Suicide by Friendship
One of the most profound sayings that I recall learning in my life came from one of my Marine Corps Drill Instructors. Now you wouldn’t think your average jar head would be an oracle of wisdom but you’d be surprised what a man learns when it is his job to face death and having to take a life you know absolutely nothing about other than the color of their uniform.
He and I became friends after graduation as I remained T.A.D. MCRD Parris Island, Beaufort South Carolina. He invited me to sit with him at chow after congratulating me on my recent promotion. He had that steely glint of a young Clint Eastwood and an equally raspy voice.
After the many things he imparted to me about fleet duty, the conversation then turned to war. Out of nowhere he stared and calmly said, “one thing I want you to remember because I know you to be a good judge of people… when a man is convinced he is going to die, he will usually find a way to make it happen.”
It was his way of beginning a conversation with me about being a leader to those who may someday find themselves walking in fear. He explained how there is a healthy part to fear that keeps us on our toes and fuels our instinct to survive and that a person with no fear is dangerous and reckless. He said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the facing of it. And that cowardice is the embracing of fear and the inevitability of all that comes with it. It is a lesson I have never forgotten.
There is precious little left in this world that I fear. Not that I am fearless, but that I have faced so much fear that the combat of it does not bother me anymore. I know to stay prepared. When I choose not to fight, it is not out of fear, but because the battle before me is not always worthy of the fight and it poses no threat to my life.
More often battles are brought to us out of other people’s fears. Like recently I did a favor for someone I know. They were to pick an item up from me that they needed. In the time that it took them to contact me, I knew I would be unavailable and unable to reply once they arrived because I had an obligation to be a guest on the air for political commentary. So I quickly sent the person a text letting them know that the item would be in the mailbox because I was going to be on a live mic and I would be in touch when I could.
The response I got was venomous and accusing as if I owed that person my time in addition to the favor I did and they went on to tell me all the things I must really think about them if I could not find the time to even come to the door and to forget the favor- they didn’t need it.
I was like, really? We can’t always know what stuff is going on in someone’s head or why, but when we are on the side of right, we are also not responsible to entertain their wrong headedness.
Now the Neo from 2008-2009 would have destroyed that person. But I simply responded that all my friends are aware that when my schedule changes and I am on a media call, I turn off my ringer and I ask them not to knock and I usually put things in the mailbox. I reminded that person of a previous incident where I had made it clear and that whatever personal insecurities caused that outburst was theirs to deal with but consider the favor UNDONE as requested along with their being no further need for contact as they requested.
One thing everyone knows with me, is if you hang yourself with your own rope around me, I am not cutting you down. You’ll live, and hopefully learn not to get stuck on stupid with the next person trying to help you. No I am not perfect. No I don’t think I’m God. And no I am not Jesus Christ. And that is exactly why I can kick your ass to the curb instead of dying for your sins. LOL.
As a counselor, I am not trying to be friends with my patients. So if you are not strong enough to keep your issues in check, there is only so much you can expect before you start running away the good and positive people in your life. We are here to uplift each other, not to victimize one another with our own stuff.
I recall another lesson I learned from a lifeguard when I was a young man. He asked “do you know why lifeguards carry a floatation ring with a rope? Because a drowning person can panic so bad that they will drown the person trying to save them. So as long as they are alive or conscious, we throw the ring. If push comes to shove and we have to do a physical rescue, we have to be prepared to render them unconscious if their actions threaten our lives. Then we can swim in with them.”
Sometimes as friends we run into the same situations with people we love who are in deep over their heads. Sometimes we can call for help. Sometimes we are the help until we can get them to another place. Now I have never stood by and allowed anybody to drown, but I have put my share of knots upside a person’s head if it meant us making it to shore together. LOL
Still, everybody has fears that they face and they don’t always intend it to cross over and do the harm that is does. But it is kind of like the example I gave one friend. If someone has a compulsion and stabs you. Even if you know it was not intentional, you were still wounded and bleeding. It is not unforgiveness to stand out of the way of being stabbed or if the person hugs you next time with an armored vest on.
Sometimes people don’t see the grace in the fact that the person is still talking to them. In fact, they see it as torture. There is nothing more offensive than the party who did the offending trying to tell you how fast you should forgive them and act like nothing happened. But that is a part of their self-fulfilling prophecy of pushing the offense into the death of the relationship because they cannot live with impact of their deed.
You heard of suicide by cop? Well this is called suicide by friendship. They push and they push until you have no choice but to pull the trigger. And in the end they seek some sick solace in blaming it on you. Been there, done that, got the coroner on speed dial. Send cash in lieu of flowers for the departed cuz Obamacare ain’t paying my claims. LoL
Seriously tho. I always want the best for anyone that I take the time to care about. But you can only go so far caring for someone more than they take the time to care for themselves. You can’t allow people to live off of and abuse your care while they are skating through life as though their problems are so much bigger than everybody elses that they have an excuse for not trying harder.
Once you look past their tears, it is almost always a lack of proper priorities. And I say without apology, I am not paying for that.