Sin and Repentance

In surfing idly about beliefnet, I came across the following post:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/virtualtalmud/2007/09/the-power-of-sin.html

I am not Jewish, but then I think that the topics addressed in this blog are hardly unique to the Jewish or any other faith.

I found it particularly laudable that the author decries the contemporary “no-fault” outlook of our society whereby we undertake convoluted verbal and psychological contortions in order to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings or giving the appearance of persecution.   This has continued to such an extent that it is no longer socially acceptable to expect anyone to take responsibility for his or her own actions.  There is always an excuse…there is always a reason why it’s understandable and even excusable.

The question I would pose is this:  why is excusing bad behavior desirable?  Why do we look for ways to excuse it, even at the expense of our own social health?  What is the benefit to society as a whole, let alone the individual, in finding ways to avoid personal responsibility?

There must have been a reason that we started doing this.  Was it simply to avoid conflict?  To prevent bloodshed, whether literal or figurative?  At what point did we, as a society, decide that it was better to encourage bad behavior than to hurt feelings?

But I digress.  The primary reason this blog struck a chord in me was not my own outrage at the permissibility of poor conduct in others, but rather the encouragement by the author for us to examine our own failings and address the need for change in ourselves.

I will admit, in the past few days, to a certain feeling that it is time for me to stop and examine the areas in which I have fallen short of my own expectations and ideas of proper behavior.  I tend to shy away from mentally enumerating these failures, because I have a bad habit of becoming mired in guilt and shame rather than making any sort of coherent plan to correct them.  Last night, however, upon giving it some real thought, it occurred to me that I need to give myself permission to examine my failures dispassionately.  Guilt and shame do not serve any purpose in this process, and I therefore must allow myself to exclude them.  I must accept and allow forgiveness of my own shortcomings.

I think that there is immense and powerful value in the practice of examining one’s own behavior and determining what, among those behaviors, is a valuable contribution to the world around us, and what is in fact a damaging or detracting behavior.  It is axiomatic that no one’s behavior affects only him or her; everything that I do or say will in some measure affect everyone and everything around me.  That being said, there is a real and pressing need for me to take a mental step back and really look at my behaviors, with an eye not only toward whether they are socially, morally or ethically acceptable, but also toward what their impact may be on those around me.

My particular area of focus in this regard is upon my children – what am I doing that is good for them, and what am I doing that is bad?  How can I lessen my negative impacts upon them, and increase the positive?  I do not mean how can I make them happier, because we all know that discipline and correction, however mild, are absolutely necessary to the learning process, and frankly I don’t know many children who enjoy either!  No, what I mean to do is examine how my behaviors are interpreted by them and what the possible effects, both short-term and long-term, may be.  Of course no one can possibly know all of the ramifications of any interaction, but it is completely possible to see the major ramifications, if one is capable of examining the situation objectively.

Do not take this as a rallying cry to self-castigation!  As I said, guilt and shame have no place in this process.  True repentance involves neither, in truth – there is a wonderful post about this here:  http://mredcatholic.wordpress.com/2007/08/02/guilt-is-still-very-popular/

(I’m not Catholic, either, but again this is very relevant to all faiths, I think.)

That, then, is my task for the upcoming days and weeks.  Though I may not be Jewish, I see no reason why I cannot embrace and join the Jewish custom of approaching this season of the year with a thoughtful examination of my own failings – call them sins if you will – and a true desire to amend and improve – call it repentance.

The labels may change, and indeed will depending upon your religious and societal orientation – but the experience and practice need not.

The Dying of the Light…

http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=200232

The world is a darker place today, for a great light has been extinguished.  James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (better known as Robert Jordan, author of many works including the Wheel of Time series) has passed on, to dwell with his Creator in the Light.

May the Light shine on him and the Creator shelter him, and the last embrace of the Mother welcome him home.

If you didn’t know Mr. Rigney – well, most of us didn’t, personally – and don’t know why this is a tragedy, let me explain.  And if you did, and do, then just bear with me as I maunder on in stunned grief.

Mr. Rigney was among many, many other things the author of a seemingly endless fantasy series collectively known as the Wheel of Time.  I can hear you saying, “Oh, one of those fantasy nuts…” and mentally tuning out.  Give me a chance before you do, please.

