Parasitic Relationships

Today is a very special day for one of my closest friends.  Her marriage of 24 years ended & her divorce became final today.  As an advocate against divorce, what I’m about to say is the exact opposite, but I have to confess….I don’t know who’s happier, me or her.  Well….I know that answer, but you can tell I’m beyond stoked!   I’ve known & worked closely with her since October 2005.  She is naive is some ways, doesn’t attempt any of the things I do when it comes to DIY stuff, isn’t extremely internet savvy, reads daily devotions, but won’t attend church, wouldn’t stand up to talk to a crowd if her life depended on it, will procrastinate until I’m driven crazy & hates to veer out of her normal comfort zones.  She is, however, one of the kindest, sensitive, loyal, most committed mother, cat lover & human I know.

Before they married, husband had a child & baby mama drama.  Although her grandfather tried to warn her, she loved him & accepted his son. During the marriage, he was unfaithful & this produced another child & yes… another baby mama. My friend is precious & attempted to honor her wedding vows regardless of husband’s infidelity.  They had 2 kids of their own & oops…another one happened.  She worked 3 jobs during her pregnancy to provide for her family.  This is acceptable right?  I mean husband worked one job, paid all his money to baby mama’s for child support & expected to be completely taken care of with designer clothing, new vehicles, toys, etc.  Wait…I had a lapse of sanity for a moment, because in no lifetime is this acceptable.

When things became unbearable they separated.  [Enter humor] While living with his mother, husband got a taste of being responsible for himself. They attempted to reunite & make the marriage work so he moved back home. This is a great option if you’re not dating someone else in the process. During this time, he wrecked his truck & of course he got a brand new one.  She paid the note, so why not right?  It’s OK that she drove the hooptie with no A/C in Texas heat.  The kids are young, they’ll survive.  NOT!  Finally the day came.  July 2013 was the most memorable month for me ever.  Wait….this isn’t about me, but I was rejoicing believe me!

Friend began “going out” with a friend she’d known most of her life.  He had 3 baby mama’s, 7 kids & lived in a garage loft type room at his parents.  Before you judge that she obviously has a problem, stop.  In 20 years of mentoring single women/men, I’ve seen this cyclic behavior pattern a million times.  Remember when I described comfort zone above?  It was just a friend with a history of leaving broken hearts all over town & kids he’ll never contribute in raising.  For 6 years I used to read during my 45 minute lunch break.  I didn’t gossip with anyone, didn’t socialize or even sit in the dining room.  This was my time to invest in my mind through books.  Friend had a bestie that shared lunch with her.  Bestie left & now friend & I began to have lunch together.  I could have been extremely selfish, self-absorbed & genuinely not bothered by what was going on in her life.  Except…..she’s my friend.  I’ve heard every event that has taken place for the past 2 years.  I’ve heard every event that has taken place for the past 2 years.  I’ve heard every event….no this isn’t a typo.  I have literally heard events, repetitively, for the past 2 years.  If you know me, you know this rubs against every fiber of my being. Why did I listen?  She has no one to mentor her in relationships.  I am not the most sensitive, patient, polished, or kind person when it comes to advice sometimes, but I am thankful to say we have worked through many situations, other relationships & she is so much stronger because of it.  Yes it was an extreme sacrifice sometimes, but to see her today is like there is nothing better.  The reward is worth the investment.

My judgmental attitude overruled my best nature sometimes & I would call husband a parasite.  Then lifetime friend became a parasite too.  Having a 25 year background in nursing, I am familiar with what a parasite is. Not only what they are, but what havoc they can wreak on the lives of people or hosts.  While praying for her to have courage & emotional stability today to face the judge, I actually began entertaining what a parasite truly does.  I then had to look up the definition & description.  Looking at pictures grossed me out completely.  I can’t imagine enabling that type of behavior!  Here it is:

parasiteParasite : a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

Parasitism is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species,  where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.  Unlike predators,  parasites do not kill their host and will often live in or on their host for an extended period of time. Parasites show a high degree of  specialization, and reproduce  at a faster rate than their hosts. Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival, e.g. food, water, heat, habitat, and transmission.

Parasitism can take the form of isolated  “cheating”  or exploitation among more generalized mutualistic  interactions. For example, broad classes of plants or fungi exchange carbon and nutrients in common mutualistic mycorrhizal relationships; however, some plant species known as myco-heterotrophs  “cheat” by taking carbon from a fungus rather than donating it.

Synonyms –  sycophant, toady, leech, sponge, hanger-on.

I was surprised at how this identifies to husband & lifetime friend.  How quaint that leech was my other descriptive word.  How many people do you know can be labeled as this?  How many people do you know who are drawn to these types of people?  Before we go further, please understand that co-dependent, manipulative, self-absorbed, ruthless, parasitic behavior patterns are not gender specific.

You can’t change what you tolerate & often we tolerate situations, husbands, wives, lovers, & friends just because we lack the courage to do anything else.  The best thing you can do for someone who lacks the confidence to walk away from these parasitic relationships is to be a friend.  Listen, offer advice & most of all validate their good qualities while constantly & continually building belief that they are much more valuable than this. Please, direct them to a community DivorceCare Group immediately.

Today is a new day in the life of my friend.  I know it wasn’t an easy path to follow, yet there is such a release & relief.  If you read this & think I’ve been stalking you because this is your story, please know there is hope & a cure for tolerating someone, a parasite,  who is literally sucking the life right out of you.

Blessings,

g

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