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When the bad person eats the good one inside

March 9, 2013

There are people who unfortunately had bad childhoods because of their dysfunctional parents (A dead giveaway and when they describe their parents as objects, instead of saying my Mom and Dad, they will flatly say, ‘Mother and Father’). And there’s a point in their life where they can CHOOSE to break the cycle or become their parents or not. When the bad person wins, they treat anyone who requires them to give of themselves by turning on them, or shut down. Usually, these are the friends we have in our group everyone tolerates, and the person usually doesn’t have anyone in their life, most live for work, or compartmentalize their relationships.These people are unable to apologize for themselves or honestly share their emotions. They are usually rule followers. And when people around them have difficulties they take a perverse delight in watching them struggle instead of helping them. In other words. they won’t tolerate others the way others tolerated them.

When I was going through chemo, a person who had been to our house for every Christmas and Thanksgiving, never extended themselves to help me or celebrate my recovery. When he was confronted by his behavior, he shut us out, and never apologized. His behavior was hurtful. He didn’t even consider the pain he caused us, instead, he became indignant and saw himself as the wronged one. And the irritating thing about this behavior is there’s no closure, because the person himself has never achieved closure. And after her hurt us, we looked back over the years and saw many incidents that indicated the bad person was taking over. He became cheap, never drove us anywhere (we always drove him), got angry if we took a picture of him (but never offered to use our camera to take a picture opf us) never took us anywhere (we took him), in the morning he drank all the coffee and never made another pot and never went out to get rolls or a Sunday paper (instead I’d see him sitting at the table reading the paper on his cellphone, and he’d be snitty because he was either hungover or mad about whatever)  and he never pet our animals (he jabbed at them and oddly, purchased a mechanical animal that he kept in his apartment) and when he drank he did it to the point where he was oblivious, and we wound up walking around him like he was a mine field. It was a solid progression.He was treating us the way his parents treated him. Even one of his Christmas present illustrated this: he gave my wife a “half year” subscription to a newspaper. A half year. Then on Christmas day, he announced he was leaving at two in the afternoon because he had things to do the next day. On Christmas! A day when you’re supposed to give of yourself and be thankful to the people around you. That was the final blow. We were relieved when he left.

Over time, we realized we were enabling his behavior in many ways, and felt that what was once an enlivening friendship, had become a passive-aggressive one, where we became victims in a battered and abusive relationship. He was treating us like his parents treated him. And we did nothing to deserve this. When he visited us, our happy home became dysfunctional because was completely built around ignoring his shortcomings.

What’s funny, is when we were struggling, and we both lost our jobs, he stopped coming by because we “weren’t doing anything.” It was his turn to help us, but I believed his rule mentality prevented him from giving, as if he was teaching us a lesson. But he didn’t mind being around for the best parts of our lives. So he created another friendship with another family, buying them front-row seats for shows, mailing sweaters, Tiffany key chains, etc. My guess is he posed with them in photographs and probably brought food for dinner and helped with breakfast or things around the house. Things he never did for us. He was creating another world, which is fine. But this was on his terms, and in a way was something to brag about. But regardless of this behavior he could never tell these people he never helped us when we were down, or abandoned us when I had cancer. So he’s building another person on a lie.

And going through cancer somehow has made me feel sorry for him. I’m not mad at him, hurt yes. One time he was talking about how he drove with this other family to Sacramento (a long drive) to look over business locations, and I thought about how I was getting chemo at the hospital and he couldn’t get in his car and drive to see me (a closer drive)–that’s hard to forgive.  And the only time I get mad is thinking how he hurt my wife, because they were childhood friends, and he turned on her, and showed no gratitude toward how she and her Mom shared their home and gave him the semblance of a happy home. He spit on this. And that does get me mad.

But in truth, he is a person straddling a fault line, and the crack is widening, and he will fall into it. Sometimes people never hit bottom. All they do is fall.

And you know what? We’d be there to catch him.

But we might let him bounce off the bottom once.

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