Or, how to make a strength out of a (perceived) weakness.
If you read my past post about my gifted scientist friend V., you know that I was pretty miffed when she named kindness and patience as my most admirable qualities. It felt more like an insult than a compliment, actually. However, many conversations (and a heap of drama) later, I have come to the conclusion that kindness and patience might indeed be my strengths, at least in dealings with V.
V. is… not an easy person to deal with. She is direct to the point of being plain rude, her trust issues* are basically screaming for therapy, and despite being in the 99th percentile of the IQ scale (AKA a genius) her most prominent talent is making an enemy of virtually everyone she meets. I’m saying this not to dis her, for (most of the time) I actually like her. It’s simply my observation.
(*Missing an appointment with her because of actual, physical illness -like the flu- makes her call you a “liar”, a “traitor”, an “immoral little shit” and a number of other endearing things. Seeing you befriended someone on FB who is friends with someone who hates her (very hard to avoid, given the amount of people she has a feud with) makes her jump into irrational rage. I could go on. She really has a problem. x_x )
One of the things she does when she gets irrational and paranoid with me, is trying to get me angry with her, trying to push me away. She tries to make me betray/insult/abandon/etc… her, so she can see her twisted view of people confirmed once again and add another notch to her people-who-hate-me belt. I’m not sure if she does this consciously, but that’s what I think is behind it. And that’s where the patience and kindness come in.
You see, I know her game. And I’m not going to play it.
Every time I give her a perfectly rational answer to an irrational accusation, every time I don’t follow her into a rage, every time I am perfectly polite and worried and caring despite her behavior… I deny her the satisfaction of seeing her views confirmed. (And that is very frustrating, trust me.)
Not to mention that I am nice to her. I actually like her, her being the person below the untreated psych issues. My kindness is always genuine, if a little strained sometimes. And she isn’t always irrational, so when she looks back on our conversations… she has to face her own behavior. (Another frustrating thing, truly.)
If she decides to break contact with me because she can’t deal with the frustration, it’ll be in the knowledge that it’s because of her own weakness, for I will never have said anything unkind or dishonest to her. And knowing V., who hates to admit defeat to her own flaws more than anything, this will not happen any time soon.
As long as I refuse to play V.’s game, I will have her respect. Because she knows as much as I do now that she can never “win” as long as I maintain my current position. She doesn’t admire patience and kindness as qualities in themselves, she admires the impasse I have placed her in by using them, like an army commander might be impressed by a clever move of the enemy.
Social interaction is warfare. And kindness and patience? They’re weapons of war like any other.
Honestly, V. is not a very good friend. But she is probably the best enemy I’ve ever had, and I dearly hope to keep her. #NewExperiment?