have offered to be a sounding board to her if she ever wants to talk about her depression and the things that weigh on her, because I want to help in whatever way I can. I understand what it’s like. I understand how hard it is to remember that not everyone’s out to hurt you or that some things aren’t important enough to dwell on. I have been in that place, and I got out of it.
But I’m no saint, and my patience is not eternal. Part of me wants to go to her and say Stop arguing with me over this minor bullshit and tell me what your real problem with me is. Because if she’s not going to let me be part of her support system, I frankly don’t want to be subject to her symptoms. I know, it sounds cruel. But the thing people forget most when they have depression is how much their depression hurts the people around them.
It’s a no-win situation for the people on the outside. Stick around: inadvertently hurt the person, while going crazy yourself trying NOT to hurt the person. Say anything: make the person feel like shit. Leave/Check out: make the person feel EVEN MORE like shit. This is what’s so heartbreaking about it. The last thing I have ever wanted to do is hurt this girl, but when every little thing becomes a point of contention it’s impossible not to, especially given the wild differences in how we communicate.
When it comes down to it, the way I got myself out of depression was by cutting the ties that held me down or hurt me. I had just thought I was kind of done doing that.