I bumped in to a friend today at the local Coles. Actually, no. Scrap that. She's not really a 'friend'. More a past acquaintance. A friend of a friend at best.
I met her through my friend, Rachel*. Right from the start I found her unusual. She never seemed a very genuine person. It seems, with whatever she had to say, there was some hidden agenda behind it.
She eventually dated my ex-boyfriend. Now you could be forgiven for thinking I was bitter about that, hence my impression of her. But no. That wasn't the case at all. By the time they got together...in fact - some time even before that - I was very much over my ex. Very much. I had more than moved on. Our relationship had never really been very good (you can read more about it here), so it was a relief more than anything when it ended.
But I have a feeling she didn't think so.
The ex and I still socialised, because his friends were my friends and vice versa. And neither of us wanted to give that up. And so, one night, I found myself at a bar with some friends, including my ex, Jeff and his girlfriend - my 'friend'.
She approached me. We made small talk for about five minutes, before she suddenly said, "Things are going really well with Jeff* and I." "Hmm," I responded, not really listening. I didn't feel comfortable around her, and I was looking for an excuse to leave her side. And then she said, "The sex is really good. He says it's great." I stopped. For a second, I thought perhaps she felt comfortable enough with me or something to confide in me. And then I looked at her face. She was smirking. She thought, I'm quite certain, that she was ruffling my feathers. And in a way, she was. But not how she intended. It was at that moment I realised something about her: she was insecure, and was trying to make herself feel better about herself, by attempting to insult me. To be honest, I think she felt threatened by me. And in a way, yes, I can see how she might be uncomfortable about an ex-girlfriend hanging around. But did that make it ok for her to attempt to put me down?
And it wasn't just me who experienced her remarks, underlined with spite. She was like this with many. She was just one of those people who took pleasure in making people feel bad. It made her feel better to see others in pain. Unfortunately people like her exist. And they're toxic.
Years later, she moved to Sydney, but I never caught up with her. Rachel would visit me, and then visit her, but we never made plans together. Until Rachel also moved to Sydney for a while. Then she organised a dinner. By then we were all married with children and much time had passed. I thought it perhaps possible that she would be different. Less uptight. Happier. More secure.
I was wrong.
It wasn't long before she was making the same sort of comments she always had. Slightly snide remarks that, perhaps to the 'untrained' ear could be construed as innocent. This time, it was her remark about birth. She'd had a cesarean and made a comment about it being a "safer birth option than a natural birth." She then said, "At least I won't have incontinence issues when I'm older." And then came the smirk. She knew both Rachel and I had had 'natural' births.
I'm not sure why she felt she had to justify her cesarean, but it's obvious to me that she did. I don't get when people do that. It wasn't a choice for her in the end anyway, and even if it had been - whatever. It's her body. Her choice. But it was obvious that she felt some need to "justify" it. And the only way she could do that, in her mind, was to put the rest of us down in some way in order to do so.
So when I ran in her today, I made a point of being nice. Asking after her family. Asking if she'd spoken to Rachel lately. I kept it light. Get in, get out - that was my aim. We were saying our goodbyes when she suddenly brought up that she had visitors coming. I made the passing comment in sympathy that it's a lot of extra work at times. And then she said, "Oh, well we have a granny flat. They stay in there. We hear nothing. It's right past the pool, so it's great."
Now to most, that's just a comment that's nothing out of the ordinary. But not from this girl. I knew what she was trying to say to me: "I really am doing well. Look at me! A house. A granny flat. A pool! I'm doing ok!"
You know what? I felt sorry for her. It was as if, in the short conversation we had today, she had to find some other way to prove to me (but really, to herself) that she was worthy.
If I didn't find her so frustratingly difficult, I'd almost want to help her. Better things to do with my time, I'm afraid. But one thing I know for sure: she hasn't changed, and quite frankly, it's not my problem.
Ever had someone in your life like this? What did you do? How did you deal with it?
Until next time...
* Names have been changed.