I read the books.  I enjoyed the books.  I adored the books and, as a writer myself, despaired of ever achieving the intricacy of plot and elegance of prose which elevate these novels from the ranks of the obscure fantasy novel (of which there are millions, it seems!) to the level of, I will insist, masterpiece material. 

The characters are beautifully drawn, engaging and captivating.  The plot is delightfully devious and intricate.  The settings are wide and varied and uniformly fascinating.  The history and mythology of the world are fabulously imagined and meticulously drawn.  The series as a whole is, in a word, addictive.  I could never say enough about it.

The passing of Mr. Rigney, however, is a tragedy for far more reasons than the loss of a literary giant.  Through interviews, question-and-answer sessions, personal meetings, and an Internet blog, Mr. Rigney has become known to his many fans as far more than a mere name on a frontispiece.  He has interacted with them – us – on a personal level, as a human being, and we have come to know his enormous courage, wit, and generosity of spirit in a way that has left an indelible impression upon our lives.  He is a warrior and a gentleman, a man whose life was noticeably devoted to his God and his wife, Harriet, and made glorious by his overwhelming love for both.

I cannot imagine the void left in the lives of his family and close friends at his passing; it is enough for me to try to comprehend the void in my own.  I did not know him, truly, though I felt that I did in some measure, and yet I find myself overwhelmed with sorrow today.   I know that my grief is as a candle to the sun that is theirs, yet I do grieve with them, and for them, and for us all.

When a truly great and beautiful mind and soul leave this world, it cannot help but be the poorer for the loss.  Today, the world is indeed poorer.

Quick Note on Panic Attacks

Just a note for anyone currently suffering from these: 

I suffered from panic attacks for literally years…I took Paxil for five years during the worst of them. You can say what you like about SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) but it literally saved my life and my sanity. I have also taken Zoloft (didn’t work) and Lexapro (did!) as well as training in biofeedback and counseling.

This can be done. You do not have to be a prisoner of your own brain chemistry! You do not have to be medicated for the rest of your life, though if you need it, PLEASE take it! Don’t look at it as a stigmatic thing; medication is there to help you and you wouldn’t hesitate if you were a diabetic and needed insulin, would you? It’s the same thing – yes, it IS.

I strongly recommend a combination of medication and therapy, as well as learning techniques like meditation and controlled breathing that will help you to head off the attacks when they do happen. I won’t tell you that I don’t occasionally get hit with one – but now I can deal with it in the first minute or so and stop it in its tracks. I never get to the dizzy, breathless, hyperventilating, hallucinating stage that used to be standard. I can nip it in the bud.

I am no longer on medication, nor am I in therapy, but I have regained control of my life. You can, too, and it’s worth whatever it takes because life is too beautiful to waste in mindless terror!

Don’t give up on this.  You can get through it. 

Brain Research

http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=6271

I found this very interesting, particularly the section entitled, “Behavior, Learning and Language”. 

A lot of it seems like common sense, but even though we may recognize it as valid, it is probably something we don’t think about in the course of our daily interactions with our children. 

I can remember T.’s early school years, when we would try to help her with homework and she (and we!) would get so frustrated.  It was a constant fight.  Later on, it got easier, but I can remember those struggles so well.  We are already experiencing the same thing with B., even though she is very academically gifted, and this article triggered a light bulb for me; the homework isn’t the problem.  It is the fact that we are tired, she is tired, nobody wants to be doing it, and we all get frustrated more easily as a result.  The approach matters…we have got to pay more attention to how she feels and to using the appropriate language in that setting. 

The last thing I want is for either of my children to look at learning as a chore or an unpleasant experience, something to be avoided.  I have always adored learning new things and have eagerly approached any learning opportunity with nothing short of excitement.  I want them to feel the same way, because if you know that there’s nothing you can’t learn, then chances are there will be nothing you can’t do. 

I think we all need to take a little time to research learning patterns and approaches that will help us to bridge the gap between our knowledge and our children’s needs.  This is not information for teachers alone – parents need continuing education, too.    If you don’t know where to start, Google it!  (What did we EVER do before Google?)

Many parents think of teaching as, well, the teacher’s job – not theirs.  But the fact is – and it is a fact that is well represented in this article – that you are teaching your child, every second of every day, whether you know it or not.  The question then becomes, are you teaching them something you want them to learn? 

I don’t say this to make anyone self-conscious or to make anyone second-guess his or her every move.  I say it simply to point out that teaching is most definitely not only the teacher’s job.  The teacher imparts specific knowledge, but the subject of life is taught not only in the classroom, but every moment of a child’s life and by everyone whom he or she encounters.  No one is a more powerful force or a more profound influence on that process than the parent, whether he or she knows it or not.

