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?”
“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.
“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.