The whole “friendly fire” thing has hit me more times than I can remember. Usually it’s subtle, though the first attack I remember didn’t start that way. In high school, my neighbor and former friend suddenly took to sniping attacks. She would actually run up, say something unbelievably nasty about some good thing you were doing and then literally run away before you could respond. If you tried to call her on her appalling behavior later, she acted as though you were the crazy one. She did it so, so many times …. once, when my family was hosting a Japanese exchange student. Her father was on a steel mill layoff. I expressed empathy. She snapped, at some point, “Why don’t you ask your little Japanese friend about it?” Then she literally ran away home as I sat there open-mouthed.
A few months later she came over, supposedly to say hello to me, while I played pep band during a boy’s basketball game. She asked me why pep band only played boys’ games. I didn’t disagree with her at all , and I told her that we were told it was because we only do games on Fridays and Saturdays. She actually snapped something about it being a “flimsy excuse and I knew it” and literally ran off – as though it were somehow my fault and it was my job alone to overturn the entire system. Note: this behavior really doesn’t work in customer service, either.
I realized then that there was no way in hell this girl was my friend. She was just a nasty little snake in the grass out to make everyone feel like shit while pounding her chest about how she was oh-so-superior. To my disgust, far too many adults bought into her act. Her mother seemed to encourage this tactic.
Little Miss 1950s called and are disgusted too is long since out of my life and there’s no way she’s ever coming back into it. Thank God. These days my friends are real and not abusive female competitive syndrome driven sociopaths, another thank God and hallelujah.
Now I have my group of sanemakers that help me figure out what the hell just happened and why. While I’m still usually on my own for an action plan on what to do about it, at least I have some support along the way.
Still, I am sometimes subject to more subtle sniping attacks. People that interrupt me/shut me down when I think I’m safe expressing how I really feel about a situation, people that literally ignore a boundary I just set down, people that say they will do one thing and in so doing create a host of additional problems for me.
There’s a TV show called House of Lies that I watch because I love both Don Cheadle and Kristin Bell. It’s dark and usually focuses on people being the best at being their worst selves. Even so, sometimes glimmers of wisdom appear though phrased in dark, nasty ways. In an episode I watched last night (it’s 2/18 as I write this) Joanie (Kristin Bell) is in a pool with a client who has just been ousted from his own company. She tells him, “You always know you’ve accomplished something when people try to erase you. You do something great, they tell you how it’s not that great, how it’s not really your accomplishment, how it could have been done better. That’s how you know you’re really doing something.”