The Zombie Friendship Test

This is a rare self-help blog entry.  There are some people in your life that you can’t avoid, no matter how hard you try. The people you work with are going to be there all the time, unless you decide to change jobs.  Same goes for your boss. The members of your immediate family (partner, children) cannot be ignored, or traded, without a major life decision. Short of abandonment or divorce they are there for the long haul, so it behooves you to find a way to deal with them.  Hopefully you love them and don’t mind the work.   

Everyone else can go.

They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. I’ve always taken that to mean that if someone is related to you by blood they inherently have the right to treat you like garbage, judge you, and make your life just a little more hellish. Bullspit! If someone who calls themselves a “family member” isn’t 100% positive, supportive and loving, cast them off like a leper. That whole jazz about owing anybody undeserved allegiance because of something as accidental as blood relation is the biggest crock since trickle-down economics. How many people stay in sick, destructive relationships out of some misplaced sense of familial duty? Let me be the one to take you off the hook. If someone is not a positive influence on your life—father, sister, cousin, great-uncle, whatever—you have the right to drop them like an anvil on Wile E. Coyote’s head. No explanation necessary, no guilt, do not pass Go! It’s America, you’re allowed!

So now that you’ve thinned out the family herd, let’s get to work on the rest of the people in your life. Start with the ones who think they have the right to make you feel bad about yourself. You know, the ones who are always just slightly disappointed in you. You haven’t been the friend they thought you should be, or they expected you to do more than you did. Every time you speak on the phone there’s that wistfulness in their voice. You weren’t as perfect as they thought you would be. There’s always a little bit more you could have given. These people need to be loaded into a rocket (along with all their high hopes for a better you), aimed toward the sun, then have the rocket crash far short of the sun in keeping with their diminished expectations. No one you invite into your life should ever have the right to make you feel guilty. Guilt is a corrosive. Save it for things you are legitimately sorry about. If you’re feeling it and you don’t know what you did to deserve it, you probably have fallen victim to one of these blood-filled leeches. Burn them off with a cigarette and move on. If they ask why you don’t call anymore, tell them they’ve disappointed you in some vague, unnamed way.

OK, are those people gone? Whew! Close the door behind them. Now who’s left? Okay, let’s work on these folks…

It’s time to rid your world of those wonderful people who take advantage of you. The ones who eat your food, use your phone, borrow your money and otherwise avail themselves of your good will. The ones who talk to you only to hear themselves complain about their own lives. You could have a broken leg, a toothache and the gout and these people would still be talking about their hangnail. You could be in foreclosure and they’d ask if they can borrow a fiver. Now I know that each of us has our own tolerance for pain—some people go through life without knowing the worst parts of it, but think they have it worse than anyone. That’s fine, I have no desire to burst anyone’s happiness bubble. What I’m talking about is those people who lack basic empathy, who are so overly concerned with their own daily drama that they have neither the time nor inclination to care about anyone else. Take care of me, listen to my problems, can you believe what my husband/wife/daughter/son/boyfriend/ did to me? Me me me me, meme me memee, meee, my, mine, myself, me, I. Self, mine me nobody else, me meme me not you! Lead them to the door, show them to the other side, close the door. They may not get the hint even then, so play loud music to drown out their self-pitying wails. If you start to feel bad about it, don’t. These people need more help than you can provide. They need to pay someone to work all this out for them, and your free therapy has actually been getting in the way. If they come back ready to give as much as they get, fine. But you might find that if they’re not getting their daily fix of your pity, they have no other reason to call. In that case, good riddance.

Use the Zombie test. The world has been overrun by zombies. You need to find the people who will help you survive. Are you going to pick the one who can’t stop complaining about how bad the food is? Pass. Are you going to go for the one who questions every move you make? No way. The zombies are outside the door! You need someone you can trust, someone who’ll have your back when the brains hit the fan. Someone you won’t mind spending the apocalypse with.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. If someone’s not nice to you, avoid them. If they’re rude, tell them so. If they think their time is more important than yours, show them the nearest tree and tell them to climb it. Life is way, waaayyy too short to suffer these fools gladly. Get them out. If all else fails, hit them with a broom. They’re weighing you down like an anchor on your soul. And when they’re all gone for good, take a look around at the few who are left. The ones who stick with you through bad times, and always think you’re a swell person. These are the people who will save you from Zombies.

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  1. All my blog readers pass the Zombie test, by the way…

    • Kae
    • February 24th, 2011

    You pass the Zombie test, too, Brian!

    Life is tough enough with all these zombies at the door, so choosing wisely among one’s friends and relatives is good advice.

    • Joel Flowers
    • February 24th, 2011

    I’m leaving a comment so that I can pass the Zombie Test!

  2. Joel, when the Zombies come we know we’ll be safe on Grand Street. And not just because of the neighborhood!

  3. Thanks Kae. You may want to rethink that one though. I may be a liability when I get sick. But I won’t complain if I have to be put down!

  4. Thanks Brian for another interesting post. It really hit the spot. I find everyday, in small ways, I need to let go of my hopes that others..x, y, or z…. will behave in a certain way, etc…. and realize if the behavior is never “OK” that it is time to leave them behind and get them out of my mind.
    No expectations, just time to move on…

  5. Kathy,

    Seems so simple, but there’s a lot of taboo about it. Sometimes you need a push to realize you’re worth more.

    Boy, this really is getting self-helpy! Read the one about me screwing up skiing, it’s much more fun!

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