Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When all the joy within you dies




It's not often I find something this good on Facebook. In fact, it's not often I find anything at all. I have learned to "unfriend" boring, draining and/or toxic people, but you can't see their ugly insides, at least not until much later, when they post something so casually offensive it makes your hair stand on end.

There's a special circle in hell for people with toxic relatives. These are practiced happiness-suckers who siphon the life out of you, then ask you why you look so drawn and tired.





These are the twisters - the emotional corkscrews who have a phenomenal way of turning their abusiveness around and insisting that you abused them. How dare you accuse me of being abusive!  Obviously you're vindictive, heartless, and a liar to boot (they inform you, while you slowly bleed to death from the corkscrew stuck in your heart). 

Oh. The happiness-suckers. Schoolteachers: you couldn't get away from THEM, could you? Their shaming tactics, their favoritism (merely a weapon to make the marginalized, persecuted kids feel even worse) their petty dictatorship to make up for the complete lack of satisfaction in their lives. 





Spouses. This can be exquisite torture that goes on for decades. I've known more than one widow who could barely disguise her glee at her husband's memorial service, then immediately booked the cruise she was never allowed to take while she was oppressed by a sour old tyrant.

But the worst is. . . this.

When it's your friend. A close friend. A friend you used to share so much with, it seemed you could almost read each other's thoughts. It can't go on that way forever, can it? It can't. Worlds go by, days and nights, and at some point, one of the two begins to fade.






Something is happening, a growing joylessness, a caving-in. The desperately hoping friend (thinking, surely if I just try harder I can re-set this) just amps up her attempts to connect, scouring the internet for links to things her friend used to be interested in. But there is never a response to any of it. If they connect at all it's on the phone, and those calls are nothing like the soul-deep, stimulating discussions they used to have. They're perfunctory, and the passive friend asks all the same questions over and over again, ostensibly to display her interest but in actuality so that she never has to talk at all.

But then there are the longer emails. What are these about? People she does not know and does not care to know, the small-town small minds. Her friend frankly hates them, rants and seethes and spews bile, yet insists that she is always friendly with them and never says anything critical to them at all. Then signs off with, Thanks for listening, I feel so much better now!, the perfect hit-and-run.

The choked-off conversations become chronic, her acid criticism of everything and everyone acting like so much weed killer, destroyer of all enthusiasm.
Does she even realize what is going on? It might be like the proverbial frog in warm water, who does not notice the gradual increase in temperature until it is cooked.





Why does someone give up? Why does someone just accept their discontent and not fight against it, or not even acknowledge it or believe it's real? More to the point: why is this so draining to be around? Why is there a sense of a dusty drawer with nothing in it? 

Dead dreams are awfully inert, and posing is hollow. You can't hitch a Clydesdale to a race horse. But why does the race horse feel so bad? There is nothing more pathetic than a one-sided conversation, with one person running frantically back and forth hitting the ball from both sides of the net. It is humiliating; desperate. While the other person says nothing: not so much not caring as not even even noticing what is going on.





When you have been raised with silence and rejection as the norm (and by the way: the opposite of love isn't hate, as most people think, but indifference, just not caring one way or another), returning to it is agony. They say (and just who are "they" after all, a bunch of executioners?) that you invariably recreate the dynamics of your childhood in your adult relationships.

For years you play along, because for years you really did have a wonderful connection, but it dwindles and dwindles, and you feel a certain expectation to dwindle along with it. And you won't, because you can't. And then, when you finally do say something because you can't keep it to yourself any longer, you are subjected to disbelief (what are you talking about?), guilt, a sense of betrayal, a wounded (though perhaps never uttered) "how could you?" Or, even worse, an awful, artificial attempt to get the thing going again, inventing a sense of interest, asking after your dentist or the guy who fixes the roof. 





Life seems to kill some people, to steamroll them, but then again, some people's courage just collapses, and from then on they do life by rote. Risk nothing, gain nothing. And you realize you can't do it any more, especially not after you find out that your friend's husband casually hacked your emails and has been reading what you've been sending her. 

Friendship can be thrown into reverse, and it's an awful thing. It just hurts like hell, and of course YOU are seen as mean and selfish for claiming things are no longer satisfying. Bob Dylan said a couple of things - how is it Bob Dylan always knows how to hit it brilliantly on the head?: "He not busy being born is busy dying." And another one: "Her sin is her lifelessness."





After being destroyed in the fire of religion, I have no God left except life. But I know now that if you sin against life, there will be a cost.




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