Take a little time to look into how your child learns.  Learn a little bit yourself, about his or her brain functions and the ways in which the brain processes and stores information.  You might find yourself thinking up a few new ways to interact, that might improve not only his or her academic progress, but your own relationship.  

It’s worth the time.  After all, you only get one shot at raising this child, and there are no “do-overs”.  Kids don’t, unfortunately, come with an “undo” key.

Britney’s “Belly”???

Okay, NOW I’m pissed.

http://news.aol.com/entertainment/music/story/ar/_a/britneys-body-gets-brunt-of-insults/20070911064009990001

First, let me state that the outfit Britney was wearing for this performance was a poor choice for anyone, at any time.  It is unattractive and tasteless and would make just about anyone look bad.

Having said that, I am beyond incensed at the plethora of “fat” comments engendered by this!  I heard the comments before I saw the performance, and looked it up fully expecting to see the visual evidence of a year-long binge.  Let’s face it, the girl has been on a bit of a roll lately.  I expected that to be reflected in sagging arms, a bulging belly, jiggling cellulite – in short, all of the things advertised in the Web flames.

Frankly, I see none of this.  I see a body that is a hell of a lot better than 99% of the women on the planet, and one that most teenage girls wouldn’t be ashamed to claim.  I see a shape a little curvier than the one she had pre-babies, but I do not see rolls and bulges and flab.  I see arms that are more rounded and less toned than the average Hollywood star’s, but they are not fat, flabby, or unattractive.  I see legs that are a little thicker than most of the same Hollywood stars’, but again not flabby or revolting.

Britney does not look the way she once did.  She also doesn’t look like a woman who has given birth twice.  Frankly, considering the two kids and the lifestyle she has been pursuing, she looks damn good.

In what universe is this fat?  I truly want to know.  Because I don’t think I want to live in that universe.  That is a universe of carrot sticks, water and lettuce, and very little else.  A universe of girls learning to hate themselves at an earlier age all the time; of young women starving themselves and abusing their bodies in the name of “beauty” because if they don’t, they are reviled; of the average woman looking at herself with nothing short of disgust and revulsion, no matter how healthy she may be, because she can’t possibly live up to the not only ridiculous but downright dangerous standard that is being held up for her review!

I have a 16-year-old daughter.  She is frankly gorgeous, if I do say so myself (and I do).  She is 5’4″, with long light-brown hair and greenish-brown eyes, lovely fair skin with a delicate smattering of freckles across her nose, a sweetly curved mouth that smiles a lot, and a knockout figure.  If she were a little older, she would be called sexy as hell; as it is, my friends see her and say, “She’s got such a cute figure!  She’s on birth control, right?”

She wears a size 6.  She probably weighs more than Britney.  (The boys who text her constantly don’t seem to mind much, though.)

To the idiots criticizing Britney’s appearance, this beautiful girl would be considered a “tubby chick” and ridiculed for her size.  Which, frankly, is utter bullshit.  I despair because she thinks she’s fat; I wonder how to make her see that her size is normal, healthy and gorgeous, (and a size I would have killed for at that age!) and that protruding bones do not equal beauty.  I agonize over what it does to her self-esteem that she is not a twig.  And then I read articles like this one, and I want to throttle somebody.

It is no wonder that young girls everywhere are growing up to be women with enormous self-esteem issues and a complete lack of reason when it comes to their body image.  It’s not just the fact that bone-thin women with a silhouette similar to that of a drought-surviving Ethiopian are paraded before us and called “beautiful”.  It is the fact that women with an ounce of flesh – whether it’s fat or muscle – are called “tubby”, “chunky”, “fleshy”, and outright “fat”.

I am no fan of Britney Spears.  I never have been.  The girl needs turned over someone’s knee and taught some manners, some class, and some self-respect.  But this is ridiculous, and I am deeply angered on behalf of every female on the planet.  It is time that this insanity stopped.

Avoidance

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23411325-details/Fury+over+BBC+plan+to+screen+the+slaughter+of+lambs+and+piglets/article.do#readerComments

This is interesting on several levels.  I find it interesting that nobody seems to approve of this.  Meat producers are concerned that it will be off-putting; animal rights activists think it is too sanitized.

