Obtuse, and grateful for it…

I have a close friend who has several mental health issues. For the sake of confidentiality in this writing, let’s call my friend “Lara.” Lara is fighting quite hard to remain (relatively) sane in what seems to be an increasingly insane world, and my Clan and I are there for her.

Lara enjoys regular visits with a therapist and a psychiatrist, and in the past she had attended weekly group therapy sessions in which all attendees were female of body (but some were other-gender defined). The leader/therapist of that group was male, but he was (and is) a cool dude, who simply acted as a guide and referee if necessary, so no problem there.

Anyway, after attending about a year of these Saturday afternoon group sessions, my friend and another woman drew close. (For the sake of this writing, let’s call this other woman “Dina.”) At first, Lara and Dina disliked one another. Lara would tell me how harsh and “in your face” this Dina could be. Over time, they noticed that they shared opinions about certain issues being discussed during group, and spoke up for one another during particularly harsh sessions. They became friendly… they would go to lunch to chat… and then they became friends. It was like having a girl-crush in junior high. They would spend hours together, and then go home, and finally talk on the phone into the wee hours of the night.

At first, I was glad of it. I was able to meet Dina, and she shared with me the details of her life. She has made great strides. She has a right to be proud of herself and how far she has come in spite of her disabilities. The interaction between Lara and Dina seemed to help abate the loneliness each felt in her own life. They discussed their numerous differences, but also their numerous similarities. Many aspects of their childhoods are horrifically the same, and they can spend hours ruminating about past events.

Well, it’s been about five years now, and Lara and Dina have been through a lot of ups and downs, the details of which I will not mention here (as that would be too identifying). I know that friendships can take unexpected twists and turns throughout life, but I have been witness to this relationship crashing and burning frequently, most recently just last weekend.

Last night, I made some time to visit with Lara, just the two of us. She was pouring out her heart to me (again!) about how she is feeling “taken advantage of, used and abused” by Dina (again!). I was taken aback, as I had thought things were better between them (again!). I mentioned that I’d thought their friendship had smoothed out (again!), and it wasn’t as debilitating as it had been at times before (again!). I reminded Lara (again!), “Where did you meet this woman?… in group therapy. Therapy. Both of you were attending group therapy for a reason, and you both continue to see your therapists at the center alone every week. Neither one of you is without issues, and sometimes you both have subscriptions.”

I asked her why she deliberately goes against her mental health plan, why she keeps such things from me and her therapist, pretending that everything is super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious when as part of an agreement with her therapist, she has promised to share with me when she is feeling “down.” I asked, outright. And her response? Here it comes. Wait for it.


“I don’t want you to judge Dina.”

**insert puzzled face here** “What?”

“And Dina doesn’t want you to judge her, either.”

“What does that mean?”

“Dina is already judged by other people in her life, and she is afraid you will judge her.”

**puzzled face continues here** “I don’t get it.”

“What? What don’t you get?”

judging a person

“I don’t get what that means. What does that word ‘judge’ mean?”

And that, my friends, is when I was shrieked at, and was called obtuse. A few excerpts follow.

judge mother t

“You’re in law, you don’t know what the word ‘judge’ means?”

“Of course I know, but what does ‘judging’ Dina mean? Can I go arrest her? Break down her door and take her to jail? Discontinue her disability payments? Take away her food? Evict her? What? What does ‘judging’ mean?”

“Why are you pretending? You know you can’t do those things! You’re not stupid, you know what ‘judge’ means! You’re deliberately doing this!”


**puzzled face continues here** “I still don’t get it… then why is it important?”

“Because you’d be judging her! She doesn’t want anyone judging her!”

Well, this interaction went on for a good five minutes, around and around, with Lara getting more and more upset and me getting more and more frustrated because I couldn’t understand the point. It was a Mobius strip, the same words being said over and over, the same path taken again and again, with no way off.


I’ve suggested to both of them – and their therapists – that their relationship isn’t healthy, but Lara and Dina remain co-dependent, and their therapists and I worry this toxic arrangement may damage them both, especially when they lie about things being just fine. However, that is not the point of my entry today… which is… I still do not know what this “judging” means, and why it is so gosh-darned important!

Thinking back on it now, it would have been better had my mind been clear enough to ask a different question, like “What would be the penalties Dina would have to endure if I were to ‘judge’ Dina?” Regardless, that ship has sailed, but while writing this entry I took a morning coffee/reading break, and was gifted to come across a beautiful and blessed blog entry (thanks, Jes) to aid me as I try my darndest to figure out — WTF was all that about?

My inspiration? This!


…and after having read it – several times – I see that it offers some clarity and wisdom: to “judge” someone = to hold an opinion about someone… but opinions do not matter… and if opinions don’t matter, than neither does the “judging.” It’s all so much unnecessary worry, stemming from what other people think… what they think doesn’t matter either… and I’d much rather be on this Mobius strip than that other one.

comfy with self


  1. anna said,

    October 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Bingo! it is having an opinion about someone. I get it Lara is protecting Dina. I understand this as I worry about being judged. it shouldn’t matter what others think but it does matter to me. I can be walking in the grocery store and people can be talking and laughing and immediately I think it is about me. That they can see right through me, see my disabilities, how screwed up I really am….


    • Joe said,

      October 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      We know our own issues and feelings, sometimes too well. But when we look at other people, what we see is the image they are projecting to the outside world.

      We have no idea what their issues and insecurities might be. When we compare our insides to their outsides, unless they are obvious candidates for a three day “observation vacation” at the local mental health facility’s flight deck, we are always going to come out second best in that comparison.

      Just remember, they know their insides better than you do and are comparing it to your outside. Unless they have somehow freed themself from worrying about how other people see them, in which case they’re probably spending less time thinking about you than you are.


  2. Sunshine Fae said,

    October 20, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Powerful piece! It seems we get very wrapped up in accusing others of “judging” when really it comes from a different view on the same subject. I know you must be very frustrated as you watch one you care so deeply for continue the path that is not healthy for her. May you always carry this caring for another deep in your heart!
    Blessed be and much love!


  3. anna said,

    October 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

    joe, your right i do compare. they look happy, their pretty, their skinny. and that pisses me off how can they be all these things and i am not. i get mad because i have a mental health issue. they don’t get it they don’t understand. why do i have to be all screwed up and open for the world to see? I am jealous, they have the life i can only dream about but never achieve. I cant even do yard work in fear of people watching me making judgments i don’t like to leave my house, for a lot of reasons. ahhhhhh! i feel like i am a prisoner of my own self.


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