Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Does this make me look like an ass?" A lesson in filtered friendships

From working in retail and food service, to attempting high-maintenance friendships, I've come across a wide variety of complainers, drama queens and "victims". They're at your workplace, school, social gatherings, everywhere. You can't avoid them. In some cases, you may even feel the need to "fix" them, sans-PHD.

But not all complainers come in one neat little package. There's a wide array I've encountered, and with each new venture, I've found a new way to deal with it. In most cases, the relationship ends. In reality, I'm a "fixer" until this person starts taking more of my energy than my own kids. I've got one success story, but you'll have to go to the end to find out who.

"The glass is half full...of Arsenic!"
These people are tricky. You don't know what you're in for until they've got you tied up by your toenails. They come off as pretty level headed. You can generally get along with them at work in small doses because, sure, we all have bad days. But when you delve into their personal life, you realize, "They're all out to get you." Conspiracy theorists and divorcees often fall under this category. Mention of "Big Brother" is a dead-giveaway. Or, "The ex needs money for the kids' new shoes, but I'm sure he'll just buy something stupid," is a frequent conversation starter.

Overall, these people are relatively harmless. They spew, rant and rave, but they're pretty good at keeping it in the right place at the right time, if such a thing exists. I've maintained relationships with these people because I make a point to not spend more than an hour one-on-one with these people. A few hours in a group setting is relatively harmless, unless they're a Tyra. Read on.

"Well I just looooove everything! Especially ME!" - The Tyra Complex
I wouldn't put these folks under a 'complainer' status, but they can be mixed with several of the other levels of "victim"/drama queen.

Say you're out to dinner with an "Arsenic" person. They asked for their steak medium-well, and they receive a medium-rare. To ask the server to have steak cooked a while longer is fair, with a certain level of tact and respect. But, the conversation turns to, "You know, eating a steak that isn't properly cooked can KILL you!" This is the remainder of the evening's conversation. You now have an Arsenic/Tyra on your hands. You poor bastard.

Straight-up Tyra's are simply called narcissistic. As Eddie Izzard stated, a narcissist is pretty much someone who stands in front of the mirror and says, "God, I'd love to have sex with myself." If you choose to befriend a Tyra, you should either be A) Quiet. B) Also a Tyra. If you fall in-between A and B, you're screwed. Get new friends.

"Nobody's done a damn thing for me. Why should I bother?"
These are the toughest nuts to crack. You get the complete package with a "Why should I bother?" This person has been "victimized" from birth, they exaggerate their level of persecution, and they refuse to shut up about it. An added bonus; they can't keep track of who they told which exaggeration to.

While these people seem to be the worst energy-vampires, they've seemed to be the most common in my adult life. I feel like Lucy from the Peanuts gang sitting in my booth. The most recent case I've encountered was actually a combo Arsenic/Tyra/Victim. She had a rough childhood, she's on federal assistance which is constantly out to screw her, and damned if we weren't going to go an hour without hearing about it. My current circle of level-headed, fabulous friends took her in, and she pretty much made her rounds until everyone was exhausted. Concerns were discussed and it was determined we needed a break, and she voluntarily left. Months later she returned, apparently developing a bout of amnesia of the previous discussions, and much to her shock, we were "all talking shit about her behind her back". This person has no desire, correction, she doesn't think she needs any changes in her mental situation. We tried, we gave her a second chance, and it is done. If you have a PHD in psychology, have at. If not, run. Period.

"Tinkerbell is my homegirl."
These people are simply a hoot. But it sucks to have to rely on them. These people live in a fantasy world, where fiction is fact. "No, really, Robert Pattinson and I are BFF's! He friend-ed me on Facebook!" *face-palm*

These people manage to slip through the cracks as healthy, sane people. They obtain positions of leadership, then their fantasy world comes out. Now, we all have our own interests and hobbies outside of the workplace, and I won't stop anyone from having them. Even if you like - epic sigh - Twilight. But you tend to lose respect of your peers when you're in your thirties truly believing every celebrity you "friend" on FaceCrack is a genuine friend. You also lose a bit of credibility when you're weeping over your dying grandmother when she's been sick since you were learning the multiplication table. (Rest in peace, Grandma.)

Basically, these people don't have much going for them, so they need to create this world where they have friends and power to feel valuable. I've managed to tolerate these folks by simply patting them on the back saying "Ok, sweetie. Have fun with that."

"I've got baggage, but I'm a bellhop, so it's cool."
Lots of people come with baggage. It's how one builds character. It's how you handle that baggage that determines your level of drama. Here comes my success story.

A gentleman came into my life via karaoke about eight years ago. We knew a lot of the same people in town (duh, it's Sheboygan), he was recently divorced with two children, and quite honestly, he wasn't a very good parent, or spouse for that matter. We built a relationship with plenty of ups and downs, battled trust issues, etc. He accepted several flaws, many of which involved his kids, some of which involved relationships with the opposite sex, and we now have a happy marriage.

Baggage does not a "victim" make. With a Bellhop, desire to change must come from within. Often times they've gone through phases of Arsenic, Tyra, Why, and even Tinkerbell. But they remained phases that were needed to develop into a whole person. Baggage can be left behind when a person is ready. Or, they can open it, take out what doesn't serve them, and put the rest in storage. These people, while they accept their fate, also acknowledge life is worth living, and lugging shit around will just slow it down.

In all of the above cases, no one can fix a person but themselves. If you want to take someone on, you have my blessing, whatever my blessing is worth to you. Many simply don't want to be fixed, or they're in such deep denial they don't think they need outside assistance. They may be happy where they're at, whatever their definition of happy may be. All I can say is, it takes all kinds to make the world turn.


Anonymous said...

No, but one thing is a fact....we all are vampires in some way shape or form.....I wonder if people turn their backs on others that suck their energy because they are not getting the energy they wanted initially .......its all give and take and not many people are balanced enough yet to understand taking energy in a healthy manor. So here you go here is some of my energy.

Spyral said...

That's interesting. I agree that we're all vampires of some sort, but I believe in "fairly take and fairly give". I've sucked energy from friends several times, but I'm more than willing to give it back when they need it. My issue is when one takes and takes and takes, but doesn't show willingness to give back.