A couple nights ago I got a drunken midnight phonecalll from an old friend whose drinking became the reason I put some distance between us over the past three years, along with some unsettling messages he had sent (also usually at night, drunk) where he was both insulting me, saying that my brain was too slow to comprehend him, and begging for my help with something I could not possibly have helped him with.
I ignored the midnight call and it was followed by a voicemail and a thread of unsettling Instagram messages that seemed like a kind of emotional crisis.
I didn’t answer them.
I feel guilty and I can hear so clearly both sides of the argument about whether I should have responded.
- You never abandon old friends, especially if they’re in some kind of spiral or crisis.
- You need to distance yourself from the people for whom there’s no help to be given, whose self-destruction threatens to absorb you.
Now, today, there’s another situation just like it. I’m being implored to reach out and offer solace to somebody who, yes, has fallen on hard times–but someone who also purposefull humiliated me, back over the holidays, and from whom I’ve received no apology for that humiliation.
It sounds so silly and petty when i spell it out so plainly. Truth is, there’s no apology that would sound sincere enough. I know that I’ll never let this grudge go because I never let any of them go. I’m not particularly vengeful, but I’m hypersensitive to insult and I’m way too quick to just shut down and cut people out of my life.
My reasoning for going on with the silent treatment is that if I don’t make it clear to people that I’m not going to tolerate a relationship in which I’m habitually and flagrantly disresepcted, the disrespect is likely to continue.
But maybe it’s just the case that there are some relationships where, yes, that is the dynamic. That the bonds are deep and worthy of preservation even if 40% of what you get out of the relationship is frustration, humiliation, indignity of some sort or other.
Of course, there’s no right answer to this. It’s just a question of how you want to live your life.Today I was watching a movie from 1971 called The Devils. part of it takes place in a nunnery. When one aspiring nun is insulted by one of her superiors (is that what they’re called?), and storms away at the indignity, the older nun calls after her, “I see you still suffer from one sin: pride,” whereupon the younger nun goes ambling shamefully back to her abuser.
I started looking at my behavior here as senselessly prideful. I’m trying to make a point about my self-respect to people who don’t care about my self-respect, don’t care about me, but from whom it’d create such a headache to totally cut ties that, ahdunno, I guess I should just stick around and let shit slide.