Talking to an old friend – By @melinaflp
By Melina Filippidou
Talking to an old friend
Didn’t even have her number in my contacts, didn’t even care. I could barely remember what her voice sounds like and I was never planning to call her anyway. I wasn’t sure if she cut me off or I cut her off. When Marc suggested that we call an old friend I automatically thought of my high school best friend, a sweet, witty, easygoing girl with crystal clean sneakers and purple highlights. I really wanted to meet her and catch up, drink questionable liquor and hold her hair while she vomits, for old times’ sake. But that never happened because I ran into C. The most provocative and complicated person I’ve ever met. I also knew her since school, and I when I saw her walking down the street like a diva, black lace dress and black lipstick, ignoring the indiscreet looks of the ignorant, looking gorgeous and miserable as always, I couldn’t resist some small talk. Although I hadn’t been thinking about her for a long time, she used to share so much with me it felt almost unnatural seeing her and not knowing what she’s been up too.
Apparently she was still incredibly sensitive and incredibly addicted to unhappiness. She was asking me all these questions about my life but when I tried to answer them she was already distracted by something else, looking nervously around like she was in danger. So I thought we should talk about her, give her my attention and half my cigarettes to help her feel safe. It didn’t work. She was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she couldn’t commit to a proper conversation. I felt like I was really close to start psychoanalyzing her out loud and I really didn’t want to turn this meeting into a chance for me to play mom, therapist or to point any fingers. I suddenly remembered that I cut her off for a reason. We think we can help our friends but the truth is we can’t help anyone unless they want to help themselves. Let alone the fact that the kind of help they sometimes need is a professional one and unless we’re shrinks, our unprofessional help may cause even more damage.
What really troubled me this time was why I chose to catch up with C., who I knew could do just fine without me, instead of going out with my high school b.f. with whom I’d certainly have loads of fun. Was it just me being so selfish and insecure that I actually felt I could relate to C., if not using her emotional complexity to feel good about myself? I found that thought quite disturbing, and so I decided to look into it more. I realized that we don’t necessarily choose our friends based on qualifications such as agreeableness, intelligence or sense of humor. I’m starting to think that our unconscious does half the job, by pushing us to stick around people whose needs and troubles match and feed our own pathology. And that would be scary if it wasn’t exceptionally interesting.