I am on the phone with my friend. Our voices are raised and we are beyond frustrated, bordering on angry. It seems as if we don’t give a shit about each other. In my head, I am like “Fuck this, I don’t even know if I like this person!!”
I am simply dumfounded they can see me the way they do. I have a rule: never associate with anyone who insists on seeing you in a way you are not, or no longer wish to be.
Then, a few things happen that open my eyes to the fact that I am full of shit. I say something and the conversation spirals more out of control. I try to reel the conversation back in, confused by what happened. They repeat back to me what I said and I think, “that is not what I said? Or if I did say that, I meant it more like this…”
Either their filters or my poor communication caused me to speak, or them to hear, something I did not mean. NOT a good thing if the goal is to be understood and understand.
The second thing that happens is I say, “Look let me repeat back to you what I am hearing you say.” I repeat what I think I heard and they scream at me, “You just added that last piece. I did not even say that! You do this same shit all the time!”
Your filters and my filters
Then it hits me. Am I doing this shit all the time? Is my friend seeing a pattern I can’t see? If they are, then shouldn’t I be grateful they are helping me see my own dysfunction? Thankful too that they do not just hang up or slap me in the face and walk away, but instead stay in the battle with me, telling me what I need to know?
I am not taking responsibility for my own miscommunication and am literally making stuff up. Without even missing a beat I blame the other person for the issue! This is a pattern I have glimpsed before, but am now becoming aware of it again because of my friend.
Let me give you an example. My friend says, “I am just beyond overwhelmed and can’t do this anymore.” When this hits my biased-brain filters, what I hear is “Jade you suck, you are nothing but a drain on me, have done nothing to help me and honestly I can’t stand you.”
Look at all the assumptions, projections and psychological leaps I made, in a split instance, from what my friend said? I could have just as easily heard this, “Jade, life is so stressful right now. I can’t manage anything and while I love and appreciate you, these conversations are so draining to me. I am sad, tired and confused.”
Do you see how my own psychological filters can create two completely opposite outcomes for the same thought? Can you also see how, if I choose to hear the first thing, I might think, “Fuck this person, I never want to talk to him/her again?” Opposingly, if I choose to hear the second option, I would want to come to my friend’s aid and do something to help?
This is the game we play constantly as humans, and only our best friends get a front row seat to the crazy world of our own dysfunction. Thank goodness it is them and not the rest of the world, right?
The Fairytale of fairytales
There has always been a natural tension between us, as individuals, and those with whom we are in relationships. We want to remain autonomous, but as humans we are social creatures above all else. We thrive when we have the perfect mix of independence and dependence.
When we are in relationships, we have some ideas that are destructive to this healthy balance. These beliefs are largely cultural and rooted in what I call, “the bullshit fairytale crap.” (I know, a very technical name J )
Here are some of the things “the bullshit fairytale crap” tells us:
That last one makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Here is a little secret for you. If you need someone to “complete you,” anyone with half a brain is going to run in the other direction and anyone who sticks around is not looking to complete you, but rather control you.
Learn, Teach, Love & Grow
Life is about growth. It is my firm conviction you are only here to do three things: to learn, to teach and to love. Engaging in these three things fully challenges the very fabric of our being.
I would argue that to be successful at life and any relationship, romantic or otherwise, these things go in order. Learning, most critically about ourselves, is a prerequisite for deep meaningful friendships and relationships.
Carl Jung said, “The quality of any relationship can never exceed the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves.” You know that old cliché, “It’s not you, it’s me?” There is a huge amount of truth to that. Unless of course, you’re just a dick. However, I am assuming if you are reading this article you have enough personal awareness that you are not.
Here is my point, you don’t get deep meaningful connections by having someone complete you, you get them by completing yourself. The question is what is the best way to do that?
The Worst Best Friend
You think the best relationship is one where everything is smooth and works out great, with never any fights? I am going to suggest that that is 100% an unequivocally false, wrong and destructive belief.
If my presumption about life is true, that we are here to learn, teach and love, and if learning is the most critical component of that formula, then what you want is someone who challenges you.
Someone who forces you to look at your dysfunctional shit. A person who snaps you out of your distracted and delusional self. A friend who sees the best in you but is not afraid to tell you that you have shit on your face.
I have started calling these people the “Worst Best Friend.” I hate them, but I love them. They make me a better person. They help me complete myself by helping me:
Without these people in our lives we are relegated to circular, repetitive thinking. We have no way of seeing our erroneous patterns. We become susceptible to the worst combination of all human traits, ignorance and arrogance.
It is like having bad breath. If your breath smells like fecal matter, you won’t know. You can’t smell it because you are too close to yourself. But your friends will know and only your Worst Best Friend is going to tell you and then give you a piece of gum and make you a dental appointment (or plumbing appointment).
They are as screwed up as you
And don’t get me wrong. These people are just as screwed up as you are, but they are also willing to yell and scream at you and go into emotional battle with you. They are not there just to love on you. They can do that too and will, but they are going to challenge, confront and force you to look at your own shit and also be willing to let you do the same for them.
They are the people who get the privilege of seeing the dysfunctional parts of you no one else sees, and they trust you with their “psychological cray” too.
The “Worst Best Friend” is ultimately your best friend because they are the ones that teach you the most. If there is such thing as a “soul mate,” which I happen to think is complete garbage, then it will almost always be a “Worst Best Friend.”
Just so you don’t think I am a complete jerk, what I believe is that we can have multiple soul mates and they certainly don’t have to be romantic. To me a “soul mate” means someone who betters my soul and furthers me in my task of completing myself. They are your life’s greatest teachers and I have had many from romantic, to older mentors, to peers and coworkers.
How do you know
But how do you know? How do you know if this person is a Worst Best Friend or a Best Worst Friend? It is actually pretty easy. You only need to ask yourself three critical questions:
That is it. It is not always an easy determination, but it is always a worthwhile endeavor if it leads to personal growth. Finding a “Worst Best Friend” may be the best possible thing you can do for the quality of your relationships now, and in the future. They make you the person you could likely not become on your own. Here is to you finding your “Worst Best Friend.”