Just because it rhymes doesn’t mean people should always be friends to the end. Sure, “friends until the point you stop enriching each other’s lives” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it makes more sense. I’m all for being amicable and great with people, but one has to remember that relationships end. And, oh, what is right for oneself? That pesky number one.
I ran into an old friend with whom I’d had an ugly falling out some years ago. And when we saw each other it had been so long we just talked like old times and silently buried the hatchet (not in each other’s skulls). I had another situation with an ex-friend who came back into my life as well. I could remember the event, but couldn’t pinpoint what had happened to make me feel so wronged when the rift happened.
I keep thinking about Season 1, Episode 3 of Chef’s Table which shows Francis Mallmann’s life of freedom in Patagonia and his travels. People have a lot to say about Mallmann (and his parenting style), but as a recovering people pleaser, I appreciate the ability to emulate his integrity and candor, if only a little.
Mallmann says: “I seldom invite people to have lunch or dinner with me, but they’re really chosen, because I can’t spend time with people that I don’t enjoy. I can’t do it anymore as theater. I make choices and that’s a beautiful thing about growing up: learning to say no. In a nice way, you say no. I have this friend of mine, he was on the land in fact 30 years ago when we first started, and we parted, we just went different ways in our lives. Once he came back to me and he said, ‘Francis, you don’t like me anymore.’ And I said, ‘No, it’s not that I don’t like you, we’ve chosen different styles of life. I still have these beautiful souvenirs of all the things we did together, and how close we were and so on, but the truth is, it’s not that you bore me, but I don’t enjoy talking to you anymore. And I don’t want to fight with you, but you know, there’s nothing in common between your life and mine nowadays.’ I would have never said that to him, but he asked me, so what could I say? I said the truth. But you know, growing up has a bit to do with that. To be able to tell the truth. To show who you are. Even if it hurts.”
I also appreciate this, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer: “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”
Scoop that up in your people-pleasing spork and chew on it. I certainly am. Doesn’t it make sense to consider our own integrity at least as much as other people’s feelings? Maybe it’s the path to not being codependent. Truth, integrity, more meaningful relationships (and happier meals).
(This Full Frontal column originally appeared in the Newport Mercury.)
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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