Monday, July 02, 2007

Two types

Went to breakfast with an old friend today, someone I worked with many years ago, before I went completely insane. She fits neatly into one of two categories for the types of people I've always attracted into my life, male or female.

Type 1: Typically several years younger than me. They tell me they just felt an instant and overwhelming urge to be friends with me despite the fact that they all proclaim at a later date that they initial felt incredibly intimidated by me and felt that I hated them at first. They look up to me for some strange reason and love my "I don't give a shit what anyone else thinks about me" persona.

Type 2: Typically older than me, either by several years or even several decades. Very nurturing and caring. It's like they can sense that I am damaged and they want to take me under their wing and protect me from further harm. In relatively short order, they often make me a part of their extended family, inviting me to all their family gatherings.

What's weird is that I don't seek these people out. When I was working, or out in social situations, these people would come talk to me first. I'd never go up to anyone I didn't know and just start talking, that's not something I feel comfortable doing. Even now, with my social interactions severely limited to inpatient stays, therapy groups and involvement in mental health organizations like NAMI and DBSA, where I do my best not to draw any attention to myself, I invariably get approached by someone that fits one of these two categories.

The old friend I met with today is a type 2 person. She seemed genuinely concerned about all that's happened to me, but I felt the need to push away from that, kept changing the subject whenever she would bring up my mental health. It's not that I didn't want to discuss it with her, it was more a fear that she actually would try to take me under her wing and help me.

Why the fear? Because shortly after we both quit the company we'd worked together at, we lost contact. While we were out of contact her oldest child passed away at the age of 17 from a genetic condition her three kids all inherited. He was the only one of them that never showed any major symptoms until he suddenly fell ill one day. They rushed him to the hospital and after spending three weeks in ICU he succumbed to the disease.

I pushed her away because I know her type all too well and my fear is that if she learns too much, gets too close, she will eventually want to try to save me. I fear that subconsciouly it will be to make up for the fact that she couldn't save her son. I pushed away out of guilt that I have been so willing to end my own life, but yet her son, who desperately wanted to hold onto his wasn't able to. It's not fair.

She hadn't called me in 2002 when her son died, so I didn't find out until two years later when I called her while I was locked up in the hospital to tell her that our old boss, my surrogate father, had passed away. It hurts to know I wasn't able to be there for her during the most difficult time of her life. I was still relatively sane when it happened, as this was a year before my first hospitalization, so I would have been able to be emotionally available for her.

The plight of their family having three kids with the same rare disease had been chronicled in the local newspaper as a way to raise funds for medical costs and also to find possible bone marrow donors beginning around 1996 when her daughter first became ill. I was there through her daughter's battle for life because we still worked together at the time. Luckily they found a match and her daughter received a bone marrow transplant just in time. Had it not been successful, she would have lost her daughter too.

She gave me photocopies of the stories the paper ran about her son falling ill and his subsequent death, as well as a copy of the memorial card that was handed out at his funeral service. I didn't read them until I got home after our breakfast date and all I could do was cry.

We made plans to try and meet at least once a month for breakfast. To keep in touch. It'd be nice to have her back in my life because she is such a sweetheart, but I'm just so afraid, because she is a type 2, that she will unintentionally get sucked into the black hole that is my life. That's not something she needs, especially not with all that she's been through.

How do I set a boundary that says "we can be friends, but you can't become involved in my mental problems even if it's your nature to care and want to help"? Until I can figure that out, this friendship is going to have to be on hold. I won't allow her to get hurt.


Blogger MB said...

I tend to be quite a private person, so I have to set boundaries with new friends so they don't pry/question me when I'm feeling particularly low. It seems weird to them, but I do have to explain that it is for their benefit. When I'm having a depressive episode I'm no help to anyone, and only put others on a downer. It might be worth explaining to her how u feel about it? Once people know me well enough they know that when I say "I'm fine" I'm having a low day and to let me work it out. She may have her own boundaries to set.

Take care

3:37 PM, July 03, 2007  
Blogger sansanity said...

A nice card with what you said in your post written in it. I think she'd be touched by how much you care.

9:06 AM, July 04, 2007  
Blogger Polar Bear said...

I don't have any Type 1 friends, but I think I kinda attract Type 2 people.

8:02 PM, July 04, 2007  
Blogger Marie said...

I seem to attract type 2 people myself. I kind of like it because with age comes wisdom. I can learn some things from these folks.

Although the type 1 people can benefit from our experiences. So we may be classed as type 2 in their eyes.

11:39 PM, July 05, 2007  

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