Funhouse mirror

warped mirrors reflecting a warped image

I have a friend whom I guess the kids would characterize as a kind of frenemy: thrown together by circumstance, stuck together of necessity, we are close in some ways but wary in others, always doing this delicate dance of extending ourselves while keeping an eye on the exits, or using our powers of incision while endeavoring not to cut each other  too deeply.

Like most cases where I have a strong and somewhat negative reaction to someone, I suspect it is because we are more alike than either of us cares to admit: there are plenty of flat-out buzzkills I couldn’t care less about because I feel no common ground; their shit isn’t my shit, ergo I have no personal investment, because hey, when you get right down to it, it’s all about us.

I had been having the hardest time putting my finger on it, though. We are unaligned in so many ways it’s ridiculous, from our personal style (girly-chic vs. whatever mine is) to our modes of expression (sailor-colorful vs. whatever hers is).

On the other hand, on paper, we have quite a bit in common: love of the arts, wide range of creative expression, a fairly sharp mind. I’ll even grant her a sense of humor, although of a much, much different variety.

As for our shared “challenges,” after some painful reflection I’ve noted that we’re both neurotic, controlling and highly insecure. I mean, I get all that, it’s outrageously, neon-sign-obvious to me, although I question whether the similarity is even a blip on the edges of her consciousness. So you could say it’s blazingly obvious, too, why she would push my buttons: seeing my most loathed behaviors come to whiny, annoying life in her would of course set me off, right? Who’d want to be like her, I mean, me, right?

Only that wasn’t quite it. Trust me, I’ve noted my own, shameful behaviors in far more dark and/or lost souls than this woman, who really is more annoying than anything else, and really only annoying to me, not anyone else. This is my thing; I’m sticking my Dymo label on it.

Finally, while I was playing around in the Google Wave with Daveâ„¢, he held up the mirror that allowed me to see it clearly for the first time: she is me, inside out. She is fine with our flaws, while I’m still afraid or ashamed to truly hold them in my hands and own them in my heart. Or she seems that way, maybe she has no idea, and maybe that is her own path, coming in her way to that realization.

My path is to carry this with me, this uncomfortable burden of truth, until I can toss it about so lightly, I can toss it, period. And, no guarantee, of course, but maybe once I do, I will have a hand free to extend in true friendship…


Image by Clearly Ambiguous via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Oof, so brave. So true.

    I am having a similar uncomfort with an online person whose renown seems to be growing, and I seem to take every one of her blog posts as a personal affront. Like we were friends once and now are enemies, and so I have to automatically hate everything she does. *Except I don’t even know the woman.*

    I am also having the she-is-me-inside-out revelation over here. Thank you for putting that into words just-rightly.

  2. I love the idea of others as mirror and I like the twist you have put on it by pointing out the funhouse mirror effect. I know I get annoyed with those who all to clearly show me my own flaws. But then that is life think the best thing we can ever do in that situation is figure out what the other can do to change them selves and then see if it will work for us as it is always easier to see the situation to others problems. Great stuff.

  3. I have a person like this in my life as well. It’s haunting how similar this feels to my own story.

    Lyrics from a song by Jewel come to mind: “Do you hate her, cause she’s pieces of you?”

    1. Lyrics from a song by Jewel come to mind: “Do you hate her, cause she’s pieces of you?”

      I think that’s precisely what’s being triggered in most cases. What’s especially interesting to me about the one I outlined is the funhouse-mirror effect with this one. Most of mine have become pretty straightforward (although not at all pretty). This one, it has quite the twist.

  4. Insightful post, Colleen. I wonder, though, whether the insight you give your “frenemy” is real. Maybe, as you suggest, she just seems that way. In other words, is this just another way that smart women have of knocking our own accomplishments and elevating others’? I have no clue, of course, if this is the case here, but since I do a fair amount of this kind of thing fairly often, it’s something that’s top of mind.

    The “funhouse mirror” effect is an interesting one. Thanks for raising it.

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