The Little Birds Fly

Down to the Calico Sea

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50 Day Question Challenge 2017 - Day 8
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8. What is the worst emotional pain that you’ve ever experienced?

Losing my father - I don't think I have gotten over the way that he passed away, even if it was brief and (hopefully) painless.

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Strangely, though we were best pals, losing my Dad in May seemed… Well, though the final decline was very rapid, it was time to go. I accepted that and it hasn't been as painful as I feared. The ongoing political trainwreck, however, is causing me endless distress and I am wishing that even an old schoolfriend could be given a taste of the 'National Razor' because I will never, ever forgive her. Even if we trundle along on superficialities (chatting about fandoms & c), I will never trust her again.

What happened re your friend?

Having moved back to the city in which I grew up, I recently lunched with a former schoolfriend, whom I hadn't seen for about 30 years, though we'd exchanged a few emails, letters & c. She had voted Leave (as had around two-thirds of the local population). I asked her why. She claimed she felt she was "not allowed to be English" – referring to Equal Opportunities forms having tick-boxes for "British", "Scottish", "Irish" – but not "English". "But the design of these is nothing to do with the EU," I countered. Then she claimed the EU was dominated by France and Germany, "and they've tried this before", she added ominously. "Oh, I still like going on holiday there – and elsewhere – just not being ruled by them." So far, all by-the-book Brexitspeak. "And it's all very well for you – you're allowed to be Scottish. But we're not allowed to be English."

I despair. I left Hull for university in the early '80s; bar a few years in the early '90s, I lived in Scotland, only returning this year because of family circumstances. She has never studied or lived elsewhere. I couldn't get a word in to say I now reject all nationalisms (including the Scottish nationalism of my younger days) because it seems absurd in an internet-connected world in which we can build affinities based on shared interests and ideas, not geographical proximity or historical accidents of past statehood. What saddens me most is her blaming the EU for UK governmental failures. One of these is the unequal implementation of devolution in 1997, privileging historical states above equality of numbers, and ignoring England entirely. This was and is immoral (I now regret supporting devolution as then offered, because I had naïvely hoped it would be implemented in more egalitarian fashion) – but has nothing to do with the EU.

In the end, we chatted blandly about science fiction and historical fandoms, but I sense that, at heart, we are very different people with very little in common in terms of world-view. Perhaps we always were, and this has just brought it to the surface. She wanted "to be allowed to be English" – but no-one was stopping her. I regard myself as primarily European: brought up on Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology, with a passion for European literature and history. And I will never forgive her for taking from me, against my will, the only part of my citizenship that reflected who I am, intellectually, imaginatively, culturally. There is no way back from that.

I have a friend, who is possibly the very opposite for what I stand for. I think originally, I just didn't have strong enough views to challenge or counteract their claims. Now I am older, I found their views quite odious and recently, the scales fell from my eyes. Their lack of understanding and compassion floored me and I realised I had chosen to see them as I had wanted to see them. In truth, if I had hooked up with them for the first time TODAY, then I would personally have nothing to do with them.

Time and distance may heal things, but in my case, it cleaves things too - thankfully.

Yes, I think that's now my position. I've often tended to try to sustain friendships past their sell-by date because I never had many friends and was bullied a lot when I was a child. But I think now I'm strong enough to draw a line under things. I think it's also the case that while what brings you together as a child/adolescent (fandoms, literary interests & c) may still be there, life-experiences change you in other ways, and sometimes the differences are too great.

In some respects, they have been a great teacher in a way that maybe no one else could. They certainly taught me more about myself and my relationship with others. It also showed me what I didn't want to be and that it was more important to me that I remained who I was, rather than follow them and end up as a duff pastiche of the. For that, I am grateful (though I would never tell them). However, that is drawing to a close now. It is excellent timing that they also happening to be moving away. I feel for the first time in a long time that I have will be free.

That's true! Although in my case, it's moving back that's been the catalyst – and seeing what happened to someone who never left town.

Also, I went through something similar about 11 years ago with a friendship breaking after about 20 years. I'm not always quick at picking up cues re: what other people are thinking/feeling, and it's shattering to discover that they've been merely "tolerating" you for years.

Yes - I can remember you saying this in a previous post. You can well do without patronising/condescending 'friends' like that.

I think my Aspie-ness, unfortunately, played into it, in that I didn't pick up on signals that should have rung warning-bells long before.

I was considered 'naive' and my fairly good-natured behaviour made others think I was an idiot. I still get that a bit now. Because I am quiet in conversation, they think I have nothing to say. So, I tend to be a bit stand off ish to most, until they get to know me.

I was told (at 40) that "I still had a lot of growing up to do". Which made me rather regret I was too grown up to smack the person in question in the teeth.

Ha ha - I was only saying this to John earlier, that my manners were the thing that held me back from saying things that in hindsight should have been said. Maybe there is truth in the old saying that diplomats have no friends - just splinters in their bum from sitting on the fence for too long.

I lost both parents within 5 weeks of each other - it was a very traumatic and confusing time. Thankfully I pulled through. Time is a great healer.

Oh, how awful! I lost my Da in '83 and my mum in '00. Even so it feels like yesterday at times. *hgus*

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