Thilde in her home office [Provided by Thilde]
In Welcome Miss T, our new advice columnist, Dr. Mathilde Weems guided a lost soul dealing with rejection and unrequited love. In Miss T gives sage advice in her second answer, Miss T helped another reader understand both the pitfalls and possibilities of idealization. Today, Miss T helps a reader come to terms with and celebrate an old friendship.
Please send questions to [email protected]. Teal Thilde writes; “Don’t be shy, send in your quandary and/or suggestions for movie and book reviews related to psychology. Kindly refrain from political stuff.”
Miss T’s column will appear about once a week.
When I was a freshman in college many moons ago (1981), I had a fantastic roommate who I adored. We managed to stay friends for years after we went our separate ways in life. We now live in the same city, less than 5 miles apart. She is married with two children, a prestigious job, and from the outside, a successful marriage. She also lives in a very upscale part of town. I on the other hand, remain single, and have been struggling financially for a few years working for a nonprofit in an increasingly expensive city.
A few years ago, I began to notice a rather patronizing pattern to our friendship. Of course I recognize that people’s children, spouses, and jobs come first, so sometimes we single gals fall to the bottom of others’ priority lists. But it went on this way for years. Where her life took on an air of importance and grown-upness, I remained single, childless, and a renter.
One day I woke up and realized that the only reason we still had a friendship was because I was doing all of the work to keep the friendship going. So I tried an experiment. I stopped. I just stopped. I didn’t call. I wanted to see if she would even miss that I was gone. That was about five years ago. Needless to say, it was rather eye opening.
The hurt and disappointment has festered for years. So much so that I tried to reach out and reconnect in ways such as mailing a card and letter just keeping it light, then dropped off a package of memorabilia, and never received even a thank you note or “how you been?”
Now I’m just a walking big ball of resentment over this. And it’s eating me up inside.
I would like to clear the air and communicate my feelings. I’d like to tell her that I miss our friendship but I worry it may be unrequited. She’s made it plain as day she’s not interested in keeping our friendship alive. I cherished her friendship but it hasn’t been reciprocated. I know these things happen in life, but I’m truly hurt and feel angry that somehow she is living a fuller more legitimate life, and I’m not. How can I let this go once and for all? I’m guessing she hasn’t spent any time at all heartbroken as I am. It just hurts. And I’d like to not feel so much resentment towards her out of jealousy or feeling less than.
Having a hard time letting an old friendship go.
Dear Hard Time,
Often in our lives, we meet people and circumstances bring us together (ie school, work). Many years later, circumstances may change, we may grow apart and life may take us in different directions with various trappings and labels. I would imagine that you are grieving the loss of connection that you both shared at a different time in life. You are in no way “less than”, however, you are in different places and have made different choices. For that reason, you may not be a good “fit” for each other now, as perhaps you value different things and experiences. Just because you don’t make as much money as she does, doesn’t mean anything really. Most likely, she is preoccupied with maintaining all that she has in her life (bills, husband, house, unruly kids, country club drama, etc). The bottom line is this: do not take it personally in any way or waste any time comparing your life to hers.
I would suggest the following ritual: think of what you shared, describe the connection that you had, how it felt, give it colors and sounds. Remember the laughter and the smiles. Take that good feeling and in your imagination, send it to your friend with a psychic “thank you”. Then, release her like a butterfly, letting go of all expectation and negativity. You may find that this simple act of “catch and release” gratitude may attract more friends into your life who’s lifestyle and sensibilities are a better fit with yours. Be kind to yourself!
Miss T’s first question and answer Welcome Miss T, our new advice columnist
Dear Miss T,
My problem is unrequited love. I publish a community magazine. I am losing money in the venture. I have to beg writers for submissions. While we have a loyal readership, friends and families barely read the articles, only under duress. My self-image is suffering. How do I get out before my heart is broken to bits?
We all suffer for our art and our passion. I for one work harder than anyone I know and make zero money. Oftentimes, we wonder why it even matters or does anyone care or see us. Rather than “get out”, it’s time to double down. Perhaps you should appeal more to the narcissism of your contributors. Find out what their passion is and ask them to write about it. Provide a framework, an organizing question and limit the time spent on it. Encourage them to share about topics big and small that offer wonder and the impetus to keep going in their own lives.
Miss T’s second question and answer Miss T gives sage advice in her second answer
Dear Miss T
From afar, I am in love with a journalist in my town. I read all his insightful articles and see him always talking around town whether at an art gallery, a museum, a sporting event, a literary talk, a chic restaurant, a celebrity mixer, a parade or a political rally.
While he’s often surrounded by a bevy of the most beautiful women of our town, I’m not sure he’s in a serious relationship. I think he’s the lonely brooding artist type. I am pretty sure he’s not gay.
My problem is that I am a shy girl. I don’t have the nerve to approach him and wouldn’t know what to say. Do you have any stalking suggestions?
The clues to the answer are in your question. Let me just say, first off, that stalking is illegal and is unlikely to end well. You describe him as a charismatic and moody social butterfly who enjoys the attention of women. Regardless of whether he is “available” or not, it appears that you have already put him on a pedestal from which he can only fall. We all have the tendency to idealize those whom we don’t really know. The problem with that is that fantasy can become obsession. It is possible that he has ignited your imagination which could stimulate your own creative expression. In that sense, it’s a good thing to feel alive. Maybe you are a writer also? Start journaling. Get out and meet other people.
I would suggest that the next time you see him in public, say hello and tell him that you admire his work. Observe his response and take it from there.