I was tired and thought to take a nap this afternoon/early evening, but my body apparently thought otherwise. I tossed and turned, recited poetry in my head, counted up to 100 and back down to 1, etc., but no dice. And for some reason I began thinking about something that happened to me half a lifetime ago, back when I was only about thirteen. It was basically your typical adolescent argument between two girls, but I think it was telling.
I had gotten to be friends online with this somewhat older (sixteen-ish) girl from Singapore — I’ll just call her N. Obviously we never actually met in person, but we did talk on the phone once or twice, we emailed each other frequently, and we both followed and posted on the same message board. I sent her short stories I wrote to ask her opinion of them, as N. was quite a fine writer herself.
Then, some months into our relationship, she got mad at me.
I realized her behavior towards me had changed and I asked her, basically: “N., you are doing this and that and it makes me think you’re mad at me for some reason. Have I done something to offend you?”
N. replied: No, absolutely not, I had done nothing to offend her and she was not angry with me; I was imagining things.
I was skeptical of this response, and became even more so when another week passed and N. was still acting as if I’d done something wrong. So I confronted her a second time: “N., I know you’re mad at me about something. Please tell me what I did, so I can fix it.”
This time her response was: Yes, she had been mad at me before, but she wasn’t anymore, and she couldn’t even remember the reason why; it must have been over something stupid.
I really didn’t know what to do with that. I didn’t believe her second answer any more than I believed her first, but I couldn’t figure out a way out of the situation, and hadn’t the slightest idea why N. was behaving this way. I sent her message saying something to the effect of “Well, if that’s all you’re going to to tell me, then fine.” I carried on like nothing had happened, because it was the only thing I could think of to do.
About two weeks later, N. absolutely exploded at me on the aforementioned message board where we both hung out a lot. In public messages, so everyone could read them, she said horrible things about me, said I was a childish attention-seeking brat who was using her, etc etc etc. And I finally found why N. was mad at me: it was the stories I sent her to read. She thought I was only friends with her so I could get tips from her on how to write well. Unfortunately, by the time I figured this all out, it was too late. N. and I never spoke to each other again.
(A quite similar incident happened with another online friend in late 2008, with the same results. But that’s quite another story.)
I have been given to understand that this sort of thing is more common than otherwise — that people will do just about anything except own up to being mad at you about something you did. It makes no sense to me. Somehow “getting mad at someone, not telling them you’re mad, lying when they confront you, and then publicly shaming them and dumping them for doing that thing which they had no idea was ticking you off all along” is the usual way of things. But why?
If N. had told me earlier about her feelings, we could have worked it out and she would have realized I was NOT using her. But she wouldn’t tell me, and wouldn’t tell me, and wouldn’t tell me, although I gave her several opportunities to do so. Rather than telling me the truth about what was bothering her, instead she flushed a perfectly good friendship down the toilet.
I don’t understand people at all. This is why I prefer the solace of my books and my computer. People tell lies so often. They teach you when you’re little that “honesty is the best policy” but then go around lying to everybody they meet. I ask people not to act like that around me: “If I am bothering you, say so, and say why. It’s the only way I can learn social skills.” And everyone promises to do this, promises not to tell lies to me, and about 95% of the time they lie to me anyway.
I guess it’s one of the problems I came with.