Thursday, February 23, 2012

3 Types: Which One Are You?

‘What about your friends, Will they stand their ground
Will they let you down again,
What about your friends are they gonna be low down
Will they ever be around or will they turn their backs on you’
(‘What About Your Friends’ - TLC 1992)
 
A person with whom I haven’t been in contact for some months has been on my mind, more than usual, lately (going forth, I will refer to this person as ‘Jae’).  The last time I communicated with her was not pleasant and, at the time, I couldn’t care less if I never heard from her again. When the breakup of our ‘friendship’ (I use quotes because it was really a friendship in the building stages) occurred, my mind said, ‘good riddance’ but my heart wasn’t so quick to let go. This was probably due to my compassionate nature, coupled with the fact that ‘the incident’ that led to the breakup wasn’t really her fault. She didn’t cause nor instigate it but she was a co-conspirator, of sorts, in that she fed into the drama and allowed herself to be dragged into the fray. To make a long story short, it involved her significant other (s.o.) who caused serious injury to a loved one of mine and was extremely disrespectful towards me and a few others (including my sisters, one of whom was supposedly Jae’s best childhood friend). Although she did not initiate the 'bush' that went down, she did nothing to stop it, and at one point, joined her s.o in the disrespect. ‘The incident’ took place at Jae’s birthday party; a party that my sisters and I planned, orchestrated and hosted (albeit, financed by her s.o.). Not only did the actions of her s.o end the party but also what was once thought of as a potentially life-long friendship. Devastating as it was, in hindsight, ‘the incident’ was merely the straw…..the back had been cracked for some time. Although there were times when she was sweet, thoughtful, loving and lovable, there had been ‘minor offenses’ throughout the ‘friendship’ that showed Jae to be unpredictable, inconsiderate, disrespectful and downright rude. Despite her claim to want to have great friendships and live a more positive, meaningful life, there seemed to be a part of her that enjoyed (or was more comfortable with) chaotic situations. It was as if a dark cloud was looming over her, daring her to run away from it to clearer, sunnier skies…..daring her to try to escape its negative energy. I always remind myself to be mindful of an individual’s personal history that, undoubtedly, has great influence on the choices they tend to make. One tends to lean towards people and situations that they are most familiar with. So, knowing Jae’s history, a part of me wanted to give her a chance to be better because I always believed she wanted to be, could be and, in time, would be. I believed in her so much that (against my better judgment) I made her a partner in my very first business venture. My instincts told me not to move so fast but my heart told me to give her a chance to make a new impression.
 
By nature (nurture?), I am a forgiving person. Everybody’s got a story and, I believe, at one time or another, we all need to be cut some slack and extended some courtesy of understanding.  I have known Jae for over 20 years and, in spite of her flaws, she has some great qualities. Jae is beautiful, talented, fun and funny. She’s creative, assertive and skilled which, under better circumstances, would have made our partnership a force to be reckoned with in the business world. She’s a great mother and hard-working woman who wants the best for her family and works hard to attain it. I’ve always admired these things about her and those parts of her, I do miss. Unfortunately, the wonderful things about her are overshadowed by the not-so-wonderful things about her. Like, her penchant for drama; it seemed as if she was never satisfied unless someone was hurting, fighting , arguing or their lives was in some form of disarray.  Or like the 'dark aura' that seemed to surround her; whenever she walked into a room, the air literally changed.......thickened.....became static. There seemed to be a common sentiment between people who had just met her or were in her presence for the first time: 'I don't know what it is, but something about her rubs me the wrong way.'  Nevertheless, since 'the incident,' there have been times that I’ve wanted to reach out to her; times I've wanted to talk or laugh with her about something, times I've wanted to connect with her. I've also wanted to tell her exactly how what happened has affected me; that I'm more hurt than anything else, that I want to know how, why she could allow that to happen. But, whenever I felt that yearning, not only has it occurred to me that she likely doesn’t care how I was affected and probably has justified 'the incident' in her mind, a part of me warned, ‘There’s a reason she’s not in your life anymore; just let it be. She will not change; let her go.’ 
 
Then, I listened to an excerpt from a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes, where he preached about the Three Types of People In Your Life. After hearing what he had to say, I gained a new perspective and greater understanding of the relationship I shared with Jae, and others who have come into (and some, now gone from) my life. According to the great Bishop TD Jakes, there are three types of people in your life:
 
1.  CONFIDANTES – You have very few of them; these are people who welcome you unconditionally. They are into you whether you are up or down, right or wrong. They are in for the long haul and you can share anything with them. These are people with whom you can share your deepest and darkest inner thoughts; people who won’t judge you and will feed you instead of drain you. They will confront you; they’ll get in your business, in your face and tell you when you are wrong BUT will also come back and be by your side no matter what. Confidantes will never leave.
 
2.  CONSTITUENTS - They are not into you but, rather, are into what you are for.  As long as you are for what they are for they will be with you but never think they are for you. If they meet someone else who meets their agenda, they will hook up with that other person and leave you. Please Don’t mistake a constituent for a confidante. By the time you fall in love or are connected with them in a relationship, they will hook up with someone else and break your heart, leaving you wondering, “I thought our relationship was deeper than that.”
 
3.  COMRADES - These people are not for you nor are they for what you are for. They are simply against what you are against. They are strange bedfellows. They are the enemy of your enemy who will team up with you to help you fight a greater enemy. They will only be with you until the victory is accomplished. They are like scaffolding; that which is there just until the building is built. After the building is complete, the scaffolding is removed. Don’t be upset when they leave. They were not supposed to be there anyway. Don’t tell your dream to your constituents because they will try to sabotage your dream or try to fulfill the dream without you. Don’t tell your dream to your comrades. They will not support you because they are not for you in the first place.
 
I now recognize Jae as a Constituent, not the Confidante I mistakenly thought she could be. She is who she is and no amount of sympathy, empathy, conversation, rationalization or justification is going to change that. Some people come in to stay, some have a purpose that they serve then go and some are not a part of your life, at all, they’re just sharing the same space for a while. Thanks Bishop Jakes, I think I’ve got it now! ;-)
 
Although there is much more that can be added to each of these descriptions, I think they serve as a solid guide to deciphering who fits where in your life.  Can you recognize any of your close friends or relatives within these three descriptions? Are you mistakenly treating someone as a confidante when they are really more like a constituent or comrade?  Do you think my assessment of (my relationship with) Jae is on target?  Talk about it……