Soul sucking pastimes – the friendship vortex


Do you ever have that one friend who can’t seem to get out of her own way and move on in life, and yet she keeps dragging you back, harshing your mellow?

There was a shy young woman in high school.  She wanted to see the world, and do it via the army band, and by playing her clarinet all over the world.

She got recruited.

She got sent to music school to improve her knowledge, all while continuing her army-specific training, outside of music.  She tried her best, but didn’t make the cut and was moved into the regular army.  A typical Judy Benjamin of “Private Benjamin” experience.  However, unlike Judy, her ability to plan and dream disappeared.

Somehow, she didn’t bounce back from the change in plans, and she lost herself.

She was stationed in Germany, one of the safest overseas assignments, and as one of the first regular army female recruits, so one would think she should have been able to use this experience as a stepping stone to more, despite the setback.

Instead, she became pregnant (a scandal in those days – the 1980’s), was drummed out of the service, and married the father of her child.  Eventually, he left the service and they moved to some dusty little town in Texas, where she kept having babies and lives the backward life of some unliberated, 1950’s era housefrau, without a mind of her own, and without the ability to find a backbone and build a life for herself.


Into all of this comes facebook, her only lifeline (apparently) to the outside world.  A typical private message reads as follows (without paragraphs, which makes it hard to read and even harder to digest):


I love her for who she used to be, but certainly can’t get a grasp on who she is today, beyond the most banal of mental images:


I mean, her situation is so unhealthy, she doesn’t even share a bedroom with her (now handicapped) husband, who rules the roost like an all-knowing, all-controlling terrorist.  Her own thoughts seem to be a jumbled mass of “I’m not worthy” followed by some domestic tale where she’s at the beck and call of either the tyrant or her grown-*ss children (who also live with them) and grandchildren.


It’s maddening, because I have a bad habit of wanting to help, and I can’t do so because this is unfixable without her own participation and ability to ennunciate what she wants.  And follow up consistently on any decisions she’s made.

So, I get sucked into the vortex of being an untrained peer counselor, inexperienced in her particular domestic living situation, and sucked into the vortex of her frustration with life because she keeps telling me about it, and I keep trying to help.  When I’m clearly unqualified, even if I mean well.

Sometimes, I just wish life came with instructions.

As for today, this Dr is signing off that conversation and moving on with her morning vs. staying stuck in the soul and time-sucking vortex of conversation this friend seens to create.

*** I am not a lawyer or a licensed therapist, I just play one on fb and wordpress ***

3 thoughts on “Soul sucking pastimes – the friendship vortex

  1. Just sad. It’s all so very SAD. No woman who was raised in ‘our’ generation SHOULD be stuck in such a scenario, but I know two or three of them myself. It’s my culture though. I don’t know what went wrong in her life, but she clearly can’t get out of her own way. And she CHOSE what she’s living. How do I know? Because I did my own version of her story myself. Felt that being a ‘good wife’ was a priority over taking care of myself. Eventually though, what happens is that because there’s nothing left of “you”, everyone else around you (husband, children, pets, friends) begins to suffer because you don’t have anything left to give to them. No wonder she doesn’t share a bedroom with her spouse. If it’s as you say and he’s “in charge” and no arguments about it, it becomes horrifying to think of having to share ALL your time with such a being. Again, personal experience here. And what can you, the unpaid counselor do about it? Stop getting sucked in. Sounds harsh, but that’s all there is to it. Listening is one thing, and clearly the woman needs a sounding board and someone who is impartial to HEAR her, but trying to fix that? Nope. Can’t be done. SHE has to fix it. Alone. By herself. I know that because I had two ‘close’ friends of mine have to walk away and leave me to find my way out of my own mess. Until your friend grows some gonads of her own she will continue to feel and be a non-entity and doormat for anyone who cares to wipe their feet on her. Sad. As I said, just sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OH! And the thing I forgot to write when I was busy hijacking your blog again was that you have to give her a little slack on the Happy Homemaker bit. We (women of our generation) got metaphorically screwed on that front. I don’t know about you (your mom sounds more modern than mine was) but I was raised all my life to think of marriage and children and that whole thing as my ‘career.’ I should know how to bake and cook and sew and keep house. I even got a housekeeping manual for my 18th birthday. It molders in my cedar chest. Then when I graduated high school – SURPRISE!!! Suddenly women had business careers (not just teaching or librarians or nurses) they had careers as truck drivers and doctors and mechanics and pilots. They did all the stuff men did and some of them did it better than the men. And it left women like me wondering WTF happened? I was TRAINED, TAUGHT and TOLD I was supposed to be somebody’s wife and they were supposed to take care of ME, not the other way ’round. It can make one a bit mixed up to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you.

    I was given the same upbringing that you were, BUT… due to my surgeries, I also got “Plan B” because I was 11 when women’s lib kicked in, and the divorce started. It took 5 years for the divorce to be finalized, which also helped to keep my eyes open to hedge my bets.

    Plus, refurbished. Unpretty. It’s slways good to have a backup plan when that’s your reality.

    I’m sorry you lost your friendships, and hope you’ll try them again someday. They may be abke to be the friends you deserve, now that the circumstances have changed.


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