The balance of a relationship between friends can be a tricky thing. Throughout my lifetime of friendships, faux, true and those that I thought were true but were actually faux, I have discovered that no matter how close you are (or think you are) with someone, there is always a line that can be crossed, and learning where it ends and begins is a delicate process.
When friendships are loose, and by loose I mean new or newer (usually) and casual, they are typically more relaxed and without grand expectations. Conversation is generally light, and for the moments when deep woes or wishes are revealed, they seem intimate and honest, even as the friends are relieved to know they are fleeting. In these relationships, there are times when the friends may become upset with one another, and perhaps even the friendship will end because of it. If not, things are patched up usually by pretending that whatever incident that caused the upheaval actually didn't happen at all.
As people become tighter, as they learn more about each other's lives and personal characteristics, spending more time together and offering opinions, tension and discomfort may arise. These are my experiences, at least, and even though I have had it happen before, every time it happens, I still find myself a bit surprised and rather emotionally affected.
Within the past few months, I've had two experiences with people I cherished as close friends that have provided me again with 1. an upset emotional state and 2. a reassessment of where the line is in friendship. In one case, a friend reacted negatively to my well-intentioned actions of support and interest. She felt I had crossed the line, that I had overstepped my bounds on what was allowed between us as friends. Although I could clearly see her perspective on the situation and felt sorry for how she had interpreted my actions, as I knew I might feel similarly if in her situation, seeing it from her mental/emotional place, I felt it was really an issue of miscommunication and misinterpretation. She was always someone I loved dearly and believed in and wanted the best for, as she deserved. I was pained to feel a backlash to what I had meant from a wonderful, loving place. But even though explanations were offered and a rather mature conversation occurred, it remained an awkward moment between us two, one that seemed to say a lot about where our friendship stood, and what direction it would now move in.
In more recent days, I had my second experience with a close friend that brought me to thinking again about where that boundary line is in friendship. Perhaps this issue is more sensitive than the previous, because my relationship with this person is much more complex. I don't feel it's necessary to expose great detail, but the gist of it is that an argument arose between this friend and myself when I felt my friend was inappropriate with their (out of respect, I'd like to protect their identity by all means, and thus will not refer to their gender) mention of how I was living my life. Now, before I go any further, I will say this: I do not do drugs, I do not drink, I rarely go out to clubs or bars (a few times/year, max), I don't engage in illegal activities, I exercise fairly regularly, I spend my free time with the ones I love and in efforts to better myself as a performer and as a person, and I am generally quite happy, healthy and make conscious attempts to keep a positive nature and be good to others. So, given this information, there is nothing I'm doing in my life that is harmful to myself or others, and, as an adult, I feel that I should be the one in charge of my own path and what activities and endeavors I choose to partake in. My friend disagrees. They feel that they are entitled to tell me what I should and should not do with my time and money.
The situation is not black and white - there are factors that I do not feel I should go into detail here. But the point is, I felt this person had clearly crossed a line, and they strongly disagreed. After much discussion on the matter, via text, which was ghastly and disappointing, as I felt I deserved the respectful gesture of a phone call, we finally agreed to disagree. Yet although we both spoke of being peaceful about it, I knew something within me had shifted. New light had been shed on the balance of our friendship, of where I was comfortable letting this person into my life, and it honestly made me sad.
Sad? Yes. Sad, because I can't help but want to be emotionally close to others. I want to share my life with people as much as I want to hear about the lives of others, and I want to do so without feeling as though I am setting myself up to be told what to do. And by this, I don't mean having someone offer me advice or an opinion - that is acceptable when warranted. I am speaking more of a level of intimacy between two people that somehow gives one person the feeling of a right to have control. This is when close friendships get tricky: when intimacy turns into a carte blanche to overstep bounds and play puppeteer to someone else's life. Finding the delicate balance of being a supportive friend without becoming a controlling confidant is a continual exploration.
With all this being said, I suppose I should say that from these experiences, I am learning again about letting go. Letting go of what is out of my control; letting go of any lingering desire to control; letting go of what no longer serves me, even if it hurts to imagine being without it. Yet I remind myself that pain can be a sign of growth, and knowing that I am constantly aspiring towards becoming the most loving, gracious me that I can, I let myself hurt a little in situations like these. But only a little. I think I'm smart enough to know when it's time to move on.
View the original post at: http://michaelaistall.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/learning-the-line-an...