I think both stances are wrong.  Neither side wants the truth; neither side wants an honest, unvarnished, unsensationalized view of the process from animal to entree.  The meat producers want no coverage at all – it is obviously in their best interest if consumers are able to completely avoid thinking of dinner as having ever been a sweet little lamb or soulful little calf.  They would prefer to avoid the issue entirely.

The animal rights activists are the opposite – they want the coverage sensationalized; maximize the blood and gore and the screams of the animals as they die (if they scream; I don’t personally know).  They want fire and brimstone, to turn off as many consumers as possible.

Personally, I think the middle ground is the best route.  I do believe that anyone who consumes should know what he or she is consuming.  Consumers need to be aware of the process through which they are provided with products.  We have become a nation – nay, a world, of mindless, unthinking devourers with endless and indiscriminate appetites, and we have been enabled to indulge those appetites with neither a sense of nor a concern for the consequences.  We are presented with lovely, appetizing food in neatly packaged, sanitized containers, delivered right to our local grocery and purchasable with nary a thought for its origin. (Or for its nutritional value or effect on our health, but that’s a separate post.)  We have been enabled, in this as in many other things, to simply refrain from any thought at all.

This is not to our benefit.  Witness recent food and merchandise recalls – contaminated food, poorly manufactured products containing physically damaging substances.  These things would be far less likely to occur if the general public were informed and discerning when it comes to the items we purchase.  We do not research the origin of our children’s toys, or trouble ourselves to see what the constituent parts of them are or of what they are made.  It was on the market, therefore it must be safe – if it weren’t safe, “they” wouldn’t be able to sell it.  But we don’t even know who “they” are, or who the nebulous entities are that we think are protecting us.

So yes, I think the public needs to witness the process of meat production.  Frankly, I think we should be made to, for a number of reasons.

First, and most importantly, no decision as to a lifestyle should ever be made without as many facts as you can put your mental “hands” on.  If you are going to choose to eat meat – or subvarieties of meat such as veal or lamb – you should have made that decision based on the facts as to what it is and how it is produced, not on simple availability.  You should weight the benefits of consuming that item against the consequences it brings to you and to the animal.  If you then decide to consume it, that is your personal choice and the rest of the world can be damned, because it is not their decision nor their business.  But you should do it knowingly.  You cannot, or certainly should not, have a clean conscience about any action if you do it in wilful ignorance.  The information is available, and you should take advantage of it.

Secondly, as stated above, uninformed choices are often detrimental to the consumer.  If you know the source of your food, you are far more likely to understand the possible problems with it and be more vigilant and cautious, and therefore may be more likely to catch a problem before it adversely affects you.

Information is never a bad thing.  Legitimate, sensibly-presented information is a tool of reason.  Ignorance and sensationalism are the tools of debasement and the decline of civilization.  Or, if you want to look at it that way, evolution in action.

Friendship

Well, yesterday has got me musing about the nature and value of friendship.

I am one of those odd people who is perfectly content being by myself about 99 percent of the time.  I like having friends, and I will do just about anything for a friend, but most of the time I don’t really need or depend on them.  I am fairly self-contained and self-sustaining for the most part.

But that one percent of the time, when I need a friend, I really, really need one.  I have days when I feel so lost and alone…it’s like being cut loose from everything that anchors me to reality, like I’m just drifting in space with no point of reference.  I don’t have the feeling often but when I do, I hate it.

So then I go down the line of my friends, and think “who do I turn to at this point?”  And that is when I really think about the nature of friendship…

There are several different kinds of friends…I’m not claiming to have a definitive list, but here are a few, as I see it (and I should specify that I am defining stereotypes here, not describing my friends!) :

1.  Whiny Friend:  This particular type of friend is somewhat wearing.  She is perpetually experiencing some sort of life crisis – and no matter what it is, it’s a crisis to her!  Husband is being a jerk…kids are being selfish and mean or having problems in school…mom is being overcritical…boss is keeping her from advancing – you name it.  If the damn toilet overflows, it’s an existential life crisis.  Now, I need to be specific about this – I am not talking about the person who only calls when she has a crisis; that comes later.  This is the person who has a crisis EVERY DAY and every single conversation involves something that is just dreadfully wrong with her life.  And it goes without saying that none of it is ever her fault.  She may be a perfectly nice person, but she is needy, whiny, and has a major blind spot about her own faults.

