Today i bumped into an old friend as i was happily skipping my way back from the gym to a very catchy upbeat song and i have to admit i was in an awfully good mood. Seeing she looked tired i asked how she was and enquired after her baby which i knew was a big mistake given past history. This particular friend is never happy and when i say never i really do mean NEVER. She is very self pitying and has more than a little tendency to make self derisory comments because she loves the attention and the fussing she gets from people who rush to console her.
For a very long time i was a major one of these people and would daily drop everything and go rushing over as each crisis presented itself and spend hours dispensing positivity and praise in her direction to make her feel better about herself. Like any good friend i helped with self esteem and advised on diet when she complained she was fat (which was daily) yet never did she heed any of it and seemed to thrive on running herself down for attention. I wanted to help for i genuinely believed she had poor self image but over time i could not fail to notice she was often incredibly mean in reference to other people.
Many a time in some public setting she would loudly and gleefully pass criticism on some poor unfortunate passer by , fully aware that the people could often hear her. My horrified reprimands would be ignored and she would laugh uproariously, finding the whole situation incredibly amusing. No amount of reasoning would make her stop and i began to come to the conclusion that she was either genuinely nasty or simply did so to make herself feel better. This aside i found it was not a situation i was at all happy with and eventually we parted as friends for i am not a person who is at all comfortable with causing distress and upset to others.
Time passed and never did she change. Those traits so displayed in my company continued and grew upon a social networking site and i shook my head as others replaced me to pander to her needs. Perhaps this behaviour was so ingrained that she has no hope of ever changing, i do not know but still the part of me that was her friend cannot help but wish that she had accepted genuine help rather than settling for just attention. We passed in the street and i am nothing if not polite, always a hello and a smile would be offered in her direction yet i was not so keen to renew the acquaintance.
Lately i confess we have talked more and recently i rolled my eyes in resignation as she leered over a photograph of my boyfriend and the typical crude comments came forth. As usual i did not comment, i have found it better to stay silent and make a hasty exit these days. So encountering her again today i enquired as to how she was and stifled a sigh as she began the oh so familiar self pity and self annihilation and wondered briefly whether to offer sympathy since she seems to need it so. As she focused her self hatred upon her weight i consoled and offered help but swiftly wished i hadn’t as she snapped at me
”Its alright for you, you skinny cow, You look okay YOURE not fat and ugly”
To say i was speechless was a bit of an understatement for she knows full well how overweight i was and how hard i have worked to get to where i am now. Years ago we had even started the gym/ diet journey together but she chose not to carry on where i doggedly persisted. I guess some people you really just cannot help and i shook my head and made my excuses to leave. I had nothing to say and no sympathy to pour upon her wounds and for once my kindly nature had totally run dry.
Musing some time later i realised she is far from the only person i know who behaves this way. Some not so self loathing but still with the propensity to mock others and render critical opinions where often they should keep quiet. I have always believed if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all and i firmly adhere to this principle. The world is harsh enough at many a time, do we really need to be making it worse. Perhaps a little think before you speak would be something we could all use a bit of.
So, do you feel better now?