I hung up the telephone and asked myself, “Why did that conversation make me feel this anxiety and doubt?” That was my friend on the phone, a person I have genuine affection for. I should have been happy, felt a sense of satisfaction, or excitedly anticipated our next talk, but instead, I felt demeaned and foolish for sharing my opinion and ideas. “This cannot be possible, my friend is helpful and giving, they told me so. I must be injecting my past insecurities into the situation.” I would convince myself.
The telephone rang again and there was a moment of dread, “Could this be the same friend calling back? Did this person forget to inform me of yet another reason why my thoughts were wrong?” I answered anyway and then found relief in the voice of a true friend who had always wrapped me up in a blanket of warmth and trust. A gentle soul who respected my ideas and encouraged me to continue cultivating my goals into realities. We talked for hours and shared our thoughts, our emotions and our future hopes and dreams. At times our opinions would differ, but somehow they blended respectfully together anyway. We hung up and my aspirations were energized and my heart overflowed with love.
Why was this conversation different from the last? In both conversations we shared creative ideas and had opposing opinions, yet this conversation left me wanting more and the last conversation left me picking up the broken pieces of what was once an exciting idea. Had I lost touch with reality?
The answer finally came to me.
The first friend was imprisoned within their own narcissism. That friend believed all ideas should match their own and if I disagreed with them, their narcissistic reaction would always be to surround those opposing ideas with doubt and negativity, after which I would be presented with the half-hearted verbal permission to “do it your way, but. . .” Then if I dared question that authority their narcissism would transform into anger and I suddenly would become an enemy, a backstabbing user who never cared about their feelings. A thoughtless idiot who just did not ‘get it‘. A loser that was never deserving of their friendship in the first place.
The second friend was a true friend. A person who was secure with themselves, who understood the differences between people and respected the ideas of others. A friend who was willing to encourage my direction even if they could see a better, safer, shorter way of getting there. A friend who could debate with me and hug me at the same time. A friend who would accept my guidance even if they were not lost. An honest friend who never hid behind a wall of justification and secrets. A strong friend who would accept my moods, ideas, emotions and missteps without ever a thought of ending our friendship.
The phone rang a third time and I purposely did not answer, knowing that the narcissistic friend would be furious at me for ignoring them and the true friend would understand.