2.  Superior Friend:  This friend seems to exist solely to point out your inadequacies.  She may not mean to be mean; she may not even realize she is being mean – but she can always tell you what you are doing wrong, or how she has done it better, faster, and for less money.  There’s not a lot more to her, really – and you really don’t want to talk to her about your problems, because she will point out to you how she doesn’t have that problem because she is smarter, stronger, sexier or more talented.  In the process she will, very sweetly, make you understand exactly why your problem is completely your fault and you are a total waste of human flesh for having encountered this problem, because no normal person (someone like her, in other words) would ever have this problem.  This friend is no fun to be around, even when she’s trying to be helpful (which she may honestly be!).  Unfortunately, we don’t often recognize a Superior Friend until it is too late.

3.  One-Up Friend:  The name sort of says it all.  She can take two forms but is usually a hybrid of the two – anything you say she can either top, or “bottom”.  If you got a promotion, she got a better one.  If your boss is a jerk, hers is worse.  If your child is making straight As, hers is being inducted into Mensa.  If you have a sprained wrist, she has a necrotic bowel.  Being with this friend feels like running an endless race that you can’t win and don’t enjoy.

4.  Sarcastic Friend:  This one I avoid like the plague.  She will put you down, belittle you, and tell you and everyone else in the world how stupid, clumsy, and absurd you are – all with a laugh and an elbow that says, “Hey, we all know I’m just playing with you” – even though she probably isn’t, and even if she is it doesn’t feel like it.  I don’t consider this a friend at all, but I know people who have friends like this.  Why they stick around, I have no idea, but there you have it.

5.  The Taker:  This friend is, again, not really much of a friend – she only calls or shows up when you can do something for her.  She will not hesitate to ask or even demand, because hey, “Friends do this for each other!”  However, when the tables are turned and you need a favor, she is unavailable.  She may have a legitimate reason or may not, but whatever excuse she makes, it’s not one she would accept from you!   This is the ultimate one-sided relationship.

6.  Brutally Honest Friend:  This one’s a bitch – and I’m not speaking figuratively here.  This is the person who prides herself on “always telling the truth” – but she only tells the truth when it’s something mean.  She will tell you that you need to lose weight…or that you’re being selfish…or that your boyfriend/husband is a jerk…or that your kids are demons and you don’t discipline them enough.  She’ll say it all and be convinced she’s doing you a favor and that it’s a great personality trait in her.  She’ll be proud of it – “Hey, I don’t beat around the bush.  I tell it like it is.  I say what I think.  I don’t believe in false flattery, I’m always going to be honest with you.”  Sounds great, but in practice it is nothing more than license and justification for being mean, selfish, critical and inconsiderate.  And the worst part is, you have NO license to do the same.  If you try to tell her that something she is doing isn’t good for her, you are going to have a fight on your hands.  Honesty, in her mind, is only a good trait in her.  Everyone else is supposed to be sycophantic and tell her what she wants to hear.  That’s just how she rolls.  This is a person who has excruciatingly bad manners and thinks that’s a virtue.  Again, not really much of a friend, and usually she has many traits of the “Taker” and the “Superior Friend”.

Now, enough of the bad and on to the good:

7.  Generous Friend:  This friend has always got something to give.  She never seems to mind giving or being there, even when you know you are asking too much.  She won’t hesitate to buy you lunch, even if it’s her last ten bucks or she’s using a credit card…she will bring doughnuts in and call you first to share…she will pick up an extra Barbie at the store because she knows your daughter likes them and they were on sale.  She may not be made of money, but she never hesitates to share what she has.  Time may be another matter – often Generous Friend may be way over-committed and have no time to give, and her generosity may be her way of making up for that.  But she shows the love in the only way she can.

8.  Funny Friend:  this friend may not be your favorite confidante, because she’s not all that deep, but damn she can make you laugh!  She shows the love by interjecting as much silliness, fun, and entertainment into your life as she possibly can.  Often Funny Friend is not someone who is comfortable with strong emotion or baring her soul, so again she shows the love the way she can, by keeping you joyful.  There is enormous value in this; those who make us laugh are Heaven’s facilitators, I think, because I really think the road to Heaven is paved with laughter and joy.  Funny Friend may truly love you and want to be there for you – she just isn’t very skilled at closeness and may feel really awkward with it.  Laughter is her way of easing that awkwardness.  Take her as she is, value her contribution, and love her.

9.  Deep Friend:  This friend is the opposite of Funny Friend.  She doesn’t laugh a lot or joke around, but she is always there to talk and analyze anything you want to analyze.  If your husband has been ignoring you, she will discuss with you for hours what could be behind that and how it makes you feel, and will usually help you justify whatever you are feeling.  Whatever it is, she can usually find a reason why it makes sense and is only to be expected.  She is something of a yes-man, often, but not in a truly sycophantic way.  She genuinely believes what she is saying or she wouldn’t say it, though she may recognize it later as being somewhat enabling.  This is your go-to girl when you need to cry or reason through something, when you’re feeling really crappy about yourself, or when you’re genuinely bewildered by whatever it is that life is handing you.  She’s deep, and wise, and borderline telepathic, and she’ll always help keep you sane.

10.  Crazy Friend:  This is a wild one.  This is the girl you do crazy things with, like when you TP’d the school principal’s house in high-school or rode down the interstate in the middle of the night in her convertible with the top down and your tops off, just so you could say you did.  She will get you in trouble, you can bet on it, but you will love every minute.  Unfortunately, you will probably mature faster than she, and may find her antics less amusing when you have responsibilities like a job and kids.

11.  Happy Friend:  This friend is a genuinely upbeat, positive person who can usually find the silver lining to any dark cloud.  She doesn’t do much complaining and almost never talks trash about anyone else.  She can be somewhat wearing if you’re feeling like being depressed or complaining, because she really doesn’t do depressed or complaining, but usually she spreads sunshine and joy wherever she goes and she can also be something of a heavenly facilitator.  Not much of a confidante – stick with Deep Friend for that – but let this one rub off on you, because she’s not faking it – she really loves life and wants you to, too.

12.  Best Friend:  This says it all, really.  We call people “best friends” but usually it’s a misnomer…they are often just the best of a bad bunch, or the best we could do on short notice, or just the best available at that time.  Not the Best Possible, which is what this is.  These are one in a hundred billion; you won’t find many, if any at all, and if you do you’d better hang on tight and make very sure you aren’t slipping into any of the above categories, because you want to keep this one around forever.  She will accept you for who you are – good, bad and ugly – and will love you despite that.  She won’t love your ugly parts, but she’ll accept them and understand them.  She will tell you forthrightly when you are being a bitch or a baby, but she won’t be mean about it or do it “for your own good”.  She’ll tell you because she is honest with you, and generally not unless you ask.  She will also beat the living hell out of (or give a very scathing lecture to) anyone else who ever dares call you a bitch or a baby, because that’s what she does. And just as important, she will not only tell you when the dress makes you look fat, she will tell you when it makes you look smokin’ hot, and she’ll tell you how much she hates you for your awesome legs or perky boobs or whatever.  She’ll tell you that you whine too much, and she’ll tell you that you’re beautiful and funny and too loving for your own good.

She will go shopping with you or eat ice cream with you or talk on the phone for an hour and a half – and if two weeks go by without you talking, she won’t think your friendship is over.  When you talk again, it will be as if no time has passed.  She won’t forget your birthday…she won’t get mad if you screw up and forget hers (okay, she will, but she’ll get over it)…she will watch your kids and love them as much as she does her own…she will trust you with her kids and not get upset if you yell at them to stop keying your car…and no matter what, she will be there.  She may not be able to leave her family and travel 1000 miles to be with you in a crisis – but you will never question that she wanted to.  She won’t be perfect, and you will argue, but that will never be a deal-breaker.  Heart to heart, she is your friend and that’s just part of who she is.  Hopefully, you will be the same thing to her.

Now, of course I have oversimplified and generalized here.  Most people share many of the above traits, and the truth is usually a person will be one of the bad choices, but also one of the good ones.  Nobody’s perfect, but nobody’s all bad either.  But if you find yourself slipping into a friendship with someone but don’t feel entirely comfortable with the way it’s developing, stop and look – are you getting stuck with one of the stereotypes?  It might be worth reevaluating before you wind up wasting a great deal of time on someone who might not really be someone you want in your life.

And conversely, look at yourself – what kind of friend are you?  It may turn out that, like me, you need to do some serious brushing up on your own friendship style.  You get out of any relationship only as much as you give, which is exactly the way it should be.

The bottom line is, there’s only so much time and you only have so much “you” to give.  Give it to people who are worth it…people who enrich your life, and whose life you, in turn, enrich.