Of all the gin joints…
Lest you think I spend all my time mooning about babies, here’s something different. But let me start with a quick apology to CGD, whose best friend is about to move away. She’d probably love to have the problem I’m about to complain about.
A while back, I mentioned that BFB (goodness, that should really be Best Friend with Toddler now) was interviewing for a permanent position in my department. Well, she got the job. She’s taking another year in California, so won’t start until next year, which I am super glad about. I’ve promised Mr. Bunny that I’ll work my way around to being happy about this development, but at the moment I don’t see how that’s going to happen. I think I’ll need every day of that year to effect the psychological shift.
There are a couple of reasons this news is not filling my heart with joy. The first has to do with the way she got the position, but I won’t say much about that on the off chance that she’s found this space. (Though if you have, BFB, you’re an IDIOT for reading it.) I will say this: it’s made me hate my job and the people I work with a whole lot more. Right now the idea of ever going back to work makes me want to puke. The second has to do with our relationship. She has a certain Single White Female tendency where I’m concerned. This makes me sound so egotistical, but I’m not the only one who thinks this is the case. It ranges from trivial things like I’ll start wearing contact lenses, she’ll start wearing contact lenses. I’ll switch back to glasses, she’ll switch back to glasses to larger things, like I’ll start studying X in grad school, she’ll start studying X in grad school (she has totally redefined herself so that she is now squarely in my field), she’ll find out I’m trying to get pregnant, she’ll start trying to get pregnant (and succeed instantly, the whore). And now…I’ll get a job in the Department of Q at Mediocre Institution, she’ll get a job in the Department of Q at Mediocre Institution.
I feel like she is always watching me, always sizing me up, and always measuring herself against me. If something good happens, I don’t want to tell her for fear she’ll say something to undermine my happiness. Because she often does. And worse yet, if something good happens to her, I struggle to be happy for her and to not say something to undermine her happiness. And I don’t even consider myself a hugely competitive person! With most of my friendships, I can appreciate others’ superior qualities and skills without feeling threatened by them. Not this one. There’s something about this friendship that brings out the worst in me. It’s like my identity is so much at risk that I can only feel like I’m doing okay as long as I can convince myself I’m doing better than her.
Of course, her pregnancy and my infertility didn’t help. She made a great effort to be sensitive, but ultimately, it was still horribly painful for me to be around her. And then we took that break, and after the kind of lame way we got back together, I didn’t feel like telling her about my pregnancy. I sure don’t feel like telling her about my early experiences with parenthood. And the two poles of her world are her kid, whom I continue to find completely boring, and her job, which I sure as hell don’t want to hear about.
For these reasons, I really don’t relish the thought of her being a presence in my life again. I worry that the competition will be carried to new ground: Do our shared students like me or her better? Do our colleagues value her or me more? Is her child smarter and more successful and prettier than mine (impossible, of course, but one worries)? I just want to live my life without that scrutiny and comparison. The whole thing makes me want to pack up and leave town…or just put an end to this worthless friendship. But right before I’m about to be her senior colleague (assuming I get tenure) is not a good time to decide we should break up for good. And it wouldn’t really solve the problem anyway.
I’m actually considering taking this to a therapist, but I’d feel like such a jackass. Dear therapist: I hate my friend. Please help.
Anyway, thanks for reading and (I hope) resisting the impulse to smack me. I just wanted to let you know what fills in the intervals between applying antibacterial ointment to my nipples.