No friend but me

My roommate of four years and I are really good friends. We treat each other like sisters. My family loves her, and her family loves me. My problem is that sometimes when she goes out with other friends, especially new ones I don’t know, I really feel angry. I give her a nasty attitude. I act and feel like I hate her friends. Of course I feel bad about it. I don’t want to be crazy! What is wrong? I’m a normal straight girl, so why is this happening to me? I’m not that young, either; I’m 37, and she’s 27. What should I do?

Accept this: When your friend goes out, she’s probably not going away … from you … forever. There is an old impulse in you to believe that her exits mean you are being abandoned. Your reaction, a quick shift into anger over this alleged abandonment, conceals your initial emotion, which is fear. You are terrified of being alone, separated from that which you love. At some point in your personal history, you decided that fear was not appropriate, so the anger response took over.

Emotional fear renders us vulnerable. If we are self-reflective, we journey inward with our fears. Through journal writing or talking with a trusted friend or therapist, we learn how to unravel our fears and give ourselves the tender attention we wished we had received from others when our wounds were first created. If we fail to make time in our lives for these investigations, our reactions to difficult situations become automatic. We become slaves to our emotions, rather than simply experiencing them.

Your healing requires that you take care not to abandon yourself. One common form of self-abandonment is putting others’ needs above our own, not in the spirit of generosity and genuine love, but from the place of the martyr who acts in hopes of being appreciated. It’s important that you begin to acknowledge yourself as an individual. Make plans for outings alone and with friends other than your roommate. Keep your life full and include activities in which you serve the least fortunate in our world. Compassion is a glorious antidote to fear.

After two years of college friendship, I got involved in a serious relationship with a classmate. Our relationship as a couple started in a very strange way. She was the one asking for sex, but later, just before going abroad together for graduate school, she didn’t want sex. Once we left the United States, she became upset when I asked for sex. We still live together. I cannot find a way to feel good about it. It is weird and uncomfortable to see her everyday, and she is behaving the way she used to, but I just can’t. I don’t want to lose her entirely, but I just can’t be the same. Some days together are great, but others are hell.

The problem here is not sex, or the lack of it. The problem is your unwillingness to create the life that you were meant to live. The relationship is not working, right? Have the integrity to admit that to yourself and to this woman. Pay the bills that are your responsibility, complete the chores you promised to do, and then pack up your belongings and leave. Have the courage to close this chapter of your life or continue to stagnate in the emotional squalor of dependency.

Remember, a sign of maturity is the ability to understand that you always have choices. And, yes, one of them is to remain in each other’s lives. But first, take at least three months off (no calls, e-mails, messaging, etc.) or risk repeating the behavior patterns that cause suffering now.

Meditation of the Week

Yeah, I was in the audience at California State University, Sacramento, listening to Cornel West, the charismatic author of <i>Race Matters</i>. West claims that the current era is an ice age because “it is fashionable to be indifferent to the most vulnerable people suffering. There are people who have been suffering 40 to 50 years, and we say, ‘They’ll make it, somehow,’ so we can turn our backs.” Are the poor on your